The financial services firm and FIFA sponsor topped Millward Brown’s neuro-assessment study, which measured the speed of reaction to questions from more than 5,000 consumers to gauge the instinctive attitudes from consumers toward the event and those brands associated with it.
Instinctive positivity for Visa rose 429 per cent throughout the tournament after a posting a 0.02 score in the UK prior to the opening ceremony. It trailed the 0.128 figure posted by rival and non-World Cup partner Mastercard, which benefited from stronger positivity initially due to its sponsorship of the Champions League, but fell 44 per cent in the period.
Not only did people feel less positive about Mastercard the longer the tournament went on, according to the study, fewer actually believed it was a sponsor. Visa saw a 3 per cent jump in people instinctively remembering it was a World Cup sponsor in in comparison to a 2 per cent drop from those believing Mastercard was the official partner.
Sarah Walker, global director at Millward Brown’s Neuromarketing practice, says: “It comes down to exposure. Visa and Mastercard aren’t brands people see day-to-day because they don’t have consumer products in the same way you might put on your Adidas trainers. There’s not that regular reinforcement of the brand and I think that’s one of the benefits of sponsorship in delivering that repeat exposure to remind people of the brand and build positivity toward it.”
The national airlines for both England and hosts Brazil were the only other brands to experience significant uplifts in instinctive positivity, benefiting from a sense of patriotism from fans despite not being FIFA partners. British Airways jumped by nearly 25 per cent to 0.07 points in the UK after the World Cup while TAM climbed to 0.1 in Brazil.
Elsewhere, Coca-Cola was the most recognised sponsor before and after the World Cup in both the UK and Brazil, according to the study. Some 81 per cent of consumers in the UK and 92 per cent in Brazil remembered the soft drinks maker’s official status as FIFA partner after the event. Consumers associated the brand with the tournament 34 per cent faster than average in the UK and 52 per cent quicker in Brazil.
Nike’s early marketing blitz on the World Cup saw it pull ahead as the stronger world Cup brand to Adidas in the UK but this was reversed the longer the tournament progressed. The number of fans able to instinctively recall Adidas as a sponsor was up 1 per cent over the four-week tournament, while Nike dropped 6 per cent. A mix of constant marketing around the event and the German brand’s strong on-pitch presence helped elevate its sponsorship, claimed researchers.
Walker adds: “This research shows that when brands try to piggy-back major events like the World Cup, they are not guaranteed success. The confusion about brand affiliations that existed among consumers of these two passionate footballing nations was very high before the event. But the post-event wave of research showed that by its conclusion, consumers had intuitively grasped who was a genuine sponsor. It was these sponsors who then gained the most in terms of feelings of positivity.”