Who’s Winning Gold in the ‘Summer Sporting Event’ Sponsorship Awareness Stakes?

Niall Hughes, senior account manager, Clarion Communications

With the world’s biggest sporting event taking place on our doorstep shortly, most PRs will have worked on at least one activity tying their clients to ‘the games’ - but is there room for everyone, and as PRs should we be advising clients to stay away from the branding bloodbath?

To throw a little light onto the question, I did some very unscientific research among friends to see if brands with the strongest connection to the games – in other words, the sponsors - are making an impact. Especially as they are the ones able to mention the games by name, without it raining lawyers.

Some brands have gone to a lot of effort to ensure that consumers are aware of their sponsorship of the games; typically these are big brands such as McDonald’s, which announced it is to build its biggest branch in the world on the site of the games, while Coca-Cola has created bespoke cans to show its sponsorship. And in my very unscientific survey, both of these companies were the most recognised as sponsors.

However no-one knew that Innocent is the maker of the official fruit juice of the games, or could name the official TV or brand that makes it, despite a well supported TV advertising campaign (it’s the Panasonic Viera by the way).

And in this humble PR’s opinion, I’d say that there is only room for the big guys who are able to give heavy support to sponsorships. It’s also important to have a strong differentiated brand to begin with - as we can see with the Panasonic Viera there was no traction with my group of friends because TV brands aren’t massively different.

I was also really interested to see if sponsorships worked, as my friends are quite anti-sponsorship, with several saying they don’t like the way brands are trying to be part of something that’s got nothing to do with them - while only one person said that they would buy a product because it sponsored the games (and then only because they thought sponsorship activity would make them more aware of the brand).

So should our clients have been laying down plans to tie into the games? Well if they are trying to impress the group of 20-something PR/Training/Financial types that are my friends, then to put it simply, No. That said it’ll all be over in a few months, so then we’ll all really see if everyone else bought into the games fever.

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