The most successful sponsorships in European football are not always the most high profile engagements. When British football fans were asked which companies they could recall as sponsors from the sport, Nationwide as title sponsor of the Football League scored higher than their Premier League counterpart, Carling. In fact, perhaps surprisingly, Nationwide were the best recalled football sponsor of all in the United Kingdom.
A recent report based on surveys across a target group of 15 to 69 year olds with an interest in football on television in the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, France and Germany also ranked Vodafone’s jersey sponsorship of Manchester United above Carling in terms of unprompted awareness.
One of the clearest messages delivered by the study from Sport+Markt AG, was that key to a successful sponsorship are both an orderly environment and integrated marketing. With so many brands competing for the audience a number of combined, strong elements are required to overcome the clutter and penetrate the viewer.
Although Carling have tried to support their title sponsorship with television commercials, etc. their involvement has been overshadowed by the strength of the Premiership brand itself. On the other hand the Football League is more open to being branded and having established themselves as a football brand, e.g. through their involvement with the England team, Nationwide have successfully attached their tag to each of the three divisions.
The importance of a clear strategy and uncomplicated environment for a sponsorship was also highlighted in the scores from Italy. In the ranking of the best recalled sponsors of football, more Italian fans recalled Barilla or TIM than the jersey sponsors of even either of AC Milan or Juventus.
The scores for sponsors of Juventus were particularly disappointing, considering that they rated as the most popular club in the country by far. In each of the other markets investigated the jersey sponsor of the most popular club achieved one of the highest scores. With a combination of Tele+, D+ and even Sportal on Juventus jerseys depending on the competition (e.g. league, cup or European matches), the audience has not been able to develop an association between the club and any individual sponsor.
Parmalat was the best recalled sponsor of football in Italy at an unprompted level. The simplicity and longevity of their involvement with AC Parma, combined with a series of endorsement advertising campaigns with football celebrities managed to push Parmalat to the fore of one of the most commercially cluttered markets for football in Europe.
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