Monthly Archives: March 2010

Is Toyota on the horizon in Wrigleyville?

Here at Performance Research, the entire team has been around the country and visited just about any sporting venue you could think of. We could talk for hours about the history of each building and the character that is has developed over the years.

Of course while each stadium, ballpark, coliseum, or garden has a story, certain venues seem to carry a heavier weight due to age or historical significance. One venue that fits into this category would be Wrigley Field in Chicago. While other cities have torn down and rebuilt multiple stadiums, this baseball icon has remained relatively unchanged since the first pitch was thrown there in 1914.

Now while die hards will note the ivy walls lining the outfield or the neighborhood feel of the stadium as the marks of this classic ballpark, others (especially in our industry) focus more on the lack of advertisements. While other venues have sold the vast majority of space to sponsors, Wrigley has had a long standing tradition of not allowing ornate advertisements anywhere within the ballpark. Of course, like many time honored traditions in sports, this may soon come to an end.

As of last October new stadium ownership has been pushing for several changes. Perhaps the most controversial is the potential addition of a bright red 16×22 ft. Toyota sign that would extend above the bleachers. Now while we can imagine a strong resistance from a large amount of loyal Cubs fans, this could possibly be a good move for Toyota.

A common answer when we ask people what they see when looking at advertisements in a stadium is “clutter”. This response is obviously a result of the massive sea of banners and neon lights that line almost every visible space at most major sporting events. Now while Toyota and the Cubs are both taking away a certain part of the Wrigley culture, they could also be erecting a new icon for the ballpark. If Toyota has the ability to maintain their spot in the outfield as a large stand alone, this is when the sign can be truly beneficial. Not only would the sign be more noticeable standing by itself, over years it has the chance to become part of the architectural landscape of Wrigley.

If you question the ability of advertisements to affect fans, than look no further than the oldest stadium in Major League Baseball, Fenway Park in Boston. Above the famed Green Monster left field wall you will see the towering CITGO gasoline sign. This sign has been in place since 1965, and as one Boston fan recently stated, “If you don’t know about the CITGO sign, then you don’t know about the Red Sox”.

You can bet that the Japanese auto maker would be hoping for a similar type of brand association at Wrigley. We’ll just have to wait a few years to see if it works out.

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Performance Research @ IEG 2010

Check out the presentation below from Jed Pearsall and Bill Doyle!

Any questions / comments?

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With the Vancouver Games earning high marks by the press for unanticipated and possibly unexplainable success, a study of Olympic viewers by Performance Research and Survey Sampling International settles the score even further.

The “Big Three” continue to dominate awareness of Olympic sponsors:

Consumer awareness of Olympic sponsors continues to be dominated by a small group of Olympic stalwarts, with just over two-thirds confirming the involvement of Coca-Cola (confirmed by 68%), McDonald’s (68%), and Visa (66%).  Most other official Olympic sponsors were distantly behind with less than half the awareness of the Big Three:  AT&T was closest (36% aided recall), followed by newcomer Procter & Gamble (27%), General Electric (25%), Samsung (24%) and Panasonic (21%).  All other sponsors tested achieved less than 20% awareness.  As Official Outfitter for the U.S. Olympic Team, Nike (worn by U.S. athletes on the medal podium) achieved 52% awareness, double that of Polo Ralph Lauren (worn by athletes for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies) with 26%.

Not surprisingly, the same top trio of brands was listed for respondents’ choice of favorite Olympic commercials.  Coca-Cola headed the list, with 19% naming (unaided) Coke’s “Snowball” ad as their favorite.  McDonald’s ads featuring athletes eating chicken McNuggets were named as a favorite by 11%, and a collection of Visa commercials featuring various Olympic athletes were reported as favorite by 7%.

The same trio of companies also led the pack for those, “Doing the most to support the Olympic Games” (Coca-Cola- 19%, Visa- 15%, McDonald’s- 13%) and for those “Best showing the spirit of the Olympics ” (Coca-Cola- 18%, McDonald’s-14%, Visa- 11%).

Ambush marketing is alive and well at the Olympic Games:

Although total awareness of McDonald’s sponsorship (68%) was more than double that of Subway, Subway was still associated with the Olympic Games by over one-fourth of the sample (26%).  Subway’s use of Michael Phelps in advertising related to the Olympic Games earned them some recognition:  Nearly one-half (49%) claimed to have seen the Phelps ad;  Among those seeing the ad, 79% believed that “Subway supports the U.S. Olympic team”, and 64% agreed that “Subway embodies the spirit of the Olympics“.

Although not quite as visible, Verizon, an official sponsor of U.S. Speed Skating (but not an official sponsor of the U.S. Olympic Team or the Vancouver Games) , also earned a level of Olympic association.  42% confirmed that they had seen Verizon’s ads using speed skaters.  An overwhelming majority of those seeing the ad (83%) believed, “Verizon supports the U.S. Olympic team”, and almost two-thirds (64%) indicated that “Verizon embodies the spirit of the Olympics“.   By comparison, just 35% claimed to have seen official U.S. Olympic Team sponsor AT&T’s ad with snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler riding through outer space;  Among those seeing the AT&T ad, a nearly identical 86% believed “AT&T supports the U.S. Olympic team“, and 77% agreed that “AT&T embodies the spirit of the Olympics“.

The Olympic Games are not seen as an overly commercial event, and there is a respectable level of support for Olympic sponsors:

Over two-thirds of Olympic viewers in this study (67%) reported the level of commercialism associated with the Olympic Games to be “Acceptable”; 27% believed it to be “Over-commercialized”.  These results are virtually unchanged from data collected during the Beijing Olympics, where 26% reported the Games to be “Over-commercialized”.

In a favorable nod toward sponsors, 60% indicated that they are “Very” or “Somewhat” interested in knowing who the sponsors of the Olympics are, and almost one-third (30%) reported that compared to the last time they watched the Winter Games, their overall reaction to corporate sponsorship is “More positive” than it was before; 62% claimed that it has remained the same.

Moreover, the majority (55%) agreed “Very much” or “Somewhat ” with the statement, “Corporate sponsorship of the Olympics, in order to keep the events going, is more important now than ever“.   A majority (54%) also agreed “Very much” or “Somewhat” with the statement, “Corporate sponsorship of the U.S. Olympic team, in order to keep U.S. athletes competitive, is more important now than ever”.

Just like sponsors, there are a “Big three” in terms of favorite Winter Olympic  sports and most familiar /  most admired athletes, but the leading preferred sports aren’t delivering the top stars:

Figure skating (51%), snowboarding (34%), and ice-hockey (32%) led the race for Winter Olympic events that U.S. fans are most passionate about, with all others mentioned by fewer than one-quarter of the sample.

But in a twist, the most familiar athletes hailed from less popular sports:  Using a scale of 1-10 where one means “Not familiar at all” and 10 means “Very familiar”, Apolo Ohno (short track speed skating) headed the list (with 64% assigning ratings of 7 -10).  Shaun White (snowboarding half-pipe) followed closely, with  62%.  Skier Lindsey Vonn was the top recognized female athlete (50%), beating Bode Miller on the familiarity scale (44%).  Rounding out the top-five was speed skater Shani Davis, with 41%.  [Figure skating gold medallist Evan Lysacek earned familiarity ratings among just 36% of the sample, and was matched by teammate Johnny Weir, also 36%.]

And who takes the gold for being the most admired athlete from the Winter Games?

Apolo Ohno and Shaun White shared the podium, with each being mentioned by 27% of the sample.  Lindsey Vonn followed with 13%, with all other athletes named being mentioned by roughly 5% or less.

NBC gets a gold medal from viewers of the Olympic Games:

Over one-third (34%) of Olympic viewers surveyed reported that they had a higher interest in the 2010 Vancouver Games than they did for the 2006 Games in Torino (53% reported the same level of interest), and almost two-thirds (63%) gave NBC scores of 7-10 on a 1-10 scale of “Excellence” for overall coverage of the Games.  The top scoring elements were “Level of advanced technology used to visually present the sports” (64% posting ratings of  7-10), followed by “Anchor host Bob Costas” (60%).

The USOC versus Scotty Lago:  The jury of public opinion is split:

Snowboarder Scotty Lago, (whose picture was unceremoniously posted on the Internet allowing a young woman to kiss his bronze medal below his waist) was seen as given a bum deal by leaving the Olympic Games after the incident, with 51% indicating that the U.S. Olympic Committee over-reacted to the incident.  44% believed that the Olympic Committee took the appropriate actions, and 6% reported that the USOC was “Not harsh enough”.

About the Research Methodology:

Performance Research conducted this study online among a national random sample of American consumers provided by Survey Sampling International, aged 18-65, during each night of the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games.  A total of  514 respondents were included in this study.  All respondents were screened to have been watching the Olympic Games, either on television or online; The average number of nights watched at the time of interviews was 5.

The margin of error for this sample is no more than +4%.

About Performance Research:

Performance Research (Newport, Rhode Island) is the world’s leader in consumer research and evaluation for the sponsorship industry. Founded in 1985, the company has taken the leading role in understanding the marketing impact of sponsorship, as well as the phenomenon of emotional triggers and passion points among sports and arts enthusiasts.

This is the tenth continuous tracking study by Performance Research on Olympic sponsorship, with the first series beginning in 1992 (Albertville and Barcelona).

Performance Research’s consulting and evaluation work affects nearly $800 million worth of corporate sponsorship investments each year. Custom studies include on-site event surveys, telephone interviews, online surveys, and in-depth qualitative focus groups that explore the marketing impact of sponsorship / advertising from the consumer perspective.

About Survey Sampling International:

Survey Sampling International is the premier global provider of sampling solutions for survey research. SSI offers access to more than 6 million consumer and business-to-business research respondents in 72 countries via Internet, telephone, and mobile. Additional client services include custom profiling, survey programming and hosting, data processing, sampling consulting, and survey optimization.

SSI serves more than 1,800 clients worldwide, including 48 of the top 50 research organizations. Founded in 1977, SSI has an international staff of 400 people representing 50 countries and 36 languages. The company has 17 offices in 15 countries to locally support your global sampling needs.

For more information:

Contact:  Jed Pearsall

Tel: 401- 848-0111

Fax: 401-848-0110



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Sit! Roll Over! Buy! Part Two

Check out the video below from a past Performance Research IEG Conference presentation : Sit! Roll Over! Buy! Training Fans to Be Brand Loyal to Sponsors.

Part Two – “What’s in it for me?”

Make sure to come back soon for Part Three or visit our YouTube channel at

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F1 Sponsorship

Here at the Performance Research offices, sporting news from around the globe always tends to be a topic of conversation and this morning was no different.  Today we were discussing Formula 1 racing and the continuing plight of Pete Windsor and Ken Anderson to get a U.S. team off the ground.

While there are various stories surfacing about how US F1 has no money and at this point even a spot on the grid in 2011 is questionable, support from United States fans has been unwavering.  Even without a race on American soil since 2007 and no American driver, fans still find a way to follow their sport.

This type of fan retention reminded me of a PR Independent Study from back in 2000.  You can read the findings below or check out more at


Why do American Formula One Fans Value Sponsors?

With the Formula One tour revisiting the US for the first time in ten years, you might have expected visitors to the Indianapolis circuit to be curious motor sports fans, with no particular allegiance to Formula One. If you did you would have been wrong. Despite a ten-year absence, America’s passion toward Formula One remains undiminished. An independent study* conducted by Performance Research uncovers diehard US Formula One fans, who actually appreciate the role of the sponsors.

So, is there really room for another motorsport in the US? It appears so. When US respondents were asked to rate their interest in Formula One on a scale of one to ten, where ten is high, three-fourths (75%) gave Formula One either a ‘9’ or ‘10’ rating. So, how did this compare to other established US motorsports? Well, roughly one-fourth (24%) awarded CART, a ‘9’ or ‘10’ rating, and fewer than one-fifth (15%) awarded NASCAR, currently America’s biggest growing motorsport a ‘9’ or ‘10’ rating.

Moreover, almost all (91%) of the US respondents reported watching Formula One on television during the past month, in contrast fewer than two-thirds (62%) reported watching CART. When respondents were asked to choose the statement which best described themselves, just over one-half (53%) chose the statement “I am a diehard Formula One fan and will attend as many races as I can”. The remaining respondents expressed interest in other US motorsports.

Apparently the return of Formula One to the US is not just good news for the fans. Who else stands to benefit from a US Formula One stop over? The answer is the sponsors.

When visitors to both the 2000 British Grand Prix and 2000 US Grand Prix were questioned about sponsorship, interesting differences were highlighted.

While just over one-third (38%) of fans interviewed at the British Grand Prix reported sponsors of Formula One have “More interest” in their customers, nearly two-thirds (63%) of US fans believed this to be true.

Moreover, one-third (32%) of fans interviewed at the British Grand Prix Grand Prix reported they personally benefit from corporate sponsorship, compared to over one-half (59%) of US fans.

How would these positive feelings affect sponsor loyalty levels? Incredibly, just over one-half of US respondents reported they would “Almost always” or “Frequently” preferentially choose the sponsors product over a non-sponsors product. Among British Grand Prix attendees this figure stands at just over one-fourth (29%).

So why do these differences exist? Culture? Certainly, but why are UK and European sponsors not benefiting from the type of loyalty levels reported in the States? One research finding highlights the main difference. US fans reported, “Sponsorship makes the race possible.” This is no accident; sponsors of US motorsports constantly tell fans why they sponsor, what they are doing as sponsors and how fans can benefit as a consequence, while very few UK sponsors are communicating their commitment in this way and therefore can’t claim to have such strong support among their fan base.

Editorial Information
*Independent studies are intended to provide a “snap shot” of Formula One sponsorship. Typically proprietary research conducted by Performance Research is designed to look beyond “snapshot” data by measuring the incremental impact of a sponsorship programme on the specific objectives of the sponsor.

Staff from Performance Research contacted 221 visitors to the Indianapolis, 2000 US Formula One Grand Prix to complete a short questionnaire. The margin of error for this sample is no more than + 7%.

Colour reports covering the 2000 US Formula One Grand Prix and 2000 British Formula One Grand Prix are now available to purchase.

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Sit! Roll Over! Buy! Part One

Check out the video below from a past Performance Research IEG Conference presentation :

Sit! Roll Over! Buy! Training Fans to Be Brand Loyal to Sponsors.  Part One – “Lost in Sponsorship Space”

In this section of video you can see how if not activated properly, your sponsorship can get lost in the clutter.

Make sure to come back soon for Part Two or visit our YouTube channel at

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Activate No Matter the Weather

As I look out of the window here in Newport on another cold, rainy day in New England,  I start to think about how fortunate we are when we do get great weather.  Soon enough the air will begin to warm up, our days will be longer, and even the water temperature surrounding the island will slowly begin to rise.

Sitting here at my desk while thinking about the weather triggered the sponsorship side of my brain and how sponsors must deal with mother nature at events.  While in our own lives we have seasons to sit around and wait for the weather to get better, a sponsored event or activation can be as a short lived as a few hours.  What is a sponsor to do?

For my answer I looked to Performance Research Senior Project Manager Marc Porter who has traveled the globe with event research teams, braving nearly every weather condition imaginable.

Marc said “Although you must obviously stay positive, anticipating and planning for the worst (weather) is always important”.  He also mentioned how sponsors can react to the weather and respond with something that would make the spectators appreciate them, like free branded ponchos, etc.

Hopefully no one out there is going to have to take Marc’s advice, but remember it’s always in the sponsor’s best interest to plan for the worst and then hope for the best.

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