Tag Archives: research

When Sponsorships and Athletes Collide, Who Wins?

While a shoddily worded campaign, an untimely marketing ploy, a legal infraction, or an unethical manipulation can jeopardize the effectiveness of sports sponsorship, a poor activation can both threaten the safety of the athletes and negatively influence the results on the field of play in the process.

It sounds like a rare occurrence, but that is exactly what has happened twice this past week in the 2016 Tour de France.

Tour De France

This begs the question: should properties establish stricter standards as to what is and is not allowed in terms of sponsor activations, not solely based on promotional balance and marketing needs, but weighed against their potential to negatively impact the event itself?

Lex Sportiva – the term coined in recent years to refer to the jurisprudence of sports and its legal implications – thankfully, accounts for injury to athletes. In the fairness of competition, sponsors are typically held liable when their promotions run awry. When an athlete is injured by a rogue mascot-driven vehicle, or a falling banner, not only does the activation appear to have been negligently created, but organizers of the events themselves damage their credibility in offering a safe venue for the competitors. A mistake in sponsorship activation that creates unnecessary hazards does not belong in sports and that mistake can generate negative implications for years beyond any single event.

This past week, the Australian bottled water brand Vital’s sponsored inflatable banner, (referred to as the flamme rouge) that bridges across the race course, collapsed on the lead competitor when a spectator “accidentally” disengaged the generator causing mayhem. Lead rider Adam Yates was tossed from his bicycle, sustaining a gash to his chin, which required stitches. The organizers awarded Yates the time lost because of the sponsor-driven calamity and the entire incident served as embarrassment to an event still haunted by multiple doping scandals surfacing in recent years.

As if that failed sponsor activation was not enough, this past week saw leader Chris Froome finishing a stage of the Tour de’ France on foot after colliding with a press cameraman’s motorbike that was forced to stop due to uncontrolled crowds.

Horrific and failed sponsorship activations range from the slippery finish-line decal at the 2006 LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon that led to the disastrous fall and hospitalization of the winning runner, (Robert Cheruiyot), to a promotion at a Los Angeles Dodgers game in 1995 that forced them to forfeit to the visiting team when a crowd of over 50 thousand were given promotional baseballs which became dangerous flying objects both on the field and in the stands as fans vented their frustrations over two ejections in the ninth inning of the game.

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2006 LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon

While the sponsoring brand’s logo and artwork go through a vigorous vetting process, had anybody considered testing the traction of the street decals athletes would be running across? Similarly, had anybody considered that baseballs are meant to be thrown? On both counts the answer would seem to be a resounding “No”.

Fans attending the Dodgers game may have enjoyed themselves, but the narrative and merit of an activation hinges on its preparation and execution. Our years of research have shown that fans love clever sponsorships, but are cynical toward companies that impede competition or create a threat to athletes through their promotions. Although there are times when the decision to activate a promotion can be tricky, the line between an activation that goes too far and one that is on-point is sometimes blurred. Consider, for example, the Texas Legends basketball team that suspended a local auto dealer’s Kia Soul over their home court. While the promotion drew attention and the event went smoothly, we question whether suspending a 2,000 lb vehicle over the field of play and the athletes’ heads is a risk worth taking.

NBA Car

As our studies have proven time and time again, the difference between a horrific and a successful sponsorship is typically the result of an activation that is relevant to the attendee / target audience far more than those dependent on creative “risks” or “stunts”.

In our view, both sponsors and properties owe it to themselves to implement stricter standards for anything that comes close to the field of play.  Sponsors and properties should spend more time considering the “what if” scenarios to ensure there is no possible interference with the athletes, and consequently, no negative implications reflected upon the sponsor.

By contributing columnist: Jackson Davis

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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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Torch Relay Sponsorship – What’s your opinion?

As we prepare for the Winter Olympics, with opening ceremonies coming this Friday evening, I wanted to take a chance to discuss an article that attracted my interest a few weeks back.

The article, written on Canada’s CBC News website, talked about sponsorship of the Olympic Torch Relay, and how many spectators coming forward were opposed to the “corporate” feel of the event.

Now while I do understand why some Olympic traditionalists have issues with corporate branding, but like any other sponsored event, shouldn’t we accept the company’s presence as a plus?  I mean, the main sponsors of this relay not only helped to bring the torch to practically every region of Canada, they are also helping to fund the Olympic Games.

I wonder if the people interviewed in the article represent just one opinion of event attendees, or if research would show that this is a general consensus amongst relay viewers?

What is your opinion?

If you would like to check out the article that spurred this post, just click the link below:

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2010/01/20/calgary-torch-relay-sponsorship.html

Addendum:

After posting this blog last night I received a flurry of internal feedback regarding my criticism of public reaction to the corporate presence of the torch relay.  The feelings coming from within our offices are that we know what the sponsor does in supporting the event and how it’s their support making things possible, but ultimately it is their job to express participation in an unobtrusive manner to the attendees and participants.  By doing this, the fans and viewing public can grow to appreciate the corporation’s support, rather than considering them exploiters of the event’s goodwill.

Also, the article that was referenced in the blog post above mentioned Coca-Cola as one of the sponsor’s of the torch relay.  It should be noted that Coca-Cola has been formally involved with the torch relay since 1992 and with the Olympic Games since 1928.  Certainly this length of time and their high level of commitment shows how much passion they have for the Olympics and the people that the torch reaches.

As a Performance Research Senior Report Manager stated earlier, “given all that the sponsors do to help the relay and the Olympics, it’s regretful that they are facing such a challenge in getting this message across to the people without seeming like advertisers”.

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“Sponsor our event, but you might have to wait five years”

Yesterday marked the 25th Anniversary of the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau Big Wave Surfing Event at Waimea Bay on the North Shore of Oahu in Hawaii. The event featured an elite group of surfers invited to compete in 25-40 ft. surf while a crowd of thousands watched from the sand, along with millions watching live on television and the web. Along with the surf and sun, Quiksilver is able to generate a tremendous amount of media coverage and ad space by presenting this specialty event.

Seems like a perfect scenario, right? Well, here’s the kicker. Although the event has been around 25 years, it has only actually run eight times. The contest is put on call every winter and will only run if perfect conditions align. As contest director George Downing famously stated, “the Bay calls the day”, making for years of waiting and close calls. From a sponsorship point of view, I wonder how difficult this makes it for organizers and corporate sponsors, having to be ready with a solid program at all times four months out of the year. Of course this must be tough logistically, but is it not also tough to keep past sponsors and gain new ones without any guarantee that the event will happen?

However the other, potentially beneficial, side of this “problem” is that the long waiting period adds a different value to the event. Although sponsors may not receive billing every year, they are aligning themselves with one of the most mystical and prestigious surf events in the world. Understandably the wait and anticipation creates a serious buzz amongst the demographic set that a sponsor would want to reach. This anticipation and level of viewership might be dulled if the contest were to run every winter season.

Understanding that the event could go years with out running, yet has all the power and stigma of any other professional surfing event, do you think sponsors come flocking or are more apt to hold back?

For more info on this event check out:

http://live.quiksilver.com/2009/edie/live.php?btn_live=_over

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2009 National Arts Marketing Project Conference

This past Saturday Performance Research was happy to attend the National Arts Marketing Project Conference held in Providence, Rhode Island.  Bill Doyle, industry guru and VP of Performance Research was present to take part on the panel titled “A Glimpse Behinde the Curtain: How Corporate Sponsors Think, Decide, and Execute.”  Besides Bill, the panel included Alice Sachs Zimet of Arts + Business Partners, Stephen Prostano of Silver Bridge Advisors and Kerri Cleghorn of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.  Each of the speakers captivated the nearly 200 attendees in the room,  speaking about individual experiences and sharing professional insights on the nature of corporate art sponsorship.

Click the pics below for more info!

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Congrats to Rio – Will sponsors take advantage?

rio2016celebrate

Rio wins the Olympic bid!

Just moments ago, the IOC announced Rio as the as the host city for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

As the first Olympiad ever to take place in South America, Rio 2016 promises to be a tremendous marketing opportunity for all IOC and USOC sponsors. Will you be ready?

Marketing success in 2016 begins now, and research is a vital part of that process. With the Vancouver Games starting in just a few short months, and London 2012 right around the corner, there is no better time to measure your existing programs as well as investigate new ways to leverage your sponsorship affiliation. Don’t miss this unique opportunity in time.

Whether it is quantitative research with casual TV viewers, focus groups with avid fans, or on-site interviews with visitors to the Games, Performance Research has studied every Olympiad since 1992, accumulating more data and insight into Olympic sponsorship than any other research company in existence.

As the world-wide leaders in sponsorship measurement, we are uniquely qualified to help you determine how well you are breaking through the clutter of Olympic marketing, and if your efforts are truly strengthening an emotional bond with target consumers and building the health of your brand.

Olympic partnerships are a long-term investment. I encourage you to contact us so that we can help you measure and maximize the value of that investment to the fullest.

We look forward to seeing you in Vancouver in 2010, London 2012, Sochi 2014, and now Rio in 2016!

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Performance Research Study Rings True at Corporate Sponsored Events

“As Consumers Change the Way They Spend in Tough Economic Times, They Expect Corporate Sponsors to do the Same” was the title of a March 2009 press release issued by Performance Research. The release, which included data from a Performance Research online survey conducted amongst a sample of American consumers, highlighted the American perspective on corporate sponsorship spending in the midst of troubled economic times.

barandarrow copyThe results of the survey offered some critical opinions of corporate spending on sports sponsorships. While 23% of respondents agreed that companies should spend less on sports sponsorships, an even greater number respondents (48%) said that they actually become angry when discovering that a corporation has a hospitality or VIP box at a sporting event.

A recent article published in the New York Times indicates a growing trend in the methods of “Stealth Spending” given current consumer attitudes towards corporate spending on sports sponsorships, supporting the findings of the study conducted by Performance Research. The article references the U.S. Open Golf Tournament, held on Long Island earlier this summer, and discusses how the companies sponsoring corporate hospitality tents kept a low profile throughout the event. While in previous years, many corporations paying for these tents – including Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley – went all out on both spending and logo branding, this year a more tentative approach was taken in their sponsorship activation. While spending may or may not have been cut back, more noticeable was the removal of branding. According to The Times, this was evident in the lack of banners, logos on shirts, branded merchandise and other items that may be considered over the top or lavish. While the brands did spend some cash, they kept themselves away from public criticism as they continued their sponsorship in private, reaching only the clients they chose to entertain.

high quality logoThis image of “Stealth Spending” that The New York Times presents when discussing this year’s U.S. Open runs parallel to the idea of “Modesty Marketing” suggested by Performance Research just a few months ago when presenting our study at the 2009 IEG Annual Sponsorship Conference. The majority of respondents in the Performance Research study agreed that in today’s economy, it is more important than ever for companies to appear humble (64%). The consistency between the aformentioned results and the actions at the event show how the corporations are listening to the public. By paying for the events, but not widely promoting the fact, the corporations are able to maintain a sponsorship marketing program while managing to look more conservative in the public eye.

It is good to see corporations embracing the market shifts described in the Performance Research study. It will be interesting to see how public opinion on corporate sponsorship spending is affected by future shifts in the country’s economy.

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