Brands must do more than just sponsor sports
LONDON - More than half of UK sports fans do not differentiate between an official sponsor of an event or team and a brand that takes out advertising, unless a sponsor is seen to be getting involved at a grass roots level, according to research.
The research into consumer attitudes to sports sponsorship showed that 52% of sports fans saw no difference between companies that sponsor sports events or teams, and those that advertise around the sport.
One striking example the survey highlighted was that the 52% of those questioned believe that NatWest continues to sponsor county cricket's one-day knockout cup, despite the cup being sponsored by Cheltenham & Gloucester and known as the C&G Trophy since 2001. Only 16% questioned thought the building society was the title sponsor.
The study, conducted by Sports Marketing Surveys, also showed that people want to see sponsors get more involved in the sports they sponsor to make them more accessible to the public.
The research, which questioned 1,750 sports fans, showed that 64% of respondents believe sponsors should do more than just pay a fee if they want to get involved in an activity.
Sports fans believe that advertisers could get more involved in a number of ways, including supporting youth development schemes, offering opportunities that money can't buy and helping to reduce the price of tickets and club merchandise.
Of those questioned, 71% said sponsors should help provide fans with behind-the-scenes access to clubs and sports. This was backed up by the finding that Barclaycard, which is contributing £5m into grassroots development achieved awareness as sponsors of the Premier League among 71% of respondents.
Developing strong youth and grassroots training programmes was voted for by 66% of those surveyed, while 44% said they would like to see brands helping reduce the price of club tickets and merchandise.
Mark Cooper, director of sports marketing at Edelman, said: "The real way to get value out of a sponsorship is to earn the respect of the fans involved in the game. You have to be seen to be making a real contribution to their enjoyment of the sport before you can really expect them to start altering their perceptions to whatever product or service that you are hoping to sell to them."
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