Oct 12, 2011 at 01:56 PM
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These Are The Brands Consumers *Think* Are Olympic Sponsors

Brands like Coca-Cola and Visa spend nine figures to sponsor the Olympics, but according to a new study many of their competitors may be getting a free ride when it comes to consumer awareness. Less than a year from the London 2012 Olympics, consumers may be unaware who many of the major sponsors are, sports marketing experts say, leaving them at greater risk of ambush around the Games. A recent study commissioned by UK marketing magazine, Marketing Week, showed that MasterCard (20% think they're an official), Nike (15%), Sony (11%), HSBC (10%), American Express (9%), Pepsi (9%), Dell (7%), DHL (6%), Nestle (6%), KFC (4%), Thomson (4%), EasyJet (4%) and Audi (3%) were among the non-sponsor brands being most frequently cited by consumers as official sponsors.

Marketing Week writes..

In a specially commissioned survey of 1,000 consumers run by Lightspeed Research last month, the big-name brands that people wrongly think are sponsors include MasterCard, Nike, Sony, HSBC, Pepsi and Dell. Lightspeed gave consumers a list of brands and asked them to say whether they are sponsors of the games or not. The results reveal that 20% think MasterCard is sponsoring London 2012, compared with 27% who correctly identify Visa as an official sponsor.

"It doesn’t surprise me that some brands in the survey have received good recall results when they are not Olympic sponsors," Duncan Blake, Director of Brand at BP says. "I don’t think it devalues official sponsors’ positions, it just means we have to work hard to get our message across in a distinctive way.

Then again, some experts like Kim Skildum-Reid say that studies like this are completely useless, anyway.

"Your job as a sponsor – as a marketer – is to change people’s perceptions and change their behaviours," Skildum-Reid writes. "You don’t want to know whether they can remember seeing your branding, you want to know whether their preference has changed, whether they are more loyal, whether they believe your brand aligns with their lives and their needs."

Some might also say that the study is pre-mature with some sponsors just starting to kick their activation plans into high gear, while others argue that it may not even make sense for business-to-business companies like Adecco and Dow to spend resources to raise consumer recall. What's your take? Is this a bad sign or nothing to worry about?

To learn more about the results of the survey, visit Marketing Week.

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