Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Do sponsorships deliver enough value?


As we sort through the current economic crisis all media is subject to evaluation and possible elimination. One of the most difficult things to measure properly is the value of a long term sponsorship.

After over a decade of participation, L’Oreal decided this year to end its sponsorship of the Academy Awards, which had previously been one of the pillars of its communications plan. (“L’Oreal, Other Sponsors Leave the 2009 Oscars Stranded”, 2009)

On the flip side, last week VW announced that it had renewed and expanded its sponsorship agreement with Major League Soccer. The 4 year pact includes in-stadium signage during national broadcasts, presence at MLS special events and player appearances, and sponsorship of grass roots initiatives like MLS Futbolito!, a four-on-four traveling tournament for amateur players.

They will continue as presenting sponsor of the D.C. United franchise, with front jersey logo placement, and will increase their soccer media buys with ESPN, Fox Soccer Channel and Univision. Terms of the deal were not announced. (Crupi, 2009)

What do you think? Do you notice the signs in the stadium and the logos on the jerseys when you watch sports on television? What about in person? Who do you think is the primary audience for soccer in the US? Do you think the sponsorship will give VW significant leverage with them? Or do you think they would have been better off spending the money elsewhere?

(2009). L’Oreal, Other Sponsors Leave the 2009 Oscars Stranded. Retrived March 23, 2009 from

Crupi, A. (2009, March 16). VW receives in-stadium placement, including signage during national broadcasts. Retrived March 23, 2009 from

1 comment:

  1. COMMENTS (5)
    Bradley A Giddens:
    The marketing efforts with regard to MLS are certainly bold - rarely do we see sponsor logos on major sports uniforms (NASCAR is not a sport). I wonder if it comes from necessity; soccer is a relatively new player in US mainstream sports and doesn't have the following or support that MLB, NFL, NBA have so they have to figure a way to get around that. With respect to VW, I think they hit the mark(et) with MLS and DC United. The soccer crowd appears to be younger as a whole than viewers of other major sports. With other sponsors like XBox360, Red Bull, and to some extent Best Buy who also have their logos prominately displayed front and center on their respective team's jerseys, we get a better idea that this sport's target fan is probably more likely to be college aged, certainly Gen Y.
    Posted by Bradley A Giddens | March 24, 2009 8:58 AM

    Posted on March 24, 2009 08:58
    Meredith Darts:
    I think VW's sponsorship with soccer in the US is a smart idea. Following up with Bradley's comment, the traditional soccer fan is younger when compared with other mainstream sports - i.e. football and baseball. Additionally, since soccer is primarily an international sport (and especially popular in Europe), it would suggest that it's fans are aware of international trends and brands such as the German based VW, and therefore maybe innovators and early adopters of new products that enter the consumers culture. Furthermore, since soccer is still new in the US, it offers a rare opportunity for corporations to be forerunners and stake their claims. They are front and center of a sport that is becoming increasingly popular in the United States.
    With regards to sponsorship as a whole, I think it carries the same risk as any advertising campaign. What if you sponsor a football team that goes 0-17? Alternatively, you could be tied to the World Series champions. Ideally, it places these companies front and center, but more likely in the subconscious of the consumers' minds. Overall I think it is an effective way to gain eyes that may have been previously missed especially in today's supersaturated media culture.
    Posted by Meredith Darts | March 25, 2009 8:50 AM

    Posted on March 25, 2009 08:50
    Mike Udell:
    I think VW could have set their sights a little higher and tried to hook up with the NFL or MLB. For decades the NFL and General Motors have been partners. Who knows what the future holds for GM. I'm sure the NFL is looking to fill that void. The Mets have their tenuous relationship with Citi and the Yankees had a similar relationship with Bank of America all set before the government put the kibosh on that. There are some opportunites out there for companies.
    As for MLS, I don't know how viable that league is. All the soccer fans I know go to bars to watch Manchester United or Real Madrid. I think a lot of people view MLS like arena football. Due to the economy, the AFL isn't even playing a season in 2009.
    Posted by Mike Udell | March 25, 2009 2:20 PM

    Posted on March 25, 2009 14:20
    Susie Cornicello:
    I think the sponsorship is a great idea. I do notice the sign in stadiums when I am at the games, but I likely don’t notice them as much when watching on television. And the opposite goes for the jerseys. I tend to notice them on television and can rarely see them at live events. Therefore, it makes sense to use both.
    The major reason I love this idea is because of the primary audience for soccer. Soccer is a HUGE family sport, I think more so than any other. Every little kid normally plays soccer at some point in his or her life. VW totes themselves as being a family car! The two absolutely go hand-in-hand. But even more than this, the real “big idea” -- this sponsorship must also target the Hispanic market. The most popular, or favorite, sport for the Hispanic population is the US is undoubtedly soccer. I think this sponsorship will definitely help give VW some leverage with this market.
    Posted by Susie Cornicello | March 27, 2009 9:57 PM

    Posted on March 27, 2009 21:57
    Emy Kanashiro:
    I completely agree with Susie. I think VW has landed themselves a great idea that will profit from revenues. Soccer, although not as mainstream as other sports in the US, is huge with most minorities in this country. In most of Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa, soccer is the mainstream, most popular and most watched sport. By partnering up with MLS and continuing their sponsorship of DC United, VW is targeting these minority groups, as well as the younger general market audience. This population accounts to a rather large demorgraphic. Not only that, but soccer is growing in popularity. I've seen a huge change in the way this sport has developed over the last 10 years in this country, and if its popularity trend continues at this rate, it will become more mainstream. What VW has done is thought ahead of the trend, and isn't that exactly what good advertising does?
    Posted by Emy Kanashiro | March 31, 2009 11:45 AM