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Guinness – Converting sponsorship into Brand Love during Covid

Shaun Austin Head of Media 15/12/2020

Whilst crowds are just starting to come back to live events in very limited numbers, for the past 8 months the world of sport has operated without a presence of fans in grounds and the viewing experience has had to evolve.

This data shows that despite the challenges of watching live sport, brand sponsorship of sporting events is still paying off.

Sports fans have had to watch games from the couch rather than in the ground, even viewing in the pub has been off-limits for much of this time. A recent Savanta poll for BBC Sport showed that the absence of live football has had a major impact on how some supporters feel about their club, with 28% of fans polled saying they cared more about their team than before the pandemic.

So, what has this meant for brands who sponsor teams and sports events?

By using BrandVue, Savanta’s daily brand tracking tool, we can look at brand performance over time. With these changes in the way we consume sport, we thought it would be interesting to look at how brands who are associated with sports have performed.

The rugby Six Nations Championship has been just one of many sports tournaments affected by COVID-19. With the tournament postponed mid-way through round four in March, the remaining fixtures were then re-scheduled for late October.

Guinness has been title sponsor of the Six Nations Championship since signing a six-year deal in 2019. They are also the official beer for the tournament. The move has further strengthened their relationship with rugby, as they currently sponsor the Guinness PRO14, alongside ties with leading clubs Munster and Leinster.

Our analysis of Guinness’s sponsorship focused on analysing the BrandVue Top 100 Drinks brands report from 2020. When we looked at Brand Love, a key measure within the drink’s category we see a 2% increase from the summer to the Six Nations championships.

However, when we look at Rugby followers, the brand love for Guinness almost doubles from 17.5% in July, up to 31.7% in October, during the conclusion of the 6 Nations.

But it’s not just Brand Love that is impacted by Guinness’s association with the Six Nations Championship amongst rugby followers.

If we look at Consideration, amongst rugby followers it increases from 37% just prior to the tournament, up to 40% at its peak just after the tournament. Interestingly there is no difference in consideration at a total level during the same period. This indicates that the increase we are seeing for consideration is only amongst rugby followers and therefore we can attribute it to Guinness’s sports sponsorship activity rather than something that is happening at a more general level.

Finally, when we look at seven-day penetration, we see a really positive uplift amongst rugby followers. Whilst there is also an increase amongst our total sample (2.4% to 4.3%), the magnitude of the increase amongst rugby followers is far greater (2.6% to 13.5%).

This data shows that despite the challenges of watching live sport, brand sponsorship of sporting events is still paying off. It’s also showing that, despite limited campaign opportunities, with empty grounds, but also empty pubs, the Guinness sponsorship programme for the Six Nations is working and proving a highly effective way to engage with audiences and build consumer relationships who are watching on TV from afar.

With the hope that tens of thousands of fans will be back in grounds and fans will be able to watch rugby on the big screen in pubs again in the not-too-distant future, Guinness should be able to build on its ties with the Six Nations and the sponsorship should go from strength to strength.

Our BrandVue tool captures data across critical marketing and company performance and reputation topics: market intelligence, audience understanding, brand performance, marketing performance, customer acquisition, customer retention. For more information please click here.

Here at Savanta our media team specialise in all types of brand and campaign evaluation, from continuous trackers to ad-hoc campaign evaluation. To arrange a meeting to discuss campaign effectiveness in more detail, please contact our head of media research, Shaun Austin.

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