At the Olympics, Less May Be More
Critics have always charged that the Olympics are more about marketing and less about sport, but a survey of fans attending the Sydney 2000 Games has found that subdued commercialism does not necessarily mean diminished sponsorship results.
While previous Summer Olympic Games have been critiqued for over-the top marketing and a carnival-like atmosphere, organisers of Sydney 2000 were determined that the Olympic stage should be more than just another advertising medium deluging Olympic fans. Their efforts appear to be successful: A Performance Research study of visitors to the Sydney Olympics revealed that only 20% reported the Games to be “Over-commercialised”- a steep drop from the 1996 Atlanta Games, where 40% of attendees cried “Over-commercialisation”.
But does subdued commercialism mean weaker impact? The results may indicate the opposite. When looking at returning worldwide sponsors McDonald?s, Kodak, Nike, IBM, UPS, and Visa, each one recorded higher spontaneous recall figures in Sydney than they did in Atlanta. The most extreme lifts were noted for McDonald?s (35% spontaneous recall in Sydney/ 9% in Atlanta), IBM (21% Sydney / 9% Atlanta), and Visa (16% in Sydney / 8% in Atlanta). The only exception to this trend was Coca-Cola, however considering their headquarters are in Atlanta, a drop in sponsorship awareness would be expected.
Do low key sponsorships create a sense of indifference? Apparently not. An impressive majority of Sydney 2000 attendees reported that they are “All for companies spending millions of dollars so they can be official sponsors”, and one-third (34%) indicated that “Sponsorship makes a valuable contribution to the Olympics and makes me feel better about sponsors”.
According to Kathy Wilson, Senior Project Manager at Performance Research, “There is an important difference between sponsors who simply create ?noise? with the Olympics and those who create ?meaning?. The Sydney Olympics offered a unique environment for sponsors to add value to the fan experience. This ?added value?, not loud advertising, is what ultimately encourages fans to notice and support sponsors.”
*This independent study is intended to provide a “snapshot” of Olympic sponsorship. Typically, proprietary research conducted by Performance Research is designed to look beyond “snapshot” data by measuring the incremental impact of a sponsorship programme on the specific objectives of the sponsor.
Staff from Performance Research Europe randomly intercepted and interviewed in person, two hundred (200) attendees during the 2000 Summer Olympic Games, in Sydney, Australia. The margin of error is no more than 5%.
Comprehensive colour research reports covering the 2000 Sydney Olympics are available for purchase.
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