Olympics, What Olympics? Sponsors, What Sponsors
With less than three weeks to go before the opening of the 1994 Olympic Winter Games, it seems like the Olympic Torch could best be used to light a fire under American viewers.
According to a pre-Olympic nationwide study of 500 adults by Performance Research, over one-third (34%) are still unaware that ’94 is an Olympic year, and nearly two-thirds (65%) can not identify Norway as the host country. And while Americans seem generally confused about an event that is just around the corner, they are even less certain of what is to happen in 1996: 62% do not know when the next summer Olympics will take place, while the same number (62%) are unaware that the Olympic Games will be played on USA’s home-turf, Atlanta.
It would therefore seem difficult to talk about sponsors of an event that hasn’t yet registered in the minds of American viewers; In fact, 43% could not name any sponsors in unaided questioning. But even before the 1994 Olympic Torch is lit, some companies are strong hopefuls for sponsor gold medals:
Perseverance may be paying off for long-time Olympic contenders. When asked to name (unaided) products and brands that are associated with the Olympics, Coca-Cola grabbed the early lead, posting unaided awareness of 22%. This achievement is soured somewhat, by the fact that among all companies and brands mentioned as having an Olympic involvement, non-sponsor Pepsi placed second with 14% recall. [In aided questioning, 69% confirmed Coca-Cola’s sponsorship, compared to 54% for Pepsi.]
Similar problems may still be plaguing Visa, whose multi-year Olympic campaign has yet to dissuade the public from believing that the Olympics do include American Express. Although 5% mentioned Visa unaided as an Olympic sponsor (compared to 1% for American Express), in aided questioning, 68% confirmed Visa’s sponsorship role while more than half (52%) indicated that AMEX was also involved.
The Olympic challenge is even tougher for rookies. Olympic newcomer Home Depot may have the most work to do. In aided questioning, just 8% confirmed the chain’s involvement with the Olympics, a crushing defeat considering that (after being locked out of sponsoring three national sport governing bodies) Sears managed to be associated with the Olympics by 39% of the sample, while previous 1992 Olympic sponsor JCPenney was confirmed by 33%, and WalMart by 25%.
Never underestimate the power of… controversy. Campbell Soup (which uses the now-household-celebrity Nancy Kerrigan in its advertising), was mentioned among the top-ten of companies associated (unaided) with the Olympics, and was the most recalled Olympic-related commercial (mentioned by 10%). Other commercials frequently recalled were for Visa (9%) and Coca-Cola (8%).
In other categories, confusion is still king. Nike is out-pacing Reebok for Olympic association, while American Airlines has the edge on USOC sponsor United. Neither newcomer Swatch or former sponsor Citizen Watch have registered much association at all.
But the games have yet to be played .Pre-Olympic tests don’t necessarily dictate post-Olympic gains. When Performance Research resumes testing just after the Olympic games, the long-term corporate winners can step up to the platform.
Performance Research conducted 509 pre-event (January 12-13, 1994) and 268 post-event (February 28, 1994) random nationwide telephone interviews. The margin of error is + 1%.
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