Independent Studies


The Wild, Wild East? Sponsorship in Poland

Eastern Europe that is.

With former Communist state Poland’s 2004 entry into the European Union and preparations underway for entry into the European Single Currency, Poland is striding purposefully towards full economic Westernization. But just how will this new generation of Poles react toward the growing capitalistic trend of corporate sponsorship of its sports and events?

While continued state control of television and radio contribute to a tantalizing challenge for marketers keen to explore the opportunities presented by this unique market, the key to success will be in understanding how sponsorship can fit into the marketing mix in a way that will be embraced by consumers.

So, how do Polish consumers feel about sponsorship and its role in their lives?

As the first among a series, this recently published independent study by Performance Research explores attitudes toward corporate sponsorship among Poles and reveals a decidedly Western attitude.

So, are fans in Poland ready to see more sponsorship of their favorite sports*? It appears so. Nearly two thirds of basketball fans and about half of soccer and volleyball fans actually want to see more sponsorship in their sports. They feel sponsorship is most needed by the national soccer, volleyball, and basketball teams and therefore are encouraging increased participation by sponsors. Surprisingly, the older age group (25 yrs+) who lived through Communism, is more supportive of sponsors in this regard than the younger generation. In all other measures there is no significant difference between age groups.

Then, how should sponsors expect to be perceived by the Polish population? For the most part, attitudes toward sponsorship are keeping pace with Westernization in these areas as well. A staggering 77% of Poles agreed with the statement ‘Sponsorship makes an event possible’ and 47% agreed that ‘it makes the cost of tickets affordable’. In a country with unemployment running at nearly twenty percent, another important positive association for sponsors is the impact it has on the perception of increased employment opportunities: 52% of Poles agree that ‘sponsorship creates extra jobs.’

However, while attitudes are important, awareness, and willingness to acknowledge sponsors is critical to any programs’ success.

Do Poles remember to whom they should be attributing these positive qualities? Yes! Aided recall of adidas’s sponsorship of soccer was an amazing 97% among Polish soccer fans and two-thirds spontaneously recalled the company’s extensive sponsorship of both European-level and World Cup competition without any prompting. Among fans of one of Poles’ other favorite sports, volleyball, PLUS GSM’s sponsorship of the men’s and women’s Polish national teams was most strongly recalled with half mentioning it without any prompting.

According to company president, Jed Pearsall, “These figures rank among the best we’ve seen in any professional sport tested and can easily be compared to awareness results found from top ranked NASCAR or Olympic sponsors.”

It is clear from the results of this study that significant sponsorship opportunities exist for companies who understand Polish consumers and see that they are hungry for more sponsorship activity. These consumers have the understanding and enthusiasm to make a well-executed program mutually beneficial.

* Fans are defined as those answering 7 to 10 on a 10-point scale when asked their level of interest in certain sports.

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