Independent Studies


Rugby World Cup Findings Are Black And White

An independent study conducted by Performance Research Europe at the 1999 IRB Rugby World Cup found that this year’s sponsors failed to fully convert positive feelings into sponsorship recall.

On-site sponsorship activity at the Rugby World Cup was low, inconsistent, and unimaginative, with an over reliance on stadium signage to generate sponsorship awareness. So did any of the sponsors actually stand out?

Guinness was the only sponsor who managed to take advantage of their official sponsorship position with more than half of the fans reporting them to be involved with the Rugby World Cup. This left other sponsors, including Coca-Cola (26%) and BT (21%) in their wake.

Similarly, when asked to identify tournament sponsors from a list, almost all the fans (94%) were able to report Guinness, which was again head and shoulders above other official sponsors, including Coca-Cola, BT, and South African Airways all identified by less than 7 out of 10 fans.

When so many fans struggled to recall the sponsors of this tournament, it is hardly surprising that the majority (53%) of fans were unable to remember any sponsors involved with previous Rugby World Cup tournaments. Coca-Cola (sponsors of the 1997 tournament) was the most frequently mentioned previous sponsor but was recalled by less than 1 out of 10 of the fans.

With so little advertising present on-site, it is no surprise that nearly three quarters of the fans reported the level of commercialism at this tournament to be acceptable.

So, is there any good news for sponsors? Clearly so. The vast majority of Rugby World Cup attendees agreed that sponsorship benefits rugby (92%) and was appropriate at the World Cup (84%). Moreover, the majority of fans felt more positive towards sponsors (63%), believed they were more innovative than non-sponsoring companies (62%), and appreciated them more because of their involvement (62%).

Currently, sponsors are not fully benefiting from the positive feelings of the rugby fans. According to Mark Knight, Project Manager, Performance Research Europe “Until a sponsor develops a relationship with the fans that effectively communicates the benefits of the sponsorship to both the individual and their sport, the opportunity to develop brand-loyal consumers through sponsorship will be missed”.

Staff from Performance Research Europe randomly intercepted and interviewed in person, a total of four hundred and twenty three (423) attendees at four venues during the 1999 IRB Rugby World Cup. The margin of error for this sample is no more than 4%.

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