SBJ/October 22 - 28, 2001/Marketingsponsorship

Study: Sprite, Gatorade NBA sponsorships tops

Sprite and Gatorade consistently register bigger gains with fans of sports leagues they sponsor than other drinks (including beer), fast-food restaurants and credit-card companies, according to a study released by Harris Interactive.

Data covering March 2000 to July 2001 shows the drinks notch their biggest gains from NBA sponsorships.

"Their leveraging strategies are effective in terms of reaching the fan base," said Nadine Gelberg, executive director of sports and entertainment for Harris Interactive. "They have good partnerships."

The Harris Interactive Customer Impact Index compares the general percentage of the population that uses the products vs. the number of die-hard fans who use them, hoping to show which partnership excels because of brand loyalty.

For example, according to July numbers, 30 percent of the general population drinks Sprite, while 45 percent of die-hard NBA fans do. The soft drink thus earns a 15 rating in the consumer-impact index. Gatorade tallied the biggest rating during the survey period with an 18 in March for its NBA deal.

Though Gatorade's NBA sponsorship is extremely effective, its WNBA sponsorship received the lowest customer-impact rating among any product surveyed. While 77 percent of the general population drinks Gatorade, only 59 percent of WNBA die-hard fans drink it, according to July numbers.

Gelberg cautioned that a negative rating does not mean a sponsorship makes fans less likely to use a product.

"WNBA fans may not be active sports-drink consumers," Gelberg said. "Or Gatorade may have to be much more creative in leveraging the WNBA. It's not the league itself that has value. It's the right partnership."

In July, soft drinks averaged close to a 4 in the consumer impact index, while fast-food restaurants averaged less than a 2 and credit cards got a 0.

Other notable successes include Napa's sponsorship of NASCAR. NASCAR fans are 22 percent more likely than the general population to visit the auto-parts dealer.

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