SBJ/20081117/Sponsor Loyalty DataPrint All
The percentage of MLB fans who correctly identified Taco Bell as the league’s official fast food restaurant in a recent survey conducted exclusively for SportsBusiness Journal/SportsBusiness Daily nearly doubled compared with results of a similar survey fielded in 2007.
About 14 percent of the fans surveyed correctly identified Taco Bell as the league’s official QSR, but that’s a higher count than was posted for either McDonald’s or Burger King, each of which ranked ahead of Taco Bell in the 2007 polling. Taco Bell scored in the single-digit percentages among both avid and casual fans last year.
The polling asks fans to identify the company that is the league’s official sponsor in each of several categories.
The news was not as good for several other MLB sponsors, which saw rivals make gains among fans in sponsor recognition this year.
Pepsi lost its 2007 standing as the brand most identified by fans as MLB’s soft drink sponsor, falling behind rival Coca-Cola among both avid and casual fans this year. The drop, however, follows PepsiCo’s decision before the season to market primarily its bottled water brand, Aquafina, as the MLB brand of choice rather than its namesake soda.
Longtime partners Gatorade and Anheuser-Busch each maintained solid leads in their respective categories, as did relative newcomer General Motors, but each saw challengers make gains in recognition among fans.
League sponsor MasterCard, which had a comfortable lead on the field last year among fans who identified it as MLB’s official credit card, lost that position this year to Visa, a company with almost no baseball activation. Both avid and casual MLB fans recognized Visa as the league’s credit card sponsor in greater number than fans who correctly said MasterCard had that standing.
Are you more or less likely to trust a particular product/service if that product/service is an official sponsor of MLB?AVIDCASUAL20072008Change20072008Change Much more likely9.30%15.30%64.40%6.10%1.7 Somewhat more likely23.50%23.60%0.127.20%25.40%-1.8 Neither likely nor unlikely60.90%60.20%-0.757.80%66.50%8.7 Somewhat unlikely2.30%0.00%-2.33.90%1.50%-2.4 Very unlikely4.00%0.90%-3.16.80%0.50%-6.3 Are you more or less likely to consider trying a product/service if that product/service is an official sponsor of MLB?20072008Change20072008Change Much more likely10.30%17.10%6.95.80%6.10%0.3 Somewhat more likely28.50%31.90%3.533.00%31.50%-1.5 Neither more nor less likely53.00%48.20%-4.850.00%60.90%10.9 Somewhat less likely4.00%1.90%-2.11.90%1.50%-0.4 Much less likely4.30%0.90%-3.49.20%0.00%-9.2 Are you more or less likely to regularly consume a product/service if that product/service is an official sponsor of MLB?20072008Change20072008Change Much more likely9.30%12.00%2.83.90%3.60%-0.3 Somewhat more likely27.20%29.20%226.70%25.90%-0.8 Neither more nor less likely54.60%56.00%1.454.90%69.00%14.2 Somewhat less likely3.30%1.40%-1.94.90%1.50%-3.3 Much less likely5.60%1.40%-4.29.70%0.00%-9.7 Does purchasing a particular product/service that is an official sponsor of MLB make you feel like you are connected to MLB?20072008Change20072008Change Yes, definitely9.60%16.20%6.62.90%4.10%1.2 Yes, somewhat23.50%26.90%3.427.20%28.40%1.3 I’m not sure8.60%13.40%4.811.70%19.30%7.6 No, not really42.40%29.60%-12.837.40%37.60%0.2 No, not at all15.90%13.90%-220.90%10.70%-10.2 How often do you seek out MLB news, scores, standings, etc.? Several times/day Daily Several times/week Weekly Several times/month
For this project, Turnkey Sports & Entertainment, through its Turnkey Intelligence operation, conducted national consumer research surveys among a sample of more than 420 members of the Greenfield Online Omnibus panel who were at least 18 years old.
The first survey was conducted Aug. 7-Sept. 5, 2007. This year’s survey was conducted Oct. 10-29, a period ending with the last game of the World Series. Respondents were screened and analyzed based on their general avidity levels. Fans categorized as “avid” were those who responded “4” or “5” to the question “How big a fan are you of MLB?”, claimed to “look up scores several times a week or more often,” “watch/listen/attend at least 11 games per season” and “have a favorite team.” Fans categorized as “casual” responded “3” to the same initial question, then claimed to “look up scores several times a month or more often,” “watch/listen/attend at least 5 games per season” and “have a favorite team.”
The percentage responses listed have been rounded. The margin of error for each survey is +/- 4 percent. Ad spending totals are from Nielsen Monitor-Plus.
Which of the following is an official sponsor of MLB?AVIDCASUAL Quick-service restaurant20072008Change20072008Change Taco Bell6.10%13.90%7.88.30%13.90%5.6 McDonald’s9.80%12.30%2.511.70%10.80%-0.9 Burger King9.10%8.40%-0.78.30%9.60%1.3 Subway5.70%9.40%3.74.40%7.70%3.3 Pizza Hut4.70%8.90%4.22.90%7.10%4.2 I’m not sure57.20%20.90%-36.357.30%31.00%-26.3 Taco Bell wrapped up its fifth season as league sponsor with big gains: It’s the only league sponsor to show increased awareness among both avid and casual fans. The QSR received huge media exposure by giving away millions of free tacos as part of its second annual “Steal A Base, Steal A Taco” World Series promotion. Parent company Yum! Brands was MLB’s third-largest TV advertiser during the season with $6.6 million spent, most of it on Taco Bell but some going toward sister brand Pizza Hut.
McDonald’s has deals with 13 clubs, including every 2008 playoff team except the Rays. A Subway spot featuring Phillies slugger Ryan Howard aired nationally throughout the season, and the sandwich maker has deals with a half-dozen teams.
Soft drink20072008Change20072008Change Coca-Cola27.60%30.60%330.60%33.50%2.9 Pepsi32.00%25.90%-6.126.20%25.40%-0.8 Dr Pepper3.10%4.20%1.11.00%2.00%1 Mountain Dew1.30%2.30%11.90%3.60%1.7 I’m not sure33.30%32.90%-0.438.80%32.00%-6.8 PepsiCo’s decision before the start of the season to make its Aquafina brand the center of its MLB marketing efforts, replacing 10-year incumbent Pepsi, appears to have had an immediate negative impact on recognition of the company’s namesake product, especially among avid fans. The parent company did put New York Mets and Yankees players on 12- and 24-packs of Pepsi, Diet Pepsi and Pepsi Max, with an All-Star Game theme running at retailers in the Northeast. Pepsi also signed a deal to become a signature-level sponsor at the Mets’ new Citi Field, opening next year. In addition, the company leveraged its six team sponsorships with Pepsi-themed giveaways or promotions at 59 regular-season games this season.
Coca-Cola sponsored half the league’s clubs, including the world champion Phillies.
Sports/energy drink20072008Change20072008Change Gatorade48.20%44.90%-3.244.70%41.60%-3.1 Powerade10.10%7.90%-2.212.10%12.70%0.6 Monster0.70%3.20%2.60.70%4.60%3.9 Red Bull2.40%3.20%0.93.40%2.00%-1.4 I’m not sure36.40%34.30%-2.135.90%36.00%0.1 Gatorade in March extended its 18-year league sponsorship for an additional five years and continued with coolers, cups, towels and other dugout branding at MLB jewel events, along with title sponsorship of the All-Star Workout Day in July. The drop in awareness for the brand among MLB fans follows drops in similar surveys conducted this year by SBJ measuring fan loyalty in other leagues. The Gatorade Web site does not list MLB as a corporate partner, although the NHL, NBA and NFL marks are present. Derek Jeter, the only MLB player listed as a “Gatorade Pro” on the site, earlier this year filmed a commercial for the new G2 drink. PepsiCo was No. 5 among MLB’s TV ad spenders during the season, committing $6 million to Gatorade and Aquafina spots.
Coca-Cola’s Powerade brand, meanwhile, aired a spot featuring Vladimir Guerrero and Ryan Howard this year. The brand is also the official sports drink of Little League baseball.
Beer20072008Change20072008Change Anheuser-Busch53.20%43.20%-1043.20%43.90%0.7 Miller11.50%15.80%4.413.60%15.50%1.9 Coors10.40%13.70%3.28.70%9.60%0.9 Corona0.00%4.30%4.31.50%3.40%1.9 I’m not sure22.20%17.30%-530.10%22.60%-7.5 Anheuser-Busch has been a league sponsor since 1996 and also sponsors 26 clubs. The company was No. 8 among TV ad spenders, at $4.7 million, approximately twice the spending of rival SABMiller. The brewer this summer also signed to become a signature partner at the Mets’ new Citi Field. Credit card20072008Change20072008Change Visa15.50%22.70%7.214.10%26.90%12.8 MasterCard23.20%22.20%-118.90%22.30%3.4 American Express15.50%18.10%2.617.50%14.20%-3.3 Discover Card4.70%4.60%-0.12.90%3.60%0.7 I’m not sure37.70%31.90%-5.844.20%33.00%-11.2 MasterCard has been MLB’s credit card sponsor since 1997 and also sponsors nearly half the league’s clubs, including six of this year’s playoff teams. In addition, the brand this season teamed up with MLB sponsor Bank of America (rival Visa’s largest issuer of debit cards) to offer MasterCard affinity cards for all 30 teams. MasterCard debuted a new, baseball-themed spot as part of its 11-year-old “Priceless” campaign during the season, but no credit card company appeared among the top 50 TV ad spenders for 2008.
Visa sponsors only the Giants among MLB clubs.General Motors got camera time when World Series MVP Cole Hamels received a Camaro.
Automobile20072008Change20072008Change General Motors25.90%27.80%1.927.20%23.20%-4 Ford16.80%12.80%-4.111.70%15.60%3.9 Chrysler8.40%11.70%3.26.30%13.10%6.8 Toyota3.40%6.80%3.43.90%4.60%0.7 I’m not sure43.80%33.10%-10.747.50%37.10%-10.4 General Motors in March extended its three-year-old partnership with MLB for another three years. The automaker was MLB’s top TV advertiser during the season, spending $7.1 million promoting Chevy products. GM also continued its sponsorships of the World Series MVP and Ted Williams All-Star Game MVP awards, the All-Star Game Selection Show, All-Star Game Red Carpet Show and the Roberto Clemente Award. Ford and Chrysler each sponsors a handful of clubs, while Toyota has about a dozen teams on its roster. Hotel chain*20072008Change20072008Change Holiday Inn—22.20%——16.80%— Best Western International—7.40%——7.60%— Hilton—6.90%——6.60%— Marriott—5.60%——5.60%— I’m not sure—49.50%——57.90%— More than 22 percent of avid fans identified third-year MLB sponsor Holiday Inn as the league’s official partner, matching the response total generated by 11-year sponsor MasterCard. InterContinental Hotels Group, Holiday Inn’s parent company, was No. 18 among MLB television advertisers, spending approximately $3.6 million in spots during the season. Shipping company*20072008Change20072008Change UPS—25.00%——28.90%— DHL—20.80%——17.30%— FedEx—17.60%——13.70%— U.S. Postal Service—2.80%——4.10%— I’m not sure—33.80%——36.00%— Despite having four years of MLB sponsorship under its belt, DHL ranked second in awareness among avid and casual fans in its operating category. The company spent about $2 million in advertising during MLB broadcasts this season. It also was title sponsor of the All-Star FanFest for the second time and has deals with nine clubs, including one with the New York Yankees that gave it a presence in Yankee Stadium’s final year, replacing the U.S. Postal Service in the delivery category. Wireless communications*20072008Change20072008Change NONE AT&T—18.50%——20.30%— Verizon Wireless—19.00%——18.80%— Sprint/Nextel—10.20%——10.70%— T-Mobile—7.90%——4.60%— Cellular One—4.60%——3.10%— I’m not sure—38.00%——41.60%— AT&T leveraged eight of its 11 team sponsorships with giveaways or promotions at 37 regular-season games this season. It also spent $4.6 million on MLB TV broadcasts this season, ninth-most among MLB advertisers. Sprint/Nextel spent an estimated $5 million (No. 7). Verizon, meanwhile, spent $2.9 million (No. 22), partnered with approximately half the league’s clubs, and sponsored 19 team promotions during the regular season. Airline*20072008Change20072008Change NONE American Airlines—13.40%——19.80%— Southwest—7.40%——12.20%— Delta—9.30%——6.10%— Continental—7.40%——5.10%— United Airlines—7.40%——5.10%— I’m not sure—43.50%——46.70%— Nearly every team has an airline partner, with no single carrier dominating the scene. No carrier appeared among the league’s top 50 TV advertisers. * Fans were not asked about their awareness of sponsors in this category in 2007, so comparisons are not available.