SBJ/November 21-27, 2011/Research and Ratings

Pepsi bubbles up to its best recognition rate

Pepsi leads a group of five sponsors that scored a record-high level of fan recognition this year in the fifth annual SportsBusiness Journal/SportsBusiness Daily sponsor loyalty survey on MLB, conducted by Turnkey Sports & Entertainment.

The 2011 season was Pepsi’s 15th season as MLB’s official soft drink. In the survey, the number of avid fans who correctly identified the brand as an official sponsor of the league increased 14.5 percentage points from 2010, to more than 42 percent, the biggest one-year jump in the survey and the highest score ever for the brand.

This is also the first time in the five-year history of the study that the percentage of all fans selecting Pepsi as MLB’s official soft drink sponsor was higher than the percentage of fans identifying Coca-Cola in the category.

CC Sabathia was among the stars of the critically acclaimed “Field of Dreams” campaign.

Pepsi in March rolled out its “Field of Dreams”-inspired Pepsi Max TV campaign, featuring current and past MLB stars. The critically acclaimed spots had more than a half-dozen hall of famers, including Dennis Eckersley, Carlton Fisk and Rollie Fingers, and current stars CC Sabathia, Jim Thome and Evan Longoria all playing in a cornfield that was created specifically for the ads in a Tampa warehouse

The company spent an estimated $7.6 million for total ad time during regular-season national telecasts this year, according to Nielsen data, ranking it No. 11 among all spenders. The “Field” campaign marked a change in Pepsi’s typical spending pattern, however. The brand’s support of its MLB sponsorship typically comes before the All-Star Game. In this case, it expanded on the “Field” effort for the second half of the season. There also was the continued emphasis by the company on its Pepsi Max label. PepsiCo promoted its Pepsi brand and its Aquafina water in prior MLB campaigns.

As in past years, the sponsor loyalty survey measures fan awareness in each of 12 business categories. MLB has an official sponsor in nine of those 12 categories.

For the first time in the MLB survey’s history, all nine of those sponsors saw an increase in awareness score among avid fans, ranging from a 0.2 percentage point increase for MasterCard to Pepsi’s 14.5 percentage point jump.

InterContinental Hotel Group’s Holiday Inn brand was another big mover — in what was the last year of a six-year deal for the company with MLB. The property garnered a best-ever recognition level of 21.6 percent among avid fans, nearly double its 2010 rate. Additionally, the gap between Holiday Inn and its competitors is the biggest such margin in the hotel category across all of the past sponsor loyalty surveys — including comparable surveys for NFL, NHL, NBA, NASCAR, MLS, PGA Tour and the Olympics.

Holiday Inn (top) ran away with the hotel category, and fellow sponsor Taco Bell won a close victory in quick-service restaurants.

About 15 percent of casual MLB fans correctly identified the brand’s official status with the league, as well, a number more than double Holiday Inn’s closest competitor.

Holiday Inn’s “Official Provider of Road Trips” campaign, which included exposure on national MLB game telecasts and was supplemented by a deal with MLB Advanced Media for a presence on MLB.com and team websites, was the brand’s broadest U.S.-based sports sponsorship in recent years. In addition, as part of the brand’s “Pay It Forward” campaign, which launched in April, for every good deed posted to the Holiday Inn Facebook page, Holiday Inn and MLB donated a ticket to give an underserved child a chance to see an MLB game. A total of 5,000 tickets were donated.

Del Ross, vice president, U.S. sales and marketing at IHG, said in an email that the company “enjoys” its relationship with MLB and “will continue to evaluate [the sponsorship] through the renewal process.”

In other findings for official sponsors:

Taco Bell edged McDonald’s in the fast-food category, with its 16.7 percent recognition rate among avid fans being the best ever for Taco Bell.

State Farm was the clear leader in insurance. Its 20.1 percent recognition mark among avid fans was a best-ever, as well.

More than 23 percent of casual MLB fans correctly identified MasterCard as the league’s credit card partner, the highest level ever among that set of fans for the brand and one of the few times in the history of the sponsor loyalty survey that, within the same category, the level of awareness among casual fans is higher than that of avid fans.

Anheuser-Busch saw a slight increase this year among avid fans, but its 13 percentage point decline since 2009 is the biggest among current league sponsors. A-B also has 26 team deals.

Are you more or less likely to consider trying a product/service if that product/service is an official sponsor of MLB?
  AVID   CASUAL
  2011 2010 2009   2011 2010 2009
More likely 49.0% 37.8% 52.5%   35.2% 33.7% 40.6%
Unaffected or less likely 51.0% 62.2% 47.5%   64.8% 66.3% 59.4%
 
 
Are you more or less likely to regularly consume a product/service if that product/service is an official sponsor of MLB?
  AVID   CASUAL
  2011 2010 2009   2011 2010 2009
More likely 47.3% 38.8% 43.6%   32.7% 29.7% 27.7%
Unaffected or less likely 52.7% 61.2% 56.4%   67.3% 70.3% 72.3%
 
 
Are you more or less likely to recommend a product/service to a friend or family member if that product/service is an official sponsor of MLB?
  AVID   CASUAL
  2011 2010 2009   2011 2010 2009
More likely 43.8% 35.8% 40.7%   32.7% 33.2% 27.2%
Unaffected or less likely 56.2% 64.2% 59.3%   67.3% 66.8% 72.8%
   
   
Are you more or less likely to consciously support a company by purchasing its products/services if the company is an official sponsor of MLB?  
  AVID   CASUAL
  2011 2010 2009   2011 2010 2009
More likely 48.3% 39.3% NA   37.7% 34.2% NA
Unaffected or less likely 51.7% 60.7% NA   62.3% 65.8% NA

NA: Not applicable; question was not asked in annual survey.

Methodology

Turnkey Sports & Entertainment, through its Turnkey Intelligence operation, conducted national consumer research surveys among a sample of 404 members of the Greenfield Online Omnibus panel who were at least 18 years old.

This year’s survey was conducted Oct. 17-20, a period that began just after the League Championship Series games had been completed and running through Game 2 of the World Series. Last year’s survey was conducted Oct. 26-30, wrapping up on the day of Game 3 of the World Series.

Respondents were screened and analyzed based on their avidity levels. Fans categorized as “avid” were those who responded “4” or “5” to the question “How big a fan are you of MLB?” and claimed to “look up news, scores and standings 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 news, scores and standings several times a month or more often,” “watch/listen/attend at least 3 games per season” and “have a favorite team.”

The percentage responses listed have been rounded. The margin of error for each survey is +/- 5 percent. Ad spending totals are from Nielsen and represent estimated spending during game broadcasts on Fox, ESPN/ESPN2, TBS and MLB Network based on network-provided rate cards.

Turnkey performs research and consulting work for more than 70 North American major league clubs as well as numerous league offices and sports brands. MLB Advanced Media is among the company’s clients.

  AVID   CASUAL
QUICK-SERVICE RESTAURANT 2011 2010 2009   2011 2010 2009
Taco Bell* 16.7% 15.4% 9.2%   12.6% 14.6% 7.4%
McDonald’s 16.7% 18.9% 14.5%   11.1% 9.6% 7.9%
Subway 12.8% 10.5% 4.8%   13.6% 10.6% 8.4%
Burger King 1.0% 4.0% 16.4%   5.5% 4.0% 8.4%
I’m not sure 45.1% 43.6% 44.0%   50.3% 55.8% 56.7%

For the second straight year, the percentage of MLB fans who correctly identified Taco Bell as the league’s official QSR was slightly higher than the percentage who identified McDonald’s. Taco Bell has been an official league partner since 2004, and since 2007, when we debuted the sponsor loyalty survey, the volume of avid fans who correctly recognize Taco Bell’s MLB affiliation has increased by 10.6 percentage points. The brand this season ran a national TV ad featuring San Francisco closer Brian Wilson promoting the XXL Chalupa. It also had team-level deals with the Giants, Arizona, Colorado, Philadelphia and Houston.

  AVID   CASUAL
SOFT DRINK 2011 2010 2009   2011 2010 2009
Pepsi* 42.4% 27.9% 36.2%   32.7% 28.1% 21.2%
Coca-Cola 22.2% 31.8% 34.8%   14.6% 27.1% 34.5%
Dr Pepper 3.5% 3.0% 1.5%   5.0% 2.5% 5.9%
I’m not sure 27.6% 31.8% 25.6%   39.7% 37.2% 34.5%

Pepsi has been MLB’s official soda since 1997 and has pouring rights and marketing deals with 16 clubs, including five of this year’s playoff teams. The Pepsi Max “Field of Dreams” TV campaign, which featured current and past MLB stars, was well-received in advertising circles. Coca-Cola saw its numbers fall despite leading all brands by having 78 brand-themed promotions or sponsored stadium giveaways at ballparks this season, more than double its total from 2010.

  AVID   CASUAL
AUTOMOBILE 2011 2010 2009   2011 2010 2009
General Motors (Chevrolet)* 31.9% 26.4% 33.5%   18.1% 24.1% 29.2%
Ford 14.2% 16.9% 26.2%   10.6% 13.1% 18.8%
Toyota 8.3% 9.4% 6.8%   7.5% 7.5% 4.0%
Chrysler 2.5% 5.0% 13.1%   3.0% 4.5% 12.4%
I’m not sure 37.8% 39.3% 37.4%   54.8% 44.7% 44.6%

In July, General Motors, a league sponsor since 2005, signed a five-year extension for Chevrolet to remain MLB’s official vehicle as well as presenting sponsor for the All-Star Red Carpet Show, the Ted Williams All-Star Game MVP Award, the World Series MVP Award and the Roberto Clemente Award. Chevrolet also sponsored Fox’s pregame and postgame shows during the playoffs. Recognition for GM among avid fans jumped five percentage points from last year’s survey to its second-highest level since our debut survey in 2007. Eleven clubs hosted a total of 45 Chevrolet-themed promotions or stadium giveaways, more than triple the number from 2010. In addition, the Detroit Tigers hosted 21 nationally televised games, and following many commercial breaks, networks showed close-ups of Comerica Park’s center-field Chevrolet Fountain fixture.

  AVID   CASUAL
HOTEL 2011 2010 2009   2011 2010 2009
Holiday Inn* 21.6% 11.9% 18.6%   15.1% 12.6% 15.8%
Marriott 6.4% 10.5% 8.8%   7.0% 8.0% 9.9%
Hilton 6.9% 6.0% 9.8%   5.5% 7.0% 5.5%
Best Western 6.4% 5.0% 2.5%   3.0% 3.5% 5.9%
I’m not sure 50.5% 58.7% 53.4%   60.8% 60.3% 57.4%

Holiday Inn’s “Official Provider of Road Trips” campaign appears to have resonated with avid MLB fans: The percentage of those fans who correctly selected the brand as the league’s official hotel in 2011 was up 9.6 percentage points from last year, trailing only Pepsi for the biggest such improvement. Holiday Inn also had a visible presence on each team’s website, with a banner ad telling fans to “Plan Your Road Trip Now” by clicking on the ad and booking a room.

  AVID   CASUAL
SPORTS/ENERGY DRINK 2011 2010 2009   2011 2010 2009
Gatorade* 46.3% 44.8% 58.5%   34.2% 35.2% 41.4%
Powerade 9.9% 7.0% 3.9%   7.5% 9.0% 11.8%
Red Bull 9.4% 6.5% 2.4%   6.0% 8.5% 3.9%
I’m not sure 30.5% 36.3% 30.4%   45.7% 31.7% 37.9%

Gatorade has been an MLB partner since 1990, has 17 club-level deals and this season, for the first time, had an official sponsorship with MLB Advanced Media, as well. The brand ran a national TV campaign for its G Series line that featured Minnesota’s Joe Mauer. It also produced a Derek Jeter congratulatory ad in Sports Illustrated following Jeter’s 3,000th hit and it issued a limited-release Jeter 3000 commemorative label for the occasion. Category competitor Powerade drew eyeballs in part as an MLBAM advertiser. It featured a banner ad on mlb.com that touted Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard and a series of “learn to hit” videos featuring the Powerade endorser.

  AVID   CASUAL
WIRELESS TELECOMMUNICATIONS 2011 2010 2009   2011 2010 2009
Verizon Wireless 21.7% 16.9% 17.7%   15.6% 16.1% 13.4%
Sprint 15.3% 12.4% 10.3%   14.6% 13.1% 14.4%
AT&T 16.8% 16.9% 24.0%   11.6% 13.6% 16.8%
T-Mobile 5.9% 5.5% 2.9%   7.5% 6.5% 5.0%
I’m not sure 36.0% 42.8% 38.2%   48.7% 47.7% 44.6%

MLB is without a wireless sponsor, but MLBAM has a highly visible Sprint deal. That visibility in 2011 included seasonlong, rotating banner ads on MLB.com and on select team websites. Verizon was the category’s top TV ad spender, with $12.43 million spent. It also has team-level deals with more than half of MLB’s 30 clubs and sponsored stadium giveaways or promotions at 17 games this season.

  AVID   CASUAL
BEER 2011 2010 2009   2011 2010 2009
Anheuser-Busch* 39.9% 37.8% 52.9%   37.2% 36.2% 43.1%
Miller 14.8% 17.9% 7.8%   14.6% 13.1% 8.9%
Coors 13.8% 10.5% 12.1%   8.0% 11.6% 16.8%
I’m not sure 26.6% 25.9% 20.9%   35.2% 32.7% 28.2%

In addition to its league-level sponsorship, Anheuser-Busch has 26 team-level deals, including with both 2011 World Series participants. The brand has been a league sponsor since 1980, but both A-B and MillerCoors are official sponsors of MLBAM. A-B, as well as its Budweiser and Bud Light brands, received extensive exposure as a result of the company’s naming-rights deal in St. Louis: Busch Stadium hosted 32 games that aired nationally on either Fox, ESPN, TBS or MLB Network in 2011. Miller, similarly, benefited from having its name on the Milwaukee Brewers’ ballpark, although its ballpark signage is not nearly as prominent as that of its St. Louis-based rival, and the Brewers appeared in only 18 nationally televised games during the year.

  AVID   CASUAL
BANK 2011 2010 2009   2011 2010 2009
Bank of America* 36.0% 34.8% 39.7%   24.1% 21.6% 31.7%
Citibank 7.9% 6.5% 9.8%   9.1% 7.0% 6.9%
Wells Fargo 4.9% 4.0% 1.0%   5.5% 7.5% 3.0%
I’m not sure 40.9% 40.0% 41.2%   53.8% 56.3% 46.0%

Bank of America saw an increase in recognition among both avid and casual fans and was the only bank to receive double digits in recognition. With an emphasis placed on grassroots marketing, the bank in April enlisted players from the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers to help distribute free tickets and sign autographs in select areas throughout their cities. Bank staffers in those markets also gave away concession vouchers and tickets to fans who attended the home openers of those clubs. BofA has been a league partner since 2004.

  AVID   CASUAL
INSURANCE 2011 2010 2009   2011 2010 2009
State Farm* 20.1% 12.9% 15.4%   13.6% 14.0% 20.1%
Geico 12.8% 17.4% 18.8%   10.1% 12.0% 20.6%
Allstate 7.4% 8.0% 13.9%   7.0% 8.5% 13.2%
Aflac 7.4% 3.0% 1.0%   3.5% 9.6% 1.0%
Progressive 5.4% 5.5% 1.5%   4.5% 4.0% 3.9%
I’m not sure 38.2% 46.8% 45.1%   54.8% 48.2% 37.8%

One-fifth of avid fans correctly picked State Farm as the league’s official partner, a designation it has had since 2007. The company maintained a team-level portfolio of 24 clubs, same as in 2010, and each of those deals provided in-stadium signage. In addition, for the second straight season, State Farm ran its Go To Bat program. The campaign gave consumers the ability to “go to bat” for their favorite charity for a chance to win an $18,000 weekly donation for the charity and a trip for two to the World Series for themselves.

  AVID   CASUAL
CREDIT CARD 2011 2010 2009   2011 2010 2009
Visa 29.9% 24.9% 17.0%   17.6% 21.1% 17.8%
MasterCard* 21.6% 21.4% 27.7%   23.6% 16.1% 18.3%
American Express 7.8% 6.5% 15.5%   6.5% 9.0% 17.8%
Discover 5.9% 4.0% 7.3%   4.5% 4.5% 4.5%
I’m not sure 34.3% 41.3% 32.5%   47.2% 48.2% 41.6%

League and MLBAM sponsor MasterCard saw a slight increase in recognition among avid fans, but its mark for 2011 (21.6 percent) still lags what it scored two years ago (27.7 percent). It also trails Visa for recognition among avids fans, with Visa seeing an increase of almost 13 percentage points among avids since 2009. Visa notably made the most of its sole club-level partnership in 2011, offering the Trophy Tour presented by Visa, a five-month tour of San Francisco’s 2010 World Series trophy. MasterCard did surpass Visa among casual fans, however, and it did so in a year in which the brand renewed for an additional five years its corporate sponsorship of MLB, a partnership that dates to 1997. It began activating those rights during Fox’s All-Star Game broadcast. The “Eat, Drink and Be Generous” initiative encouraged consumers to use MasterCard at restaurants, including ballpark concessions stands, with a penny being donated by MasterCard to Stand Up To Cancer for each use.

  AVID   CASUAL
AIRLINE 2011 2010 2009   2011 2010 2009
Southwest 15.2% 13.4% 11.3%   10.6% 8.5% 7.4%
American Airlines 13.7% 14.4% 15.2%   7.0% 14.1% 19.3%
Delta 10.3% 9.9% 9.8%   10.1% 11.6% 6.4%
United 9.3% 6.4% 2.0%   8.0% 6.0% 4.5%
I’m not sure 41.2% 43.5% 47.6%   55.3% 48.7% 53.0%

The merger between United Airlines and Continental Airlines was approved in fall 2010, and the new, combined company used MLB’s Opening Day to launch its post-merger brand in four MLB markets where the carrier operates an airport hub: Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston and Cleveland. The new logo for the company had its most visible appearance in Chicago, on a rooftop behind Wrigley Field’s left-center-field bleachers.

  AVID   CASUAL
SHIPPING SERVICES 2011 2010 2009   2011 2010 2009
FedEx 31.9% 25.9% 30.4%   24.1% 29.2% 27.7%
UPS 18.6% 18.9% 18.1%   12.6% 16.6% 16.3%
U.S. Postal Service 6.4% 7.0% 2.9%   5.0% 5.0% 3.5%
I’m not sure 40.2% 41.8% 38.7%   54.3% 47.2% 47.5%

The shipping category was vacant in MLB for a third straight season. UPS sponsored five clubs and FedEx sponsored three, both totals unchanged from 2010.

* Official league sponsor

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