SBJ/April 29-May 5, 2013/Research and Ratings

Capital One charges to front in recognition

Capital One commercials featuring Alec Baldwin and Charles Barkley that aired during the NCAA men’s basketball tournament were aimed at fans’ funny bone, but it is the credit card company that may be smiling most.

More than 37 percent of fans surveyed in a Sponsor Loyalty survey conducted for SportsBusiness Journal/Daily by Turnkey Sports & Entertainment correctly identified Capital One as the NCAA’s official credit card, making it the most-recognized NCAA sponsor.

This is the first time SportsBusiness Journal has surveyed college sports fans as part of our sponsor loyalty series. The series was established in 2007 and features similar annual studies of MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, MLS, NASCAR and PGA Tour fans.

Capital One is one of three NCAA corporate champions, the organization’s highest level of sponsor involvement. The company’s affiliation with college sports began in 2001 with the title sponsorship of college football’s Capital One Bowl.

During this year’s NCAA tournament and several
Alec Baldwin and Charles Barkley anchored ads that ran during the NCAA tournament for Capital One, which is one of three NCAA top-level sponsors.
conference championships, Capital One ran nine new ads featuring Baldwin and Barkley: three on TV and six online. The brand’s year-round activation also includes ESPN/ABC’s Capital One Bowl Week and the Capital One Cup, a scholarship program for the school whose overall athletic program has the most success on the field in an academic year.

The NCAA’s two other corporate champions also generated high recognition levels in the survey — and each did so in a year when the Final Four came to Atlanta, a city in which the companies have a major presence.

Coca-Cola, whose global headquarters is in Atlanta, was correctly identified as an NCAA sponsor by nearly one-third of the 400 fans surveyed. The company earlier this year renewed its NCAA partnership, which began in 2002, with an 11-year deal. As part of its Black and Red All Over campaign, Coke Zero had a visible presence at many of Atlanta’s most prominent venues during the Final Four, including the Georgia Dome and Centennial Olympic Park. The Coke Zero brand also launched an ad effort during the basketball season aimed at men called “It’s Not Your Fault;” the product’s primary consumers are women. The campaign suggests absolving men of their sport addictions and, according to the parent company, “defends their right to guys-being-guys.”

AT&T, whose wireless operations are headquartered in Atlanta, was a presenting sponsor of TBS’s hosting of Conan O’Brien’s show in the city during the Final Four. As part of the promotional build-up to the Final Four at the Georgia Dome, both Coke Zero and AT&T had prominent branding on O’Brien’s website, TeamCoco.com. The company also customized its “It’s Not Complicated” ad series for the tournament, giving it a basketball theme.

Across the survey, in each of the categories tracked, an official NCAA sponsor drew the highest recognition rate among respondents. Among other sponsors:

More than 38 percent of avid NCAA basketball fans knew that Buffalo Wild Wings is an NCAA sponsor. Only Capital One scored higher among that fan segment. Buffalo Wild Wings also title sponsors a bowl game in Tempe, Ariz.

Enterprise was the clear leader in fan recognition among rental car companies. The company, whose eight-year NCAA sponsorship was set to expire after the 2013 tournament, extended its deal with the NCAA earlier this year. It managed the fleet of Buicks (another NCAA partner) at each tournament site for NCAA officials and VIPs.

While Buick was the most recognized auto brand in that category for the survey, its response rate was only 14 percent, lower than most other official NCAA sponsors. The 9 percent garnered by Infiniti was the lowest score among all sponsors.

Methodology

For this project, Turnkey Sports & Entertainment, through its Turnkey Intelligence operation, conducted national consumer research surveys among a sample of more than 400 members of the Toluna online panel who were at least 18 years old.

The data was collected April 1-5, the days leading up to the men’s Final Four. Respondents were screened and analyzed based on their general avidity levels. Fans categorized as “avid” were those who responded “4” or “5” to the questions “How big a fan are you of NCAA basketball?” and “How big a fan are you of NCAA football?,” then claimed to “look up NCAA basketball news, scores and standings several times a week or more often,” “watch/listen/attend at least 20 NCAA basketball games per season,” and “have a favorite NCAA basketball team.” Fans categorized as “casual” responded “3” to the same initial questions, then claimed to “look up NCAA basketball news, scores and standings several times a month or more often,” “watch/listen/attend at least five NCAA basketball games per season,” and “have a favorite NCAA basketball team.”

When asked to identify official sponsors, respondents selected from a field of companies and brands that was provided to them for each business sector. Only the top-scoring companies and brands are listed in the results published here. The percentage responses listed have been rounded. The margin of error for each survey is +/- 4.9 percentage points.

Turnkey Intelligence performs research work for several college athletic departments, including men’s basketball runner-up the University of Michigan, as well as numerous sponsors involved in college sports.


SPONSORSHIP SIGNIFICANCE AND ASSESSMENT

Subject: How much more likely are fans to consider purchasing/using an NCAA sponsor’s product/service if they are aware of the relationship?

To read: 31 percent of NCAA basketball fans said they would be more likely to consider purchasing a candy that is the NCAA’s official candy sponsor if they knew which brand had that designation. The rate increased to 51 percent when considering only those fans who correctly knew that Reese’s is the NCAA’s official candy.

Category (NCAA SPONSOR) Among All ncaa basketball Fans   Among ncaa basketball Fans Who Correctly Identified Sponsor   Difference
Shipping services (UPS) 32%   55%   +23 percentage points
Candy (Reese’s) 31%   51%   +20
Consumer electronics (LG) 32%   51%   +19
Insurance (Allstate) 28%   46%   +18
Automobile (Buick*) 28%   44%   +16
Wireless service (AT&T) 28%   44%   +16
Credit card (Capital One) 27%   40%   +13
Soft drink (Coca-Cola) 34%   46%   +12
Rental car (Enterprise) 30%   40%   +10
Restaurant (Buffalo Wild Wings) 35%   44%   +9

Subject: What brands do fans think should be NCAA sponsors?

To read: 39 percent of NCAA basketball fans said they think Buffalo Wild Wings should be an NCAA sponsor, compared with 8 percent who think Fox & Hound should have such a partnership. Those numbers became 72 percent and 8 percent, respectively, when considering only those NCAA basketball fans who correctly knew that Buffalo Wild Wings is the NCAA’s official restaurant.

  Among NCAA Basketball fans   Among NCAA Basketball Fans Who Correctly Identified Sponsor
NFL Tour Sponsor/Competitor Response Rates Difference   Response Rates Difference
Buffalo Wild Wings / Fox & Hound 39% / 8% +31 percentage points   72% / 8% +64 percentage points
Coca-Cola / Pepsi 58% / 41% +17   75% / 36% +39
Allstate / Nationwide 39% / 25% +14   70% / 32% +38
Capital One / Chase 43% / 27% +16   64% / 28% +36
UPS / FedEx 43% / 39% +4   71% / 36% +35
AT&T / Verizon 48% / 38% +10   71% / 40% +31
Reese’s / Snickers 30% / 34% -4   60% / 30% +30
LG / Samsung 31% / 34% -3   57% / 34% +23
Enterprise / Hertz 32% / 24% +8   44% / 22% +22
Buick* / Chrysler 24% / 19% +5   44% / 23% +21

* Although both Buick and Infiniti are NCAA sponsors in the automobile category, only Buick was featured in this element of the survey.
Notes: Fans could select both the official sponsor and the competitor if they chose to do so. The listed companies were selected by Turnkey for consideration in the survey file.

Which of the following is an official sponsor of the NCAA?

Credit card AVID   CASUAL
Capital One* 42.0%   32.5%
Bank of America 7.5%   3.5%
Chase 6.0%   4.5%
Citi 3.0%   4.5%
I’m not sure 37.5%   52.5%

Capital One was the most recognized brand in the survey. Basketball fans were invited to use the hashtag #rallycry any time they discussed their favorite team in social media during the men’s basketball tournament, and the team with the “loudest and proudest” fans, as calculated by Capital One’s internal metrics, were featured on the credit card’s social media websites. Fans who used their Capital One cards to purchase select tickets to tournament games through the NCAA also received 10 percent off their transactions.

Restaurant AVID   CASUAL
Buffalo Wild Wings* 38.5%   25.0%
Applebee’s 8.5%   10.5%
Chili’s 5.5%   3.5%
Denny’s 3.0%   2.0%
I’m not sure 41.5%   54.5%

Buffalo Wild Wings last summer assumed title sponsorship of a college football bowl game (in Tempe, Ariz.), and it followed that deal in January with an agreement that made it an NCAA sponsor to all 89 NCAA championships and the “official hangout” of March Madness. During the six weeks leading up to this year’s men’s basketball championship game, fans could earn points each time they made shots on a pop-a-shot game on the company’s mobile app or through buffalowildwings.com/bigshotchallenge. Each week, fans with the top 50 scores earned gift cards; the competition’s grand prize was a trip for four to next year’s Final Four.

Rental car AVID   CASUAL
Enterprise* 32.0%   26.5%
Hertz 5.5%   7.5%
National 5.5%   2.5%
Budget 6.0%   1.5%
I’m not sure 45.0%   57.0%

Throughout the month of January, fans could vote via an Enterprise-sponsored Facebook contest for the 2013 Best Road Trip Destination in College Basketball, with the winning school — Harding (Arkansas) University — featured on the “Geico Best of College Basketball” show that aired on CBS on April 6. The rental car company, an NCAA sponsor since 2005, laid out on its website its own list of “Elite Eight” tips to help fans not miss any action during the first two days of the tournament while at work, along with a blog from former NCAA coach Matt Doherty.

Soft drink AVID   CASUAL
Coca-Cola* 35.5%   28.0%
Pepsi 11.5%   9.0%
Dr Pepper 6.5%   5.0%
I’m not sure 38.0%   51.5%

Coca-Cola is the NCAA’s longest-standing corporate champion, with a relationship dating back to 2002. The Atlanta-based company during March Madness featured a co-branded Coke Zero promotional spot with Conan O’Brien, who brought his TBS show to Atlanta during the Final Four. Fans also had the chance to “Buy, Get, Play”: Through My Coke Rewards codes beneath the bottle caps of Coca-Cola products, fans could get gear from their favorite schools in the tournament and receive a team in the 2013 Coke Zero Bracket Challenge and a chance to win a $100,000 grand prize.

Wireless service AVID   CASUAL
AT&T* 35.0%   26.5%
Verizon 10.0%   11.0%
T-Mobile 6.5%   6.5%
Sprint 7.5%   5.0%
I’m not sure 39.0%   48.5%

For NCAA sponsor AT&T, one of its most visible activations was its sponsorship of the “AT&T at the Half” halftime show across CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV during tournament games, continuing a presence it had during CBS’s regular-season coverage. The AT&T logo was present on the broadcasters’ desk and was visible with on-screen graphics. Additionally, during the tournament, AT&T continued its “It’s Not Complicated” campaign with basketball-themed spots featuring NBA legends Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Bill Russell.

Shipping services AVID   CASUAL
UPS* 32.0%   21.5%
FedEx 19.5%   21.0%
U.S. Postal Service 6.0%   4.0%
I’m not sure 42.0%   51.5%

The NCAA and its vendors kept UPS busy with shipments to the Final Four in Atlanta. More than 100 UPS trucks and trailers traveled more than 63,000 miles making those deliveries, according to UPS. In addition, in January, Stats LLC debuted the UPS Team Performance Index for college basketball, measuring on-court team performance across a variety of factors. The two companies launched a similar product in August for college football. The index was updated throughout the seasons of both sports, with the leaders announced weekly at stats.com and reported regularly by national media outlets.

Consumer electronics AVID   CASUAL
LG* 23.0%   16.5%
Samsung 10.5%   11.0%
Sony 9.0%   6.0%
Vizio 3.0%   2.5%
I’m not sure 51.0%   61.5%

At the LG Fan House at Bracket Town, LG Electronics USA hosted the LG Coaches Cook-Off featuring coaches Bob Huggins (West Virginia) and Frank Martin (South Carolina) with celebrity chef Richard Blais. The Cook-Off (won by Huggins) benefited the Coaches vs. Cancer program. LG also played host to a Harlem Globetrotters game, and during the game, the Globetrotters incorporated various LG products, including an LG Smart TV and an LG refrigerator. Throughout the season, fans could win a trip to the Final Four by playing the LG 2013 Do March Right Sweepstakes. Entry to the contest was available through LG’s website, Twitter, Facebook or by text.

Candy AVID   CASUAL
Reese’s* 25.5%   18.0%
Snickers 15.0%   10.5%
Kit Kat 2.0%   3.5%
I’m not sure 50.0%   62.5%

Reese’s was the title sponsor for Reese’s Final Four Friday, when fans in Atlanta were able to watch the Final Four teams in an open practice and attend a prepractice concert. CBS Sports Network’s tape-delayed coverage of the Reese’s College All-Star Game was watched by 261,000 viewers. The Hershey Co. brand this spring also launched LetsGoReeses.com, featuring videos of college life from around the country, tailgating recipes involving peanut butter cups, online games and activities, and a place to enter the Reese’s/NCAA March Madness Let’s Go Reese’s promotion.

Automobile AVID   CASUAL
Buick* 14.5%   14.0%
Chevrolet 18.5%   10.0%
Ford 15.5%   7.5%
Toyota 12.5%   8.0%
Infiniti* 10.0%   7.5%
Honda 9.5%   3.0%
I’m not sure 44.5%   62.0%

The automotive category features two NCAA corporate partners: Buick and Infiniti. Buick throughout the tournament promoted The Buick Human Highlight Reel, an online collection of featured stories from college athletes who went on to achieve great accomplishments after their playing careers had ended. For Infiniti, this year was the third year for its Infiniti Coaches’ Charity Challenge: From January through mid-March, more than 460,000 votes were cast at ESPN.com/Infiniti. Each of the 48 participating coaches received $5,000 for his charity, with the winner (Ohio State’s Thad Matta) receiving $100,000 for his designated charity.

Insurance AVID   CASUAL
Allstate* 23.5%   17.5%
State Farm 12.0%   8.5%
Geico 13.0%   6.5%
Nationwide 3.0%   6.5%
Progressive 4.5%   5.0%
Liberty Mutual 2.5%   2.0%
I’m not sure 41.5%   54.0%

Fans who entered the ESPN Tournament Challenge at ESPN.com could also enter the Allstate Tourney Challenge Sweepstakes for a chance to win the grand prize of a trip for two to the 2013 NCAA Final Four and $50,000. At Bracket Town during the Final Four, Allstate’s “Team Mayhem,” headlined by television analysts Dick Vitale and Bill Raftery, met fans and signed autographs.

* Official NCAA sponsor

Are you more or less likely to consider trying a product/service if that product/service is an official NCAA sponsor?
  AVID   CASUAL
More likely 43.5%   25.5%
Unaffected or less likely 56.5%   74.5%
 
Are you more or less likely to consciously support a company by purchasing its products/services if the company is an official NCAA sponsor?
  AVID   CASUAL
More likely 46.0%   31.5%
Unaffected or less likely 54.0%   68.5%
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