College fans taking note of NCAA sponsors
Fans of college sports are more aware of the companies that are official NCAA sponsors than they were a year ago, according to the fourth annual sponsor loyalty survey conducted for SportsBusiness Journal/Daily by Turnkey Sports & Entertainment.
All 12 official NCAA partners across the 11 categories tracked in the study saw a year-over-year increase in the percentage of fans who were aware of each brand’s NCAA partnership. Ten of those brands enjoyed their best awareness levels ever in the survey’s history.
|Ad efforts for Coca-Cola include campaigns pegged to March Madness.
More than 41 percent of all fans surveyed knew that Coca-Cola is the NCAA’s official soda, making it the NCAA’s most recognized partner for a second straight year. Capital One held that distinction in the survey’s first two years.
Coca-Cola and Capital One, along with AT&T, are NCAA corporate champions, the group’s highest level of sponsorship. That means they spend roughly twice as much as companies designated as corporate partners and receive many more assets to activate, such as the weekend concert series at the Final Four.
|Capital One ads feature Charles Barkley, Spike Lee and Samuel L. Jackson.
Coca-Cola in 2013 renewed its NCAA sponsorship, which began in 2002, with an 11-year deal. Nearly half (46 percent) of the avid fans polled were aware of the partnership, giving Coke three consecutive years of increased awareness level among that fan segment.
The increases in awareness coincide with Coke’s activation in 2015 and 2016, years that featured the “drinkable” ad campaign for the Coke Zero brand. With the help of music app Shazam, users pour a virtual Coke Zero into a virtual glass on their smartphones. March Madness-related campaigns have been featured as well.
The timing also aligns with the arrival of Ivan Pollard, Coke’s senior vice president of global connections, investment and assets. Beginning with the 2015 men’s basketball tournament, Pollard has been the senior executive determining how Coke will spend its sports marketing dollars.
Enterprise Rent-A-Car also saw its highest awareness level (34.8 percent among all fans) and a third straight year of increased awareness among avid fans. Those improvements coincide with the company’s ad campaign that highlights Enterprise employees who used to be college athletes.
|The AT&T Block Party was part of Final Four festivities.
■ AT&T and LG were the biggest movers, adding approximately 10 percentage points to their 2015 awareness levels. AT&T netted a brand-high 39 percent recognition rate, while 24 percent of fans recognized LG’s official status, also a brand best.
■ Twenty-four percent of avid fans correctly tabbed Northwestern Mutual as the official brand in the financial services category, doubling its rate from each of the past two years.
■ Buick has a wide lead in the auto category (22 percent among all respondents) and has seen a 12 percentage-point improvement among avid fans since the inaugural survey in 2013, the largest increase of the more than 70 brands tracked each year.
Staff writer Michael Smith contributed to this report.
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.
Respondents were screened 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. 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 more than 30 conferences and schools as well as for numerous sponsors that are involved in college sports.
IMPACT ON SAMPLING AND SUPPORT
Are you more or less likely to consider trying a product/service if that product/service is an official NCAA sponsor?
|Unaffected or less likely||47.5%||54.0%||52.0%||61.0%||70.8%||61.5%|
Are you more or less likely to consciously support a company by purchasing its products/services if the company is an official NCAA sponsor?
|Unaffected or less likely||49.0%||51.5%||51.0%||60.0%||70.3%||62.5%|
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 the NCAA?
|Unaffected or less likely||49.0%||60.0%||54.5%||58.5%||74.3%||68.0%|
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: 39 percent of the surveyed NCAA fans said they would be more likely to consider using a shipping/delivery company that is the NCAA's official sponsor in that category if they knew which company had that designation. That response rate increased to 58 percent when considering only those fans who correctly knew that UPS holds those rights for the NCAA.
|CATEGORY (NCAA SPONSOR)||AMONG ALL NCAA FANS||AMONG NCAA FANS WHO CORRECTLY IDENTIFIED THE SPONSOR||DIFFERENCE|
|Shipping services (UPS)||39%||58%||+19 pct. points|
|Insurance (Allstate)||39%||57%||+18 pct. points|
|Consumer electronics (LG)||41%||66%||+15 pct. points|
|Candy (Reese's)||45%||60%||+15 pct. points|
|Soft drink (Coca-Cola)||45%||58%||+13 pct. points|
|Rental car (Enterprise)||44%||57%||+13 pct. points|
|Wireless service (AT&T)||38%||50%||+12 pct. points|
|Life insurance/financial advisory services (Northwestern Mutual)||36%||48%||+12 pct. points|
|Casual dining (Buffalo Wild Wings)||43%||52%||+9 pct. points|
|Automobile (Buick*)||40%||48%||+8 pct. points|
|Credit card (Capital One)||40%||47%||+7 pct. points|
Subject: What brands do fans think should be NCAA sponsors?
To read: 69 percent of the surveyed NCAA fans said they think Coca-Cola should be an NCAA sponsor compared to 38 percent who think Pepsi should have such a partnership. Those numbers became 80 percent and 29 percent, respectively, when considering only those fans who correctly knew that Coca-Cola is the NCAA's official soft drink.
|AMONG ALL NCAA FANS||AMONG NCAA FANS WHO CORRECTLY IDENTIFIED THE SPONSOR|
|NCAA SPONSOR/COMPETITOR^||RESPONSE RATES||DIFFERENCE||RESPONSE RATES||DIFFERENCE|
|Buffalo Wild Wings / Fox & Hound||31% / 3%||+28 pct. points||55% / 1%||+54 pct. points|
|Coca-Cola / Pepsi||69% / 38%||+31 pct. points||80% / 29%||+51 pct. points|
|Allstate / Nationwide||36% / 22%||+14 pct. points||55% / 21%||+34 pct. points|
|AT&T / Verizon||50% / 42%||+8 pct. points||67% / 36%||+31 pct. points|
|Capital One / Chase||39% / 26%||+13 pct. points||56% / 25%||+31 pct. points|
|Enterprise / Hertz||29% / 19%||+10 pct. points||46% / 15%||+31 pct. points|
|UPS / FedEx||46% / 40%||+6 pct. points||63% / 33%||+30 pct. points|
|Reese's / Snickers||34% / 33%||+1 pct. point||58% / 32%||+26 pct. points|
|Northwestern Mutual / New York Life||15% / 15%||None||38% / 12%||+26 pct. points|
|Buick* / Chrysler||17% / 14%||+3 pct. points||33% / 11%||+22 pct. points|
|LG / Samsung||29% / 45%||-16 pct. points||45% / 41%||+4 pct. points|
* Both Buick and Infiniti are NCAA sponsors in the automobile category, but only Buick was featured in this portion of the survey.
^ Respondents 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?
* Official NCAA sponsor
^ While AT&T's sponsorship with the NCAA dates to 2007, a relationship for the company extends through corporate mergers and acquisitions to 2001, when Cingular was an NCAA sponsor.
NA: Not available; the company was not asked about in the survey in this year.