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Volume 20 No. 42

Research and Ratings

Coca-Cola honored the North Carolina Tar Heels’ national championship with signature bottles.
The partnerships that the NCAA has with Capital One and Coca-Cola have become two of the most recognized in sports, according to the fifth annual NCAA Sponsor Loyalty survey, conducted for SportsBusiness Journal/Daily by Turnkey Sports & Entertainment.

The bank and soda brand each were correctly identified by nearly half of the college basketball fans in the study, a level that puts them among some of sport’s most-tenured partnerships. In surveys conducted over the past year, only ubiquitous sports sponsors Goodyear (NASCAR), Papa John’s (NFL), Gatorade (NBA and NFL), FedEx (PGA Tour) and Coke for its work in NASCAR and MLS topped Capital One and Coke’s NCAA basketball results (see charts at bottom).

Comparable studies are conducted each year among NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, MLS, NASCAR and PGA Tour fans.

Capital One and Coke, along with AT&T, are NCAA corporate champions, the organization’s highest level of sponsorship.

Capital One, an NCAA partner since 2010, spent an estimated $44.2 million to advertise during telecasts of this spring’s college basketball postseason tournaments, according to iSpot.tv data. The credit card aired five different spots featuring Samuel L. Jackson, Charles Barkley and Spike Lee.

Capital One highlighted its NCAA relationship with a series of humorous ads starring Samuel L. Jackson and Charles Barkley (above), along with Spike Lee.

Coke’s strong showing was bolstered by the 51 percent of avid fans who correctly identified the brand’s official sponsor status, the highest rate any brand in the NCAA study has ever received among that fan segment. Among all 400 fans surveyed each year, the soda maker has seen its awareness level increase a survey-best 17 percentage points since the inaugural study in 2013, to 49 percent this year. Coke has been an NCAA partner since 2002 and is in the fourth year of an 11-year deal with the organization.

Overall, 10 of the 11 brands studied this year enjoyed their highest awareness levels ever. Only Buick, which saw its overall level drop slightly compared to 2016, failed to hit an all-time high.

Rival Nissan saw its numbers increase by a survey-high 9 percentage points. Nissan’s jump puts it within just two percentage points of Buick, compared to a 12 percentage point gap a year ago. Although Nissan’s college basketball presence is minimal, it did spend $49 million during college football telecasts last season, which was nearly one-quarter of what it spent on all TV advertising during those two seasons, according to iSpot.tv.

NCAA official casual dining restaurant Buffalo Wild Wings’ consistent advertising presence helped it jump 5 percentage points among avid fans from 2016 to 2017.


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.

This year’s data was collected March 28-April 4, a period leading up to the men’s and women’s Final Fours. The 2015 and 2016 data was collected during a period both before and during that year’s Final Fours.

Respondents were screened 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 NCAA basketball?”; 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 question, 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.

What Brands Do NCAA Basketball Fans Consider Buying?

To read: 56 percent of NCAA basketball fans said they would consider purchasing life insurance and/or financial advisory services from the NCAA's official sponsor in that category if they knew which company had that designation. That response rate declined to 16 percent when considering only those fans who did not realize that Northwestern Mutual is the NCAA's sponsor in that category.

CATEGORY (NCAA SPONSOR) AMONG ALL NCAA FANS AMONG NCAA FANS WHO CORRECTLY IDENTIFIED THE SPONSOR DIFFERENCE
Life insurance/financial advisory services (Northwestern Mutual) 56% 16% +40 pct. points
Casual dining (Buffalo Wild Wings)  84% 45% +39 pct. points
Consumer electronics (LG)  83% 50% +33 pct. points
Candy (Reese's)  87% 56% +31 pct. points
Rental car (Enterprise)  84% 54% +30 pct. points
Insurance (Allstate) 75% 45% +30 pct. points
Wireless service (AT&T)  74% 40% +34 pct. points
Credit card (Capital One)  70% 41% +29 pct. points
Soft drink (Coca-Cola)  86% 60% +26 pct. points
Automobile (Buick*)  40% 20% +20 pct. points

What Brands Do Fans Think Are NCAA Basketball Sponsors?

To read: 34 percent of NCAA basketball fans said they think Buffalo Wild Wings is a leader in the casual restaurant category compared to 6 percent who think Fox & Hound has the same status. Those numbers became 52 percent and 5 percent, respectively, among only those NCAA basketball fans who correctly knew that Buffalo Wild Wings is the NCAA's casual restaurant.

  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 34% / 6% +28 pct. points 52% / 5%  +47 pct. points
Coca-Cola / Pepsi  73% / 41% +32 pct. points 83% / 38%  +45 pct. points
Allstate / Nationwide  41% / 22% 19 pct. points 61% / 21%  +40 pct. points
AT&T / Verizon 51% / 46% +5 pct. points 66% / 37%  +29 pct. points
Capital One / Chase  46% / 31% +15 pct. points 58% / 33%  +25 pct. points
Enterprise / Hertz  35% / 24% +11 pct. points 49% / 17%  +32 pct. points
Reese's / Snickers  36% / 39% -3 pct. points 56% / 48%  +8 pct. points
Northwestern Mutual / New York Life 13% / 17% -4 pct. points 24% / 12%  +12 pct. points
Buick* / Chrysler 17% / 16% +1 pct. points 29% / 17%  +12 pct. points
LG / Samsung 34% / 52% -18 pct. points 48% / 55%  -7 pct. points

* Both Buick and Infiniti are NCAA sponsors in the automobile category, but 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.
Percentage responses listed have been rounded.

 

Impact on Sampling and Support

Are you more or less likely to consider trying a product/service if that product/service is an official sponsor of the NCAA?

  Avid Casual
  2017 2016 2015 2017 2016 2015
More likely 58.7% 52.5% 46.0% 40.7% 39.0% 29.2%
Unaffected or less likely 41.2% 47.5% 54.0% 59.3% 61.0% 70.8%

Are you more or less likely to consciously support a company by purchasing its products/services if the company is an official sponsor of the NCAA?

  Avid Casual
  2017 2016 2015 2017 2016 2015
More likely 59.7% 51.0% 48.5% 44.4% 40.0% 29.7%
Unaffected or less likely 40.3% 49.0% 51.5% 55.6% 60.0% 70.3%

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 the NCAA?

  Avid Casual
  2017 2016 2015 2017 2016 2015
More likely 58.2% 51.0% 40.0% 44.8% 41.5% 25.7%
Unaffected or less likely 41.8% 49.0% 60.0% 55.1% 58.5% 74.3%

 

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

  Avid Casual
CREDIT CARD
  2017 2016 2015 2017 2016 2015
Capital One* 48.5% 44.5% 40.5% 50.0% 33.0% 30.7%
Bank of America 8.3% 9.0% 8.5% 5.7% 10.5% 9.4%
Chase  3.4% 4.0% 11.0% 5.2% 4.0% 4.0%
Citi 5.3% 4.5% 2.0% 2.1% 1.5% 2.0%
I'm not sure 25.2% 26.5% 31.5% 30.9% 46.0% 49.5%
* NCAA Corporate Champion since 2010
  Avid Casual
SOFT DRINK
  2017 2016 2015 2017 2016 2015
Coca-Cola*  50.5% 46.0% 45.0% 47.4% 36.5% 29.2%
Pepsi  10.2% 10.5% 10.0% 14.9% 10.5% 9.9%
Dr Pepper  8.3% 9.5% 5.5% 3.6% 3.5% 4.0%
I'm not sure  24.8% 26.0% 32.0% 25.3% 44.0% 49.5%
* NCAA Corporate Champion since 2002
  Avid Casual
CASUAL DINING
  2017 2016 2015 2017 2016 2015
Buffalo Wild Wings* 46.1% 41.0% 36.5% 38.1% 30.5% 24.3%
Applebee's 10.7% 10.0% 14.0% 9.3% 3.5% 11.4%
Chili's 2.4% 2.0% 4.0% 4.1% 5.0% 2.0%
I'm not sure  29.1% 35.0% 36.5% 37.1% 51.5% 57.9%
* NCAA Corporate Partner since 2013
  Avid Casual
WIRELESS SERVICE
  2017 2016 2015 2017 2016 2015
AT&T*^ 44.2% 41.0% 32.5% 36.6% 36.5% 24.3%
Verizon 10.7% 11.0% 13.5% 16.5% 9.0% 9.9%
T-Mobile 9.7% 9.5% 8.0% 8.8% 6.0% 2.5%
Sprint 6.8% 5.5% 5.0% 6.7% 2.0% 4.5%
I'm not sure  24.8% 29.5% 35.0% 26.3% 44.0% 55.4%
* NCAA Corporate Champion since 2007
^ 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.
  Avid Casual
RENTAL CAR
  2017 2016 2015 2017 2016 2015
Enterprise* 39.8% 41.5% 37.0% 42.8% 28.0% 24.3%
National 11.2% 10.5% 5.0% 5.2% 3.5% 2.5%
Hertz 7.3% 4.5% 11.0% 6.7% 5.5% 6.9%
Budget 3.9% 2.0% 2.5% 4.6% 2.5% 1.5%
I'm not sure  31.6% 33.5% 38.5% 36.1% 55.0% 60.9%
* NCAA Corporate Partner since 2005
  Avid Casual
INSURANCE
  2017 2016 2015 2017 2016 2015
Allstate* 37.4% 28.0% 25.5% 37.6% 23.5% 17.8%
Geico 14.1% 10.5% 9.0% 9.3% 8.0% 5.9%
State Farm 9.2% 11.0% 11.5% 9.8% 5.0% 2.0%
I'm not sure  22.8% 28.5% 35.0% 25.8% 50.5% 60.4%
* NCAA Corporate Partner since 2012
  Avid Casual
CANDY
  2017 2016 2015 2017 2016 2015
Reese's* 29.6% 27.5% 29.5% 32.5% 26.0% 17.3%
Snickers 16.0% 16.5% 16.0% 12.9% 10.0% 14.4%
Kit Kat 9.2% 7.0% 5.0% 8.2% 6.5% 2.0%
I'm not sure  33.5% 40.0% 40.5% 38.7% 51.5% 59.4%
* NCAA Corporate Partner since 2009
  Avid Casual
CONSUMER ELECTRONICS
  2017 2016 2015 2017 2016 2015
LG* 24.3% 24.0% 13.5% 31.4% 24.0% 15.3%
Samsung 26.7% 21.5% 20.0% 21.6% 11.5% 11.4%
Sony 7.8% 9.5% 7.5% 6.7% 4.5% 9.4%
I'm not sure  34.5% 38.5% 50.5% 36.6% 54.0% 60.4%
* NCAA Corporate Partner since 2012
  Avid Casual
LIFE INSURANCE/FINANCIAL ADVISORY SERVICES
  2017 2016 2015 2017 2016 2015
Northwestern Mutual* 22.3% 24.0% 11.5% 25.8% 17.0% 11.9%
Prudential 9.2% 10.0% 13.0% 8.8% 4.0% 6.9%
The Hartford 3.9% 6.5% 3.5% 4.6% 3.5% 1.5%
I'm not sure  38.3% 39.5% 52.0% 44.8% 63.0% 72.3%
* NCAA Corporate Partner since 2012
  Avid Casual
AUTOMOBILE
  2017 2016 2015 2017 2016 2015
Buick* 22.8% 26.5% 21.5% 20.6% 18.0% 14.4%
Nissan 24.8% 11.0% NA 14.4% 10.0% NA
Ford 20.9% 13.0% 20.5% 13.9% 9.0% 11.4%
Chevrolet 20.4% 22.0% 18.5% 13.4% 7.5% 11.9%
Toyota 19.9% 17.0% 18.0% 12.4% 8.0% 7.9%
Infiniti* 17.5% 10.5% 7.0% 13.4% 10.5% 7.9%
Hyundai 11.7% 12.5% NA 7.2% 6.0% NA
I'm not sure  25.7% 31.5% 39.0% 34.5% 53.0% 60.4%
* NCAA Corporate Partner, both since 2011
NA: Not available; the company was not asked about in the survey that year.