|Coca-Cola honored the North Carolina Tar Heels’ national championship with signature bottles.
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.
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.
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?
|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?
|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?
|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?