Sponsorship: Sponsorship reaches for World Cup goals - This year’s football World Cup is the biggest ever and for official sponsors the tournament represents massive exposure. But the PR effort doesn’t end once the sponsorship deal is sign

Sponsors have been clamouring for months to generate maximum value from the huge amounts of money they have invested in being associated with France 98. The 12 global sponsors have paid around pounds 12.5 million each and there are also eight official England team sponsors who have committed around pounds 1 million each for association with the national team.

Sponsors have been clamouring for months to generate maximum value

from the huge amounts of money they have invested in being associated

with France 98. The 12 global sponsors have paid around pounds 12.5

million each and there are also eight official England team sponsors who

have committed around pounds 1 million each for association with the

national team.



However, it is no longer enough to spend a fortune on sponsorship in

isolation. Mike Reynolds, director of the Institute of Sports

Sponsorship, says: ’Buying the rights to be an official sponsor is only

the start.



Companies want and need to exploit this. They spend anything between a

further 100 to 200 per cent of budget on supporting it with advertising

and media relations.’



According to Reynolds, media relations accounts for a growing chunk of

this support spend. Some PR firms say that although UK PR budgets for

France ’98 are not as high as Euro ’96 because the tournament is not

being held in the UK, they are still significant. Spend by large

sponsors on UK media relations averages between pounds 100,000 and

pounds 150,000 for the month’s duration of the tournament. This can

increase significantly if special events are organised, such as Adidas’

projection of images of England squad members Graeme Le Saux, Paul Ince

and David Beckham onto the White Cliffs of Dover last weekend to

generate media coverage.



In return for their investment sponsors expect a meticulous PR

effort.



Coca-Cola, an official tournament sponsor and sponsor of the England

team, has been working with Cohn and Wolfe on a detailed media strategy.

Activity began two months before the tournament to get the brand

associated with issues connected to France 98 before the market became

too crowded.



Cohn and Wolfe has a 13-strong World Cup team working across three

sponsors - Canon, Coca-Cola and Braun.



Sarah Gower, PR manager at official sponsor Adidas UK, says: ’This works

on different levels. We’ve used ad exploitation, generating media

coverage on the back of the David Beckham ad. We’ve also attempted to

gain coverage through news features.’



Five weeks ago Adidas turned the Eurostar into a giant version of one of

its football boots.



During the tournament media relations can be more problematic. Agencies,

while developing proactive media strategies are also prepared to react

swiftly to events on and off the pitch as they happen.



Major sponsors such as Coca-Cola and Adidas are working with agencies on

developing media relations ideas to find a link with every event from

England winning a game to a player endorsing a product becoming injured.

Cohn and Wolfe managing director Martin Thomas says: ’We’ve even had to

develop ideas for the unlikely event of Scotland winning the

tournament.’



Adidas, whose in-house team of three is working closely with agency Hill

and Knowlton, has already made use of its prepeared statements. Paul

Gascoigne is sponsored by Adidas and the firm had to react quickly when

he was dropped from the team. Gower says: ’We’re also ready to react to

something like Beckham getting injured or if he scores an amazing

goal.’



The official sponsors share the benefit of a team at football’s

governing body, FIFA, dedicated to combing the press for any companies

trying to hi-jack attention by passing themselves off as official

sponsors.



FIFA has a communications team of between 60 and 70 to oversee sponsors

and other issues. It has a main communications centre in Paris, plus

media relations teams at each of the ten grounds. Its teams were on the

ground well in advance of the tournament and it has hired dozens of

extra freelance media relations officers to help its in-house

effort.



FIFA has a detailed media strategy in place and demands that each team

provides representatives for the world’s press for its daily media

event.



Such events involve close liaison with member associations, such as the

English Football Association, which has its own communications team of

four at the tournament, led by director of public affairs David

Davies.



Steve Double, the FA’s media relations manager, says: ’Our aim is to

make things as smooth as possible for the England team and players. We

also handle events off the pitch with supporters.’



The FA retains firm control, some sports journalists argue too firm, of

the England team’s communications with the press. During the tournament

it will allow press access to a member of the coaching staff plus two or

three pre-selected players who will also give interviews.



This tightly-orchestrated strategy enables the FA to channel messages

and to react in an organised manner to events. The FAwill also work

closely with the French police, British transport police and the Home

Office on issues connected to fans travelling to the tournament.



As millions of fans settle back to enjoy the football, there will be

hundreds of UK PR specialists working furiously behind-the-scenes, all

with their own reasons for willing England and Scotland to progress

beyond the first stage.



OFFICIAL SPONSORS



There are 12 global world cup sponsors and nine sponsors of the England

team, and at least seven UK agencies working with the England

sponsors.



Each sponsor will spend an average of pounds 100,000-pounds 150,000 on

UK media relations for France 98 with extra for projects. This means

that in the UK the tournament sponsors and the England team sponsors are

spending roughly pounds 2 million on media relations.



The 12 global sponsors of the World Cup are Adidas, Anheuser Busch,

Canon, Coca Cola, Fuji film, General Motors, Gillette, JVC, Mars,

Mastercard, McDonald’s and Philips.



England is sponsored by main sponsor Green Flag plus eight other

companies or brands - Ariel, BP, Canon, Carlsberg, Coca Cola, One 2 One,

Snickers, and Umbro.



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