Sports tie-ups should look beyond traditional values

New York: Agencies and clients hoping to use sports as a PR tool must look beyond demographics to determine the best fit in picking which sports and which teams their clients should work with, according to a new study from a group of WPP companies including Hill & Knowlton.

New York: Agencies and clients hoping to use sports as a PR tool must look beyond demographics to determine the best fit in picking which sports and which teams their clients should work with, according to a new study from a group of WPP companies including Hill & Knowlton.

The study, called SportZ, polled consumers worldwide about their feelings for various types of sports and teams. The survey looked at the values held by fans, explained Peter Walshe, global account director at Millward Brown, a WPP-owned market-research company involved in the study.

Fans of track and field, for example, tend to have a spiritual quality and are self-effacing, while fans of NASCAR racing hold middle-American values and are generally conservative.

Basketball attracts such a wide swath of the US population that it's difficult to characterize its fan base as much different from the US population as a whole, Walshe said. The survey found that 88 million Americans have been to a basketball game - more than the 72 million who say they watch it on TV.

The survey also looked at the strength of individual team brands, measuring their strength as compared to well-known corporate brands.

It found the San Francisco 49ers brand is as strong in consumers' minds as Kellogg's Corn Flakes, Lexus, or FedEx. That points to the 49er brand as one that could expand beyond football and attract loyal customers, Walshe said.

In another example, the study found the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team's brand to be as strong as that of Domino's Pizza.

Internationally, the study found that more Germans follow the famous Tour de France bike race than the French. In Italy, adults who own two or more Swatches are 37% more likely than others with an interest in sports to be interested in volleyball, and 30% less likely

to be interested in cycling.

The study looked at consumers' attitudes about 45 sports and major sporting events such as the Daytona 500 auto race and the Olympics. More than 21,000 fans over the age of 15 were contacted in the US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Britain, Japan, and China.

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