Client: The Vaseline Brand, a division of Elida Faberge
PR Team: CSS Promotions
Campaign: Sponsorship of the British University Sports Association
Timing: January - July 1996
Budget: Around pounds 120,000
Vaseline petroleum jelly is perceived as being a non-scientific and non
technological product appealing to an ageing user group.
In an attempt to enhance its image among a younger audience Vaseline has
been backing sporting events such as the London Marathon. In January
1996, it added support for the British University Sports Association
(BUSA), which has responsibility for organising 43 sports events at
universities throughout the UK.
To promote the Vaseline brand to active young consumers and to flag up
the broad range of Vaseline Brand skincare products now available.
The sponsorship deal has enabled Vaseline to establish links with the
Daily Telegraph (the official newspaper of BUSA ) Live TV! (which
currently covers student sports) and Sky TV (which is negotiating for
student sports coverage).
The Vaseline brand name appears alongside the Daily Telegraph’s rolling
programme of reports on many of the 43 major sports BUSA supports.
Mentions of the brand are also made in Live TV!’s coverage of student
sports and the Sky TV programme Grass Roots which has covered the
progress of the Loughborough women’s rugby team.
Vaseline’s support of BUSA also ensures that its promotional material
will be seen by the 200,000 students who actively take part in games and
sports, with sponsored team shirts, merchandise and product sampling
being available to many who play regularly.
Athletic Union reps have been motivated to promote the sponsorship by
running their own promotional campaigns within their universities. York
University, for example, renamed one of its buildings the Vaseline
Building, and gained national and regional press and radio coverage in
A subsequent Vaseline/ BUSA Olympic Challenge offers a trip for two to
Atlanta for this summer’s Olympic Games to one of the students who can
name four products out of the Vaseline product range.
BUSA sports receive coverage in the Daily Telegraph on Thursday and
Friday of every week with Vaseline’s logo appearing alongside copy
usually written by Charlie Randall, the student sports writer. However,
BUSA and Vaseline have had less success with coverage on Live TV! as the
cable channel had wanted to cover student rugby, but these plans were
scuppered by poor winter weather. It was only able to cover the finals
at Twickenham, home of the Rugby Football Union and the England team,
despite having signed a deal in February.
BUSA activities also receive mentions in the Independent and the Times,
although Vaseline did not receive the sort of branding the Telegraph
An accurately targeted deal which offers the sponsors the possibility of
reaching up to 800,000 students in 147 universities and colleges in the
However, Vaseline’s attempt to marry media coverage to its marketing
campaign has not been an overwhelming success outside of its
arrangements with the Telegraph and Live TV! Its campus activities have
been more effective, tapping into an increasingly commercial and
sophisticated student structure. It remains to be seen, however, whether
student sports will become as hot a prospect for sponsors in the UK as
it is in the US.