In January this year, Sainsbury’s signed an exclusive deal with the
Football Association to tie in with last month’s World Cup. For an
undisclosed fee, the retailer bought a special license to use the
England ’three lions’ logo on own-label packaging, and the right to call
itself the ’Official England Supermarket’.
With other retailers and official England sponsors such as Ariel and
Carlsberg all looking to cash in on the World Cup, Sainsbury’s was keen
to make its own arrangement work the hardest.
To pre-empt the competition and achieve positive media impact to
significantly boost sales in the run-up to and during the World Cup. In
addition by raising awareness of Sainsbury’s as the ’Official England
Supermarket’ the company wanted to promote a more contemporary image for
By rolling out the campaign, Sainsbury’s aimed to ensure a consistent
spread of media coverage beyond the sports pages. So, in February, the
company organised a launch event with a replica football pitch at its
Cromwell Road store in London. Here, Chelsea and England footballer,
Graeme Le Saux had a kick about with a Sainsbury’s staff team, and the
company unveiled its plans for England products and ’half-time meal
This was followed by a concentrated media relations programme, with a
’football supporters kit’ of newsworthy products sent out to
In April, to tie the sponsorship back to its core business, the company
set up a ’Feast of Football’ helpline. On calling, children received
advice from a dietician on what foods to eat for increased stamina when
playing sport. Youngsters were further targeted with a number of
’Football Party’ hampers sent out to TV and radio stations for audience
Finally, to appeal to shoppers who were sick to the back teeth with
football, during the World Cup the supermarket held line dancing lessons
in its Clapham store in London and conducted a regional massage
Sainsbury’s estimates that the campaign generated over 284 pieces of
coverage. These ranged from extensive interest from the national dailies
such as the Sun and the Financial Times to broadcast coverage including
News at Ten, The Big Breakfast and Chris Evans on Virgin Radio, who
said: ’Sainsbury’s - they’re on the ball!’
CARMA International’s analysis of the coverage revealed that 93 per cent
was editorially based and not linked to any promotions and that
Sainsbury’s favourability rating rose significantly during the period.
England branded products such as soccer sausages and World Cup toilet
tissue proved a real winner with journalists.
As the value of the sponsorship has not been disclosed, whether
Sainsbury’s gained financially from its deal with the FA remains
unclear. However, use of the three lions logo did mean that its products
featured strongly in the print press and Rebecca Devison, Sainsbury’s
national PR manager says that sales targets were exceeded.
Some journalists were sceptical of the retailer’s claim to be the
’Official England Supermarket’, but the campaign’s early launch stole a
march over other sponsor’s activities. Devison reports that an
impressive 12 per cent of the budget was spent on evaluation from CARMA
International. ’It was extremely important that our work was measurable
as adding real value to the business’, she says.
Client: J Sainsbury plc
PR Team: In-house
Campaign: To promote Sainsbury’s as the official supermarket for the
England World Cup team.
Timescale: Feb - July 1998
Budget: pounds 25,000