Going into the Sochi Olympics, 22% of U.S. adults incorrectly identified Pepsi as an official sponsor of the event, according to an Olympics-focused survey conducted by YouGov.
Furthermore, among respondents who said they are interested in the games, 27% incorrectly identified Pepsi as a sponsor.
The online survey of 1,188 adults was conducted Jan. 24-27. The data has been weighted to be representative of all U.S. adults (18 and older). Respondents were supplied with a list of brand names, which included real sponsors names, plus the names of some brands that are not sponsors.
Respondents were asked: "Which of the following do you think are official sponsors of the 2014 Olympics?" They were given the option of saying they didn't know, in which case that was the end of their participation (they were not asked to try to identify any specific brands as sponsors). Fully 48% of respondents chose the "I don't know" option — perhaps indicating generally low awareness of Olympics sponsors, or some other factor, going into the games, notes YouGov research manager Anne Gammon.
The other 52% of respondents were asked to select as many brand names as they thought were sponsors.
Other brands that had fairly high percentages of being incorrectly identified as sponsors included Red Bull (17%), Adidas (10%), Starbucks (9%), and Rolex and Philips (each with 5%). Dupont and Unilever were each incorrectly ID’d as sponsors by 3%, and Siemens by 2%.
However, there was good news for some actual official Olympics sponsors.
Even prior to the games, 32% of all respondents, and 39% of those who identified themselves as interested in the games, correctly identified McDonald's as an official sponsor.
Coca-Cola was correctly identified as a sponsor by 29% of all respondents, and 37% of those interested in the games; and Visa was correctly identified as a sponsor by 26% of all respondents, and 33% of those interested in the games.
Others that are official Olympics sponsors were correctly identified as such by smaller percentages (at least in advance of the games): Procter & Gamble by 10%; Samsung by 9%; GE by 8%; Panasonic by 6%; Dow Chemical by 2%; IGM Global Services by 1%; and Atos Origin by 1%.
Nike, which is not an official overall Olympics sponsor but (along with Ralph Lauren) is an official outfitter for Team USA, was identified as a sponsor by 21% of total respondents.
Volkswagen, which is a national partner, rather than an official global sponsor, was identified as a sponsor by 8%.
YouGov may conduct another survey during or after the Olympics to compare the results, says Gammon.
Overall Interest in the Games
YouGov also asked more general questions about the upcoming Olympics, and American adults' personal participation in winter sports.
Some of those results:
*71% (including 78% of women and 64% of men) said that they've never participated in a winter sport, but 51% said they're interested in the Sochi Winter Olympics.
*The most popular winter sports among men who have participated in these are alpine/downhill skiing (11%), ice hockey (10%) and snowboarding (10%).
*Two out of three Americans (67%) plan on watching at least a "little" of the 2014 Winter Olympics, with 20% expecting to watch "a lot" of the competition. Although 49% claim to not be interested in this year’s Winter Olympics, 35% of those who lacked interest were still expecting to watch a little of the event.
*The most highly anticipated events are figure skating (55% hope to watch these events), ski jumping (47%) and speed skating (41%).
*Roughly one out of 10 Americans (11%) say they will not watch this year’s Winter Olympics due to Russian political events and/or policies.