In a new study by the media agency Mediaedge:cia, Coca-Cola and Adidas got the most from their sponsorships of the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics when it comes to awareness among Chinese consumers.
The firm says the top 12 official Summer Olympics sponsors invested a combined $866 million in sponsorship activities, including advertising. The agency said only Coca-Cola and Adidas resonated strongly with the 1,000 Chinese consumers the agency surveyed. Forty percent of respondents mentioned the two brands as having been prominent in the games, while other big spenders like McDonald's did not generate "significant" brand awareness.
The agency commissioned Seattle-based Global Market Insight to do online interviews of some 1,000 residents of Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou during one week in April and one week in August.
Coca-Cola, which spent between $75 million and $90 million on its Chinese Olympic sponsorship, boosted awareness of its brand among respondents from 28% in April to 50% during the Games. The agency says Coke got those results by tripling its monthly spend in the six weeks leading up to the opening ceremony.
Mediaedge:cia says Adidas spent $250 million on its complete Olympics sponsorship and advertising but that Adidas and competitor Nike, which did not get official sponsorship status, got the same level of brand awareness--16% and 11%, respectively. But the firm says that by August, Adidas grew Chinese consumer awareness to 38%, while Nike only raised its awareness to 18%. Why? According to the media firm, Adidas's success was a result of on-screen presence through branded clothing and consistent Olympics-related advertising in the six months prior to the Games.
Chinese sportswear retailer Li Ning saw brand awareness among Chinese consumers grow from 8% in April 2008 to 20% during the Games, although the brand had no official Games sponsor status. But the company sponsored the Chinese gymnastics team, and the company's founder, who is a former Olympic athlete, lit the torch at the opening ceremony.
Other brands, says MEC, did not fare as well because they didn't shell out. Lenovo, a top sponsor and torch partner, was the brand that Chinese consumers most associated with the Beijing Olympics, but its brand awareness levels remaining static until the first week of the Games, says the agency.
Jon Wright, director of MEC MediaLab APAC, said it ain't just the cash. "If brands want to maximize the return of their sponsorship, they need consistent, integrated advertising strategies. There are six months from the torch relay to the end of the Games, and our research has shown that the brands that succeed are the ones that continually keep their advertising and sponsorship fresh and engaging for consumers."
A final wave of the research will be conducted in the second week of September.