Brands need to become part of the emotional relationship between viewer and programme for TV sponsorship to have increased impact, new findings from Thinkbox have revealed.
The television marketing body for the main UK commercial broadcasters has carried out the first in-depth study examining the rapidly developing area of TV sponsorship. The TV sponsorship market was worth over £190 million in 2007, a growth of 8.5% from 2006.
According to the study, sponsorship has a greater impact on the emotional/implicit mind than the rational/conscious mind and both makes brands famous and increases purchase intent, favourability and ‘for me-ness’.
‘Fans’ are more likely to have a deeper emotional relationship with a sponsoring brand than less dedicated viewers, but still normal viewers see sponsoring brands as being ‘famous’.
If there is less natural ‘fit’ between sponsorship and programme creative, then longevity of sponsorship becomes key to establishing emotional associations between brand and programme.
The research examined whether brands can adopt the personalities of the programmes they sponsor. The results clearly show that this is the case. Fans of a programme used more similar words to describe the personality traits of the programme and its sponsor than non-viewers.
The study shows that sponsorship makes brands more famous by association. It leads to a perception that ‘only big brands sponsor’ and brand fame in fans’ minds is increased by up to 10% (3% on average).
This finding backs up the landmark IPA study last year ‘Marketing in the era of accountability’, by Les Binet and Peter Field, which found fame to be one of the main drivers of brand profitability and business success, and that TV is the most effective driver of fame.
As well as fame, another of the major brand benefits of sponsoring TV programmes or programme strands is that intent to purchase can be up to 9% higher for ‘fans’ of a programme than for the normal viewer (the average increase across the sample was 4%).
TV sponsorship also has a positive impact on emotional aspects such as fans’ favourability towards a brand, by up to 8.5% (4% on average); and on the sense of the brand being ‘for me’ by up to 12% (average of 5%).
The stronger the relationship the viewer has with the programme, the more effective the sponsorship will be at driving these emotions towards the brand. Fans of programmes are more likely to also like the sponsor than normal viewers.
This relationship between the viewer and the programme – and how brands enter into it – is fundamental to how sponsorships work.
The best results are when bumpers introduce the brand into the relationship that the viewer already has with their programme. Where there is more of an obvious link between a sponsorship bumper’s creative and the programme content, the brand performs better across all the measures of intent to purchase (8% up), ‘for me-ness’ (up 8%), brand favourability (up 7%) and fame (up 5%).
Likewise, when there was a more obvious link between the brand itself and the programme, the brand performs better. If this link is not obvious, creative needs to establish it or it needs time to create association.
Sponsorship bumpers are not viewed as strong brand fact communicators; only 10% of respondents believe that sponsorship bumpers have informed them about a brand or been thought-provoking, suggesting the effects are much more associational, which will often be missed by conventional brand tracking research.
Because the entry of the brand into the viewer/programme relationship is central to the success of a sponsorship, this means that longer-terms sponsorships perform better as the brand has longer to nurture and develop that relationship.
Sponsorships do work well in the short-term, but longevity reaps greater rewards with increases in intent to purchase, ‘for me-ness’, favourability and fame.
Thinkbox’s Research and Strategy Director, David Brennan, said, “We can now provide advertisers with a detailed understanding of exactly how and why TV sponsorship works and give a practical framework to enable it to be used more effectively.
“Sponsorship has seen massive revenue growth in recent years. We knew there was a link between sponsorship, future purchase intention and the bottom line, but no one had pieced it together to explain how it actually works.
He added, “We’re delighted that this study provides conclusive proof of the way that the relationship between brand, programme and viewers functions.”
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