At the conclusion of the 1992 Winter Olympics, advertiser and Olympic Sponsor Coca-Cola broke through the Olympic marketing clutter and posted an impressive audience return.
Performance Research, (Newport, R.I. based sports marketing research firm) tested the awareness, association and image of Olympic sponsors immediately before and immediately following CBS's coverage of the Winter Olympics in Albertville. The study interviewed 700 random adults with 350 interviewed before the opening ceremonies and 350 interviewed after the telecast watching a minimum of four hours of programming.
When asked to recall official sponsors (within hours of the closing ceremonies), almost one-half (47%) of the television audience recalled Coca-Cola. Moreover, Coke's sponsorship awareness more than tripled from pre-event tests where only 12% of those intending to watch the coverage noted their involvement. Also receiving impressive returns were the U.S. Postal Service, Chrysler/Jeep, and Visa, each more than doubling from pre to post testing consumer "top of mind" recall through their Olympic theme advertising.
And which commercial made lasting impressions? Advertisements for Coca-Cola were recounted by 21% of the audience, followed by Reebok (10%), M&M /Mars (8%), McDonald's (7%), Chrysler/Jeep (7%), Visa (6%), U.S. Postal Service and American Express (5%).
Among other categories, viewers were asked to identify the official Olympic car company. Because of their Olympic themed advertisements, Official automobile Chrysler, overcame confusion from Buick's past involvement, and was recalled by 31% of the television viewers (vs. Buicks's 15%). Subaru, long-time U.S. Ski team sponsor, was identified in the same category by nearly one-fifth (18%) of the respondents.
But not all sponsors utilized the Olympic theme in their campaigns. Some, like JCPenny advertised very little during the telecast and did not take full advantage of the costly Olympic rings they paid for so dearly. When asked to identify the official Olympic retailer, both pre and post respondents incorrectly mentioned KMart and Sears more often than USOC sponsor, JCPenny.
So where does corporate image/goodwill fit into all of this? Olympic sponsors were perceived as both "Friendly" and "Global" according to the 7.1 (out of a possible 10) mean ratings they received. Other, less regarded attributes were "Leaders" (6.7), "Innovative" (6.3), and "Healthy" (5.9).
Performance Research interviewed 350 random adult TV viewers immediately before the TV coverage of the Winter Olympics began and 350 TV viewers, who had watched a minimum of four hours of coverage, immediately following the Games? TV coverage. The margin of error is less than one percent.
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