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Opinion and Insight
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German Sponsoring Index 2016 Study Released

Serviceplan, 4 weeks ago

Facit Research conduct study on behalf of the Serviceplan Group and Sport1 Media GmbH

German Sponsoring Index 2016 Study Released

What added value do brands achieve through sponsorship, and how is their commitment received by consumers? This is analysed in the "German Sponsoring Index", which the market research institute Facit Research released today on behalf of the Serviceplan Group and marketers Sport1 Media GmbH for the fourth time. This time it focuses on the Bundesliga: examining a total of 119 different sponsors and 36 clubs from the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga in the 2015/16 season. The result: Red Bull, Deutsche Telekom and Veltins are the best sponsors whilst Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and FC Schalke 04 lead the clubs rankings.

The "German Sponsoring Index 2016" is Germany's newest largest independently led sports-sponsorship study. It incorporates responses from a representative sample of over 58,000 respondents and more than 60 million data points. The index has been published since 2012 by the Munich market research institute Facit Research, this time on behalf of the Serviceplan Group, and SPORT1 MEDIA, the marketer of multimedia sports platform SPORT1. The focus of the current study lies purely on sponsorship activities within the Bundesliga. "We have realigned the study and will no longer analyse a dozen industries a year, but a precisely defined area of sponsorship. This focus has led to a significant deepening of the results from which we can derive detailed recommendations for action," says Oliver Frenzel, Director of Facit Research who headed the study. 

This report evaluated every facet of the sponsorship commitments of 119 different Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga sponsors it included kit sponsors, stadium sponsors, suppliers and selected TV presenters or advertisers and provides effectiveness rankings of the brands and the 36 clubs for the season 2015/2016.

The value of the study is that sponsors can use the index to reliably measure the success of their commitment, examine potential partnerships, and increase the efficiency of their communications. Marketers, agents and agencies get an overview of the credibility and the fit of sponsoring partnerships as a basis for their added-value arguments. Clubs and organisations can gain knowledge of their sponsorship assets and utilise them to strengthen their marketing activities. 

"Germany's largest independently conducted sports sponsorship study and us as marketers at SPORT1, with football as our core sport, make a media partnership which fits together perfectly. The breadth and depth of results offer companies and clubs meaningful and reliable support for strategic planning and the optimisation of their sponsorship commitments," says Patrick Fischer, Chairperson of the Management Board, Sport1 Media GmbH. 

Brand, People, Media, Message: Red Bull fits all

Based on a complex two-cycle model, over 60 million data points and 5,000 variables, four major areas were analysed: Brand (How does the brand work?), People (What does the fan think?), Media (What is looked at and where?), and the Message (What stays in your head?). Additionally six other differently weighted sub-dimensions were created:  Image (attitude, knowledge, enthusiasm and loyalty to sponsors and club brands), Cross-Media (advertising recall at various touchpoints), Target Group (cross-media usage behaviour of the target groups in regard to football), Content (reference to the football sponsoring, also in classical communication), Authenticity (how authentic the sponsoring partnership is) and Belonging (awareness and intensity or success of a partnership). The performance of the sponsors and clubs in the six sub-dimensions of this model is the basis of the performance and positioning of each brand in the overall rankings in this year's index.

The result is based on a combination of all of these dimensions: The Top 10 sponsoring brands of the Bundesliga and the 2. Bundesliga in their respective spheres of activity are Red Bull, the German Telekom, Veltins, Mercedes-Benz, Black Crevice, Adidas, Oddset, Volkswagen, Klaiber awnings and Allianz. On places 11 to 20 follow Beats by Dre, Gazprom, bet-at-home.com, Postbank, Sky, Tipico, Visa, Bayer, Coca-Cola and EA Sports. 

"One exciting outcome of the index, which Red Bull impressively illustrates, is that the reputation of a brand has little influence on the effect of its sponsoring or its purchasing activation. Of course, in the long run it does open doors for the brand more easily if it is known and is better recognised; but just because consumers know something, doesn't mean that they would want to buy it, "says Oliver Frenzel. 

In the sub-dimensions scores, German Telekom wins in Cross-Media. Black Crevice came out on top in Target Group, whilst Sky was in front in Content, and Adidas in Belonging.


FC Bayern Munich leads ahead of Borussia Dortmund

In the clubs Bayern Munich leads in the overall rankings, followed by Borussia Dortmund, FC Schalke 04, Borussia Mönchengladbach, Bayer 04 Leverkusen, 1. FC Köln, VfL Wolfsburg, FC St. Pauli, SV Werder Bremen and 1. FC Union Berlin.


Media Usage: TV leads ahead of Internet and Press

Sponsorship in the Bundesliga reaches the masses: 80 percent of Germans are interested in football. Half of them, around 23 million people, are fans, with football an important part of their lives. The most important information source about football is still the television: the Germans watch "Several times a month," whilst the 23 million football fans watch "once a week", with a trend towards "everyday". This is closely followed by the Internet, newspapers and radio, which are used by the general population at least once a month. Again: true football fans use these media more often, as expected. They look on the Internet for their favourite sport several times a week and get information more than once a month via newspapers and radio. 

What the Best do better

- Image (Brands): Top sponsors generally fit exceptionally well with their partners in terms of the image or the dimensions Knowledge, Enthusiasm and Loyalty. An authentic sponsorship strengthens thereby the overall brand image and vice versa. The Belonging of brands has hardly any influence on the evaluation of the images by the consumer.

- Image (Clubs): The ten best teams have a slightly above-average positive brand image - and here the dimensions Knowledge, Enthusiasm and Loyalty dominate. Unlike the brands, established clubs (Belonging) are 30 percent more likely to achieve a more positive brand image. "However, most club brands, apart from a few exceptions, don't have a differentiated, value-based brand image and miss out on much potential. After all,  the image of the clubs influences the effect of a sponsorship by up to 16 percent," said Oliver Frenzel.

- Authenticity: Good sponsors are also often more authentic partners which put their own commercial interests in the background. Sponsors are more credible if they strengthen the region, which also benefits "small" sponsoring partners. Moreover, authentic sponsorship strengthens the overall brand image.

- Belonging: Established Sponsoring-Partners are not automatically better: a direct connection between the factors Awareness, Image and Authenticity is not statistically detectable. Established brands are however often perceived as more commercial and often evaluated worse!

- Content: Successful sponsors use their sponsorship and content for successful brand communication, by creating a thematic connection with football or employing specifically suitable testimonials. The combination of a thematic connection with football and a balanced media strategy offers an enhanced sponsorship effect of up to 26 percent. Besides TV, online communication benefits mainly from a thematic connection to football.

- Cross-Media: The best sponsors are generally much more present in the media. In addition, they integrate their sponsorship activities mostly across their entire communication and are not limited to football kits, stadium or advertising boards.

- Target Group: Along with a high reach, sponsorship offers a great deal of potential, to better address sponsors' own target group - especially in TV and the Internet. 

"Compared to the 2014 index, Online and Mobile have caught up in terms of use. Even so, there is no way around the sports coverage on TV; In football television remains remains the leading medium with the greatest reach. What is essential for the presentation of brands is basically first-class content and networked communication on all relevant platforms," says Patrick Fischer, Managing Director of Sport1 Media GmbH.

Ronald Focken, the Managing Director of the Serviceplan Group, adds: "For the effective activation of sponsorship commitments it is also still essential that sponsor and club match best on many levels, and ideally, stand for similar values. How this is done is demonstrated impressively by this year's ranking winners. But the bottom line is that there are few losers in football sponsorship: all the brands in the study, at their respective levels and their spheres of activity, are doing something right on one of the studied dimensions".

In addition, the sponsorship index differentiated 2016 twelve different fan types, each with individual values profiles, as a basis for differentiating and value-oriented marketing strategy for sponsors and clubs. "We now know an incredible amount about the German football fans: What do they do, how they live and what they do in their spare time; what their priorities in life are, what they buy, how they use the media and what their favourite brands and teams. And it is this depth of data which makes the new Sponsorship Index the ideal tool for brands and organisations," says Oliver Frenzel.