New research from PR firm Edelman and Sports Marketing Surveys suggests that sponsorship of sports teams and events could be a waste of cash if not approached correctly.

According to the survey of 1,750 British sports fans, 52% do not differentiate between a sponsor and a firm that has taken the cheaper route of putting an ad on a hoarding at a game. As such, they have little problem with ‘ambush’ or ‘guerrilla’ marketing, with only 9% feeling such tactics should be banned (as recently happened in South Africa – WAMN: 19-Feb-03)

Fans can also become confused as to who the correct sponsor is – some 52% still think cricket’s one-day county competition is backed by NatWest even though the bank was replaced as sponsor by Cheltenham & Gloucester two years ago.

The survey found that the way to connect with fans is to get more involved with the sport than simply paying a fee. Around 64% of respondents feel sponsors should do more to help the sport, its players and its fans, for example by aiding youth development or helping to reduce ticket prices.

“The real way to get value out of a sponsorship is to earn the respect of the fans involved in the game,” declared Edelman’s director of sports marketing Mark Cooper.

“You have to be seen to be making a real contribution to their enjoyment of the sport before you can really expect them to start altering their perceptions to whatever product or service that you are hoping to sell to them.”

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff