LONDON: As the Rugby World Cup reaches its climax this weekend, sponsors are assessing the value of their investment, but a new survey suggests they have made little impact on consumers in the host nation.

Instantly, a provider of audience and insights tools, polled 2,029 people in the UK to explore brand perceptions around the event and found that 83% claimed that none of the sponsors had changed their perceptions during the tournament – meaning they would not consider buying the product.

Further, 82% said they had not purchased products from any of the sponsoring brands which they would not usually have bought – indicating a lack of engagement from the masses of fans watching the tournament.

Ben Leet, UK MD of Instantly, observed that an event such as the Rugby World Cup was watched by millions and was a great opportunity for brands to reach their existing – and new – target audiences.

"However, our research shows on the whole that brands have failed to do this and possibly wasted time and money without boosting consumer engagement," he said. "This suggests that further research is needed by brands to explore sponsorship options that make an impact."

The study did find that, of the 21 brands that have aligned themselves with the tournament, Heineken, the beer, with 22%, was the one most strongly associated with it; Coca-Cola, the soft drink, meanwhile, was respondents' favourite Rugby World Cup sponsor with 16%.

But half (50%) of them felt that none of the sponsors tied closely with the sporting nature of the event and when asked which brands they would like see sponsoring it in future named sportswear brands Nike and Adidas in joint first place.

Just over one third (35%) of respondents recognised mobile operator O2 as being associated with the England team. But three quarters were unaware that it had replaced the O on each of its stores with a red rose in the run-up to the tournament.

Even if they didn't notice that, Nina Bibby, O2 marketing director, told the recent ad:tech London conference that in-store traffic had been boosted 11% through the use of geo-location to send customers passing stores a message inviting them to come in and pick up a free rose pin.

Data sourced from Instantly; additional content by Warc staff