As the dust from Euro 2016 settles, all eyes are on Rio – but how can retailer sponsors ensure they cash in on Olympic fervour?

How often in football do you hear about teams or athletes that are technically great, but fail to deliver on the big stage? Each year brands and retailers spend millions of pounds to become official sponsors of sporting events like Euro 2016 and the Olympics only to be let down in the final third when it comes to the moment of purchase.

“Even after consistent, quality messaging the best campaign can be lost through a fractured customer journey that does not carry the brand through the process”

Andrew Watts, KHWS

Sponsors seek to build relationships with fans through borrowed passion in and around the tournament games, pushing out consistent messaging across traditional and digital platforms alike to compete for every second of the fan’s attention.

With all this big-ticket brand building going on, we would expect to see a more joined-up approach to activity being used to drive sales. However, our research has found that even after consistent, quality messaging the best campaign can be lost through a fractured customer journey that does not carry the brand through the process.

Missing the point-of-sale penalty shoot-out

Non campaign-related offers and promotions have the potential to dilute prior investment as all the customer sees is the money off, potentially reversing the gains made to brand equity.

Take, for instance, Carlsberg – both a sponsor of the tournament and the England team – which throughout the tournament has relied on the iconic ‘If Carlsberg Did…’ tagline.

“When the consumer goes into their local supermarket and is met by a two-for-one price promotion, all the good intentions of building an extraordinary brand experience is lost”

Andrew Watts, KHWS

The first campaign saw a series of well received stunts ranging from filmed ticket giveaways to signs of local pubs substituted with patriotic alternatives such as The Three Lions.

All this provided an exciting and immersive brand experience that tapped into the anticipation and the shared experience of the tournament which resonated emotionally with football fans.

However, when the consumer goes into their local supermarket and is met by a two-for-one price promotion, all the good intentions of building an extraordinary brand experience is lost and Carlsberg becomes commoditised.

Aldi’s Olympic ambitions

The next big sporting event of the year is, of course, the Rio 2016 Olympics, where hopes are high for Team GB.

One of Team GB’s sponsors is leading global discount supermarket chain Aldi. The supermarket is running a campaign called Homegrown Heroes, aiming to support UK athletes with homegrown, quality British food.

One of the potential drivers for the sponsorship is to continue its transition from low-cost, foreign company into a serious challenger of the big high street supermarket chains.

To continue this momentum, Aldi has chosen a great partner and is using its sponsorship money not just effectively but efficiently across all its marketing channels.

“The average consumer doesn’t distinguish between brand marketing and sales activations and neither should brands”

Andrew Watts, KHWS

From brand marketing to sales promotions, Team GB branding is seen everywhere, from sponsorship-devoted online channels with devoted Aldi Team GB ambassadors, to the design of their truck liveries, to plastic bags and door-to-door promotions.

Whether it’s Euro 2016 or the Rio Olympics, the fact is that the average consumer doesn’t distinguish between brand marketing and sales activations and neither should brands.

This inconsistency in messaging and disjointedness at the point of sale represents a huge lost opportunity.

This is not just a problem that is restricted to the offline process – it’s when a consistent brand experience is not delivered from beginning to end.

Instead these brands should look to ensure their campaigns combine the emotional power of brand marketing with the commercial awareness of sales marketing.

  • Andrew Watts is founding partner at brand commerce agency KHWS