’Twenty-two players take to the pitch but you tend to notice only
two or three. These are the characters; they may not be the best
players, but they have a personality that outshines the rest,’ says
Matthew Patten, chief executive of M&C Sponsorship.
Euro 2000 kicks off this week in Belgium and Holland, as players from 16
nations battle it out between June 10 and July 2.
Football fans across the world will tune in to the competition to watch
some of the world’s best players - but Patten is not referring to any of
these men. Rather, he is talking about some of the marketing industry’s
heaviest hitters, who will be determined to dazzle the fans with their
ISL Worldwide, the sports sponsorship giant, has drawn up a squad of 22
marketing partners. These include 12 headline sponsors and ten official
suppliers (see box), marking a substantial decrease from the number
previously seen at big football tournaments. At 1998’s World Cup in
France, there were 45 marketing partners tied in on four different
’There is much more emphasis on the sponsors, as opposed to the
suppliers,’ says Glen Kirton, who until recently was managing director
of ISL Football, and is now international director at PR company Craigie
ISL International has been prompted to make this chop due to practical,
rather than emotional, considerations. ’Brands have a wide product
portfolio and it is getting hard to avoid conflicts. The property has
become highly promoted and sponsors don’t want too much clutter around,’
says Patrick Magyar, head of football marketing at ISL Worldwide.
Big brands, big budgets
While host nation Holland is favourite to win the on-pitch competition,
pinpointing the sponsor likely to come out on top is tricky. ’All major
sponsors of an event such as Euro 2000 know what they are doing,’ says
Patten. ’They are all big brands backed by big marketing budgets.’
The individual sponsors also vary widely in terms of their
’It is very hard to say whether one sponsor has done better than
another,’ says Mike Jackson, head of sponsorship research at IPSOS-RSL,
which monitors and evaluates big sporting tournaments from a marketing
perspective. ’All the sponsors have separate target markets and are
’By and large, people are doing this for profile,’ says Patten, ’For
many brands, the acid test from a business point of view is to activate
consumer usage, but I wouldn’t underestimate the importance in the mind
of a chairman of being seen.’
With this in mind, we put on our best pundit’s voice for a round-up of
the marketing rivals’ chances.
Coca-Cola: Like Holland or Germany, it would be a shocker if Coke
weren’t at Euro 2000. Research carried out by BRMB after Euro ’96 showed
that 56% of people could name Coke as a sponsor. The brand has a strong
history and credibility with the fans as a result of its ’Eat football,
sleep football, drink Coca- Cola’ campaign and grass-roots support for
It is likely to be a crowd-pleaser: on top of its sponsorship, it is
running a pan-European promotion offering under-12s the chance to escort
a player from their national side onto the pitch.
McDonald’s: Another stalwart of global football and a strong performer
with the fans, as shown by its 44% per cent recall after Euro ’96 in the
BRMB survey. McDonald’s is good at leveraging exposure in all
The signing of Shearer for World Cup ’98 served it well and the England
striker continues to gain points for the burger giant.
Sony PlayStation: New to the competition, PlayStation’s presence in this
tournament builds on its sponsorship of the UEFA Champions League.
It is likely to adopt an unconventional style that could topple
Its irreverent approach to marketing will mean little above-the-line
support in the UK. ’This is about complementing our brand values and
giving something back to the fans,’ says John Constantinou, European
promotions manager at Sony Computer Entertainment.
Carlsberg: Another brand with a strong footballing heritage. It
sometimes seems to try a bit hard, but is looking good in the build-up.
Carlsberg is a sponsor of both the tournament and the England team. Its
pounds 5m sponsorship of ITV’s coverage of the games in the UK gives it
an even stronger presence at the tournament.
Philips: It was there at Euro ’96, but a poor performance meant no one
really noticed - only 8%, according to a CIA Sensor study. This should
not overshadow recent developments. ’Philips is on its home patch this
time. It will work hard to be visible,’ says Kirton. ’There is no doubt
that Philips has thought about whether it still wants to be in the
competition, but in Holland it can’t afford not to be.’ A marketing push
on the internet and ’Music without Frontiers’, a party for home fans on
the eve of the final, are in the offing. But given its concentration on
the home nations, its impact may be lost on UK fans.
Pringles: Another first-timer, but the financial backing and marketing
foundations of its parent, Procter & Gamble, could guarantee a
favourable result. It is working hard to drive sales through on-pack
promotion and is likely to meet sales targets. The question is whether
it has the creativity and credibility to make much impact.
Hyundai: An unknown quantity, Hyundai is trying to connect its name with
pan-continental sports events primarily via a dealerships promotion in
the form of a Goodwill Ball, on which fans can write messages to their
team. Euro 2000 is seen as a warm-up for its big, home event, the 2002
World Cup in Korea and Japan.
Sportal: A supplier of sports-related internet sites, including the
official Euro 2000 site, Sportal is still relatively unknown in
comparison with other headline brands. If the site proves popular, it
could be a rising star.
Adidas: An official supplier rather than a sponsor, Adidas is providing
the tournament’s official ball - the Terrestra Siverstream. Its
impressive international ad, in which 1000 of the footballs spill out
over an Amsterdam square to be kicked about by players including Shearer
and France’s Zinedine Zidane, shows Adidas has high ambitions.
Nike: Nike is the ’Brazil’ of Euro 2000 - it’s not actually in the
tournament as sponsor or supplier, but is still perceived as unbeatable.
Nike’s European headquarters are 15 miles outside Amsterdam and the
brand has already created a Niketown in Ajax’s old ground. However, ISL
Worldwide has cracked down on ambush marketing by pre-buying posters
around the stadia and pre-booking media spots in competing nations. It’s
unlikely that Nike will respect the offside rule, and will probably
score as a result.
The England team sponsors: Not to be underestimated, the headline
sponsor of the national team is Nationwide and FA Associates include
Burton, Sainsbury’s, Umbro, Coke, Eidos and Carlsberg. These brands have
no access to the official Euro 2000 logo, but they do have the right to
use the ’Three Lions’ crest and call themselves official suppliers to
the England team. Their performance may ultimately depend on the ability
of Kevin Keegan’s team to live up to the nation’s hopes.
Euro 2000 Official Sponsors
Carlsberg, Coca-Cola, Fuji Film, Hyundai, JVC, Mastercard, PSiNet,
McDonald’s, Philips, Sony PlayStation, Pringles and Sportal.
Euro 2000 Official Suppliers
Cereal Partners, Adidas, Addeco, Connexxion, KLM, Unilever, Nashuatec,
Telfort, Total Fina and Cisco.