How many people do you know who have already written down the Euro ’96
fixtures in their diaries, in their neatest handwriting, complete with
kick-off times and details of which channel the games are being shown
on? How many have said ‘June’s on hold’ or ‘I’m not sure if I can make
that meeting after work on Tuesday 18 June’? If you don’t know why that
night’s particularly busy for so many clients, media and agency people
alike, then you’re in the wrong game.
Euro ’96 is the perfect excuse for our male-dominated industries to mix
business with pleasure, and then some. Not least of all because, as our
feature on page 34 shows, it is a huge business. In fact, in the UK and
much of western Europe, it is bigger business than the Coca-Cola
sponsored Olympics in July. Coca-Cola recognises this and is investing
far more of this year’s UK promotional budget in Euro ’96 than the
Atlanta games. It is a small victory for the forces opposed to
globalisation. And it’s probably as puzzling to some people in Atlanta
as Alain Jacquet’s decision to leave Eric Cantona out of the French side
is to many in Manchester.
For advertisers and media owners, the tournament represents a major, if
So will we be bombarded with messages from sponsors over the next month
or so? What do you think? With sponsorship packages costing pounds 3.5
million each, it is estimated the 11 official sponsors will have to
spend almost as much again on promotional support to get mileage for
their money. Add in the eight ‘official suppliers’ and we potentially
have one giant, unholy mass of football-related advertising. Already
Coca-Cola looks scarily like Nike, which looks scarily like... And who
would bet against the Vauxhall Vectra’s pounds 2.5 million-ish
sponsorship of the television coverage being money well spent? A classic
Lowe Howard-Spink media coup - but Mike Smallwood will be praying that
England make it through the first round.
For ITV, the tournament is a great opportunity for it to revitalise
itself publicly. June will be this year’s best month, and some
imaginative scheduling - hopefully - will enable it to cash in.
However, in general, and England versus Holland aside, ITV has come off
second-best in the first-round draw. Although some deals are done on the
basis of the game rather than who’s got through, it is not difficult to
imagine that messrs Bowley, Desmond and Wootton will be up there with
Smallwood among England’s more fervent supporters.
Bulgaria may yet light the tournament’s fire, of course, but it would be
a great surprise if one or more of Germany, Italy, Holland or England is
not at Wembley on 30 June. It will be interesting to see how co-
operative ITV and BBC are then. Oh, and for the record, my diary’s very
free - in July.