ANALYSIS: Euro 2000 sponsors set for kick off - As Europe’s best football teams prepare for the first whistle of Euro 2000, Harriet Marsh asks how well the tournament’s 22 sponsors and suppliers will be able to win over the fans

’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.

’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

branding skills.

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

evaluated differently.’

’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

the game.

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.

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