How Sports Sponsorship Benefits Brands: The Barclays Premier League [report]

Premier League clubs are renowned for revenue. Seven are among the top 20 richest in the world and, with this wealth, media interest follows. Each season presents new sponsorship opportunities, with brands eager to tap into the prestige of the game.

The potential benefits for sponsors are vast:

  • 4.7 billion viewers (cumulative TV audience)
  • 212 territories of coverage around the world
  • In-stadium, TV, print and online visibility

“Social media activity and conversation is now increasingly becoming a huge part of agencies’ and sponsors’ evaluation of campaigns,” says Adam Wright from Brand Rapport, a leading sport & entertainment agency.

“This is mainly due to the fact that a brand’s prestige and image is easily built or ruined in an instant with the speed at which ideas and impressions can be developed online,” says Wright.

“More and more we are seeing social media being included as a significant mechanism for analysis within sponsorship campaigns.”

With less than a month left in the season, the Brandwatch Insights team have been analysing online chat surrounding the Premier League and title sponsors Barclays.

The full study demonstrates how social media analysis can be a key tool for both event organisers and their sponsors.

You can read the full Premier League Sponsorship report (for free) here.

Below are a selection of some of our findings.

Barclays and the league

The study found that around one in four online conversations about the league also mentioned Barclays.

Worryingly, this figure was lower than for the same period during the previous season; Barclays’ association with the Premier League fell year on year, according to online buzz.


International impact

We took a look at how sponsorship affected conversation on an international level and found that (of the Middle Eastern markets monitored) The UAE and Saudi Arabia contributed most to online buzz. However, this picture changed once population differences were taken into account.

In the chart below, Barclays mentions have been normalised to account for the populations of each market.


This shows that, though representing a smaller market, audiences in Kuwait were the most likely to mention Barclays within the context of the Premier League.However, conversation extended beyond the UK.

The Premier League received international coverage, and with it the Barclays brand name.

According to Matt Appleby, Sponsorship Director at Barclays, the Premier League’s global fan base plays an important role for brand awareness. This is especially the case in Africa and the Middle East where the company has plans for future growth.

Consumer attitudes to sponsorship

As well as measuring sponsorship efficacy, analysis can help brands plan ahead and be responsive to consumer attitudes.

When sponsors fail to gauge and react to fan voice the results can be detrimental. This was the case for Sports Direct, which signed a sponsorship deal with St James’ Park in 2011. The retailer changed the name of the stadium to the ‘Sports Direct Arena’, despite widespread negativity from Newcastle fans.

At best, consumers were resistant to the rebranding. At worst, they resorted to acts of vandalism in protest. Example mentions are shown below:

The lesson is one of caution: sponsorship planning demands a thorough understanding of the audience. With the help of monitoring tools, brands can adapt to changing attitudes and avoid alienating potential consumers.

You can read more about these findings, and more insight, in the full report, which can be downloaded for free here.