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People love their favourite TV shows and brands that sponsor them can share in that love and borrow from it. That is the central finding from research by YouGov and House 51, commissioned by Thinkbox, the marketing body for commercial TV in the UK.
The study – Get with the programmes – reveals the mechanics of TV sponsorship and its ability to build affinity for brands. It provides marketers with the evidence and benchmarks with which they can measure the impact TV sponsorship will have on their business.
It shows how TV sponsorships:
The research also provides guidance on creating the most effective TV sponsorships, in particular the importance of creative congruence and the success of long-term partnerships with their ability to provide long-lasting brand preference even after sponsorships have ended.
House 51 used a blend of mobile self-ethnographies, filmed depth-interviews, and a quantitative survey across eight TV sponsorships, each time interviewing 300 viewers/non-viewers, to understand the mechanics of how TV sponsorship drives brand affinity.
YouGov combined their Brand Index database with their TV programme database (both of which survey the attitudes of 4,000 people every day) to look for evidence of the impact TV sponsorships deliver for brand health and to uncover the key drivers of increased effectiveness.
House 51 key findings
Understanding the mechanics of TV sponsorship
TV sponsorships matchmake viewers with brands
On average, the personality fit between a viewer of a sponsored TV show and the sponsoring brand is 53 per cent higher than the fit between the sponsoring brand and a non-viewer. This is because viewers have strong affinities with their favourite TV shows and sponsoring brands borrow from the show’s personality. This ‘brand rub’ effect encourages viewers to feel that the sponsoring brand is more for them.
TV sponsorships magnify brand stature
Partnering with TV shows takes advantage of ‘costly signalling’ – i.e. TV sponsorship is perceived to be costly and therefore signals success. Viewers of a sponsored TV show are significantly more likely to believe the sponsoring brand is popular than non-viewers (78 per cent vs. 68 per cent).
TV sponsorships work implicitly
TV sponsorship increases automatic positive brand associations. Using an implicit timed response test, House 51 found that viewers were twice as fast as non-viewers to agree they would recommend the sponsoring brand.
YouGov key findings
Evidence for the impact of TV sponsorships on brand health and increased effectiveness
TV sponsorship turbocharges awareness – especially for lesser-known brands
The reach and frequency that comes from sponsoring a TV show raises brand awareness for all brands. For lesser-known brands this is particularly the case, underlining the impact TV sponsorship offers new brands.
For less well-known brands, both their brand and advertising awareness scores were substantially higher for viewers of the TV shows they sponsored. Brand awareness was 17.2 per cent points higher than for non-viewers (it was 1.1 per cent points higher for well-known brands).
Fit is everything
Creatively congruent campaigns are much more effective at shifting brand health metrics for viewers than campaigns where the creative fit is less obvious.
When the sponsorship creative was a good fit with the TV show, key brand health metrics for viewers of the sponsored show were 5 per cent points higher than for non-viewers. When the fit was less obvious they were 2.4 per cent points higher.
YouGov also found that fully integrated partnerships work a lot harder. Campaign integration substantially shifted the brand health metrics for viewers of sponsored shows, with fully integrated sponsorships increasing them by 8.9 per cent points above non-viewers compared with a ‘badging only’ sponsorship approach which delivered a 2.8 per cent point increase.
Where possible, play the long game
YouGov split the campaigns that had been on air for over 3 years from those that had been running for less than one year. The longer running campaigns drove increases in all brand health metrics above the younger campaigns, giving a 5.4 per cent point increase overall compared with a 4 per cent point increase for younger campaigns.
TV sponsorship effects live on
In the six months following the end of a TV sponsorship, whilst ad awareness fell as expected, brand health metrics decayed at a far slower rate.
On average, looking at 16 completed sponsorships one month after they ended, the key brand health measures were unchanged. Six months after the sponsorships had ended they had only reduced by 19 per cent, meaning that 81 per cent of the advantage gained with viewers of the sponsored TV show was still active.
“People judge you by the company you keep, and this is at the heart of TV sponsorship’s power,” advised Matt Hill, Thinkbox’s Research and Planning Director. “Through this research our understanding of how TV sponsorships work is better than ever. We know what they deliver and we know how to get the best out of them. Marketers need to know that their investments make a real difference to their brands – this research enables them to do just that.”
“Crucially, we’ve found very strong evidence that TV sponsorships’ impact is long lasting and that, if advertisers want to see them work at their hardest, they should ensure they’re integrated with the rest of their advertising and making use of the additional promotional tools the broadcasters provide.”