Advanced Television

Study: TV sponsorship delivers for brands

October 26, 2017

UK commercial Public Service Broadcaster Channel 4 has revealed results of what it says is the most comprehensive study into the effectiveness of TV sponsorship ever conducted, with findings suggesting it delivers value across all brand metrics and drives positive viewer perceptions.

At a time when the industry is faced with increasing concerns about brand safety, accountability and transparency on some media platforms, new research has found that TV sponsorship is the perfect environment for brands to align themselves with the positive attributes of the shows that audiences actively seek out.

To gain a holistic overview of TV sponsorship, Channel 4 commissioned independent research agency Consumer Insight to aggregate 107 individual Channel 4 sponsorship studies across its flagship programme brands and strands, including 257 waves of research that involved speaking to over 80,000 viewers over the past five years. Extensive analysis of this, combined with research from Differentology discovered the following:

  • Sponsorship is Trusted: 89 per cent saw brands that sponsor TV as more trustworthy than other forms of advertising
  • Sponsorship particularly appeals to young audiences: sponsorship had the highest cut through with two thirds of the notoriously difficult to engage 16-34s
  • Sponsorship is perceived as an intrinsic part of the viewing experience: 79 per cent accepted and expected sponsorship as part of the TV experience and 80 per cent of viewers stated that sponsorship credits act as the cue to their programme viewing
  • Sponsorship confers a premium on the sponsoring brands: 76 per cent of viewers thought that TV sponsorship is a more expensive form of advertising and in turn 91 per cent perceived sponsoring brands to be more premium
  • Sponsorship is seen as the future of advertising: 68 per cent wanted to see more of sponsorship as a form of advertising. This rose to 80 per cent if the viewer was exposed to a product category they were actively in the market for
  • Sponsorship is seen as progressive: 91 per cent believed sponsorship is the future of advertising
  • Sponsorship sells: Amongst those who recalled the sponsorships 54 per cent stated that they were more likely to buy a sponsor’s product

“As an industry we haven’t talked about sponsorship for a while and it’s clear that recent generations of agency planners and buyers have not been exposed to its true potency,” commented Jonathan Lewis, Head of Digital and Partnership Innovation, Channel 4. “Although we’ve always known what sponsorship delivers for brands we lacked the proof. As the biggest survey of its kind this new research provides that proof. Some of the findings have left us pleasantly surprised, especially the positive perceptions around audience acceptance and relevancy amongst young audiences. At a time when brand safety and the need for accountability are paramount to advertisers we are delighted to see that TV sponsorship provides a reliable, transparent and effective platform for a host of brand and marketing communications challenges.”

Case study results

A selection of brand partnerships results from this extensive study included Domino’s sponsorship of Hollyoaks, Lexus’s sponsorship of the Drama on 4 strand and Wickes’ sponsorship of Channel 4 ‘s biggest programming strand Homes on 4:

Hollyoaks has offered us a route to our audience at a key time of day and has delivered significant increases in purchase intent and brand perceptions,” advised Rebecca Rose, Head of Marketing, Domino’s. “The sponsorship’s contribution to sales was rapid, but more importantly that’s been sustained over a three-year period. We’ve just renewed for our fourth year, testament to the fact that we’ve seen ROI increase by 35 per cent from years one to three as Hollyoaks has an evergreen appeal to a broad audience. Our partnership remains fresh as new viewers find the show and by next year we’ll have reached close to 90 per cent of all 16-34s.”

“Lexus is well established as the official sponsor of Drama on 4 having sponsored the programming strand since 2014,” noted Lisa Fielden, Brand Communications Manager. “We have just renewed the partnership for a further two years, testament to its effectiveness and long-term benefits. We have seen significant improvements in the awareness and consideration for Lexus within the Channel 4 audience.”

“Awareness of the Wickes brand among viewers significantly increased just three months into its three year sponsorship of Homes on 4,” reported Matthew Gaunt, Customer & Communications Director, Wickes. “This immediate impact (+14 per cent vs 5 per cent average) was boosted by the brand’s strong alignment with the programming content. Consideration of products featured in the idents grew by over 10 per cent among viewers and greater amongst those looking to undertake relevant DIY jobs by an impressive 11 per cent. Wickes also reported a near 40 per cent increase in measured ROI from the activity versus the same spend in spot TV.

“In addition to this, Wickes also ran sponsorship activation campaigns across the Easter and August Bank Holidays and we can see that this has contributed to a strong double year on year digit growth ahead of similar periods in the calendar.”

New Executional guidelines:

The research has helped Channel 4 to establish a new set of executional guidelines for clients to ensure the absolute efficacy of TV sponsorship:

  • Advertisers can become concerned that a campaign will ‘wear out’ if it is seen too much. This isn’t the case with sponsorship. ‘Wear out’ drives higher awareness and viewers are more likely to purchase the brand/product showcased
  • The stronger the brand’s alignment with the content it sponsors the bigger the boost to its metrics, especially purchase intent
  • Strong, clear audio and visual branding makes a sponsorship 2.5 times more memorable to the viewer
  • Viewers prefer the wording “Proudly sponsored by …” to any other alternative as it complements their expectation that the sponsor is a partner in their viewing experience
  • Four successful ways to align a brand with the content it sponsors include aligning creative execution with content or product with content; aligning with the audience or with the broadcast time


Categories: Advertising, Articles, Broadcast, Consumer Behaviour, Pay TV, Research