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Car-makers playing the sponsorship game

Flooding the ball: Hyundai announced in late 2013 that it would extend its 13-year sponsorship of the Carlton Football Club for another four years. The tie-in sees the Hyundai logo adorn guernseys and the field.

Research shows that while some car-based AFL sponsors do well, others struggle

30 Apr 2014

MELBOURNE fans are the most likely AFL supporters to buy a new car, while those who barrack for Essendon are the least likely, the latest Roy Morgan research into footy fans’ buying intentions shows.

While the news is good for Melbourne sponsor and listed new-car retailer Automotive Holdings Group, the less inspired Essendon supporters might be construed as not so good for that team’s sponsor, Korean car brand Kia.

“With Toyota as its premier partner, and the majority of its teams being sponsored by car brands, the AFL could almost be called the Automotive Football League,” the Roy Morgan study, titled Cars and AFL: a match made in sponsorship heaven?, says.

“But are footy fans any likelier than the average Australian to be in the market for a new car? Are the AFL’s numerous automotive sponsors getting good ROI (return on investment).”

According to the research, at the start of this year an estimated 2.35 million people were planning to buy a new car in the next four years, with more than 1.05 million following an AFL team.

“That represents a hefty swathe of the population (aged) 14-plus (13.9 percent) being exposed to automotive sponsors in one way or another: via signage at matches and seen on TV broadcasts, on team websites and players’ jerseys, and so on,” it said.

Roy Morgan said Melbourne supporters were 76 percent more likely to buy a new car than the general population.

However, while the smaller number of Melbourne supporters showed a high proportion of members with strong signs of buying, the Roy Morgan paper singles out Volkswagen – the sponsor for the Sydney Swans – as an example of a brand that was making the system work in its favour.

“In good news for Sydney Swans sponsor Volkswagen, 188,000 (or 16.1 percent) of the team’s supporters are planning to buy a new car in the next four years,” it said.

“With well over one million Australians counting themselves as Sydney supporters, the team has the largest fan-base in the country, so it makes sense that they’d have the most new car intenders in terms of sheer numbers.”

Other car-makers to do well from their AFL sponsorship were Richmond (sponsored by Jeep and 40 percent more likely to buy), Geelong (Ford, 26 percent) and Brisbane (Hyundai, 38 percent).

Car brands performing below the national average were Collingwood (sponsored by Holden, which took naming rights over from Lexus in a multimillion-dollar deal struck last year, and only 12.1 percent), Gold Coast Suns (Fiat, 11.9 percent), Port Adelaide (Renault, 10.8 percent) and the buyer intent wooden spooner, Essendon (Kia, 9.1 percent).

“Sponsorship of sporting teams is one of the many ways brands look to either raise or maintain awareness and attempt to engage potential or current consumers,” Roy Morgan Research automotive group account director Jordan Pakes said.

“Auto brands pay big money for AFL sponsorship, and not surprisingly they are after maximum ROI for their investment.

“Some teams have a higher proportion of new car intenders among their supporter base than others so provided there is a sensible fit between the brand and supporters this should be a good thing from a new sales perspective,” he said.

“For brands looking to sponsor a club, understanding what kind of people make up the different supporter bases is crucial.

Two high-profile teams without an auto brand sponsor are Hawthorn and Fremantle. When looking at the (consumer) profile of both teams’ supporter bases, progressive thinkers feature prominently on both lists, accounting for close to 10 percent of Fremantle’s total supporters.

“Progressive thinkers are almost 20 percent more likely than the average Australian to be in the market for a new car over the next four years,” Mr Pakes said.

“In terms of which brands they’re after (and which brands don’t currently sponsor a team), Subaru and BMW would be a potentially strong fit.”

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