Euro 2012 – the impact of co-hosting on sponsors
01 May 2012
Less is more is a maxim which is not always applied to sports marketing, but in the case of the upcoming UEFA Euro 2012 championships there are many brand and sponsorship managers out there wishing that they had only to deal with a single host nation.
The championship is being staged across Poland and Ukraine, two nations which have little in common beyond being neighbours. Neither is a strong commercial market and Ukraine in particular presents major difficulties for those who need to work there.
Operating in either country would be challenging but working across both simply multiplies the potential problems. UEFA sponsors looking to activate on the ground are facing issues around travel and hotels as well as local red tape which can make it difficult to get even simple things done.
The break-up of the Soviet Union and subsequent political events in the Balkans led to a dramatic increase in the number of UEFA member nations (there are now 53) and current president Michel Platini made inclusion a cornerstone of his election campaign. He was determined to give every member a more or less equal shot at hosting UEFA competitions but, as many were too small and simply did not have the facilities to stage finals series, co-hosting was the only alternative.
The principle is well established in football and other sports. Euro 2000 was held jointly by Holland and Belgium while the 2008 edition was hosted by Switzerland and Austria. Elsewhere the FIFA World Cup of 2002 was shared by Japan and Korea, two nations with a history of rivalry and bitter enmity – and various editions of the Rugby World Cup have been shared not only by United Kingdom countries but France and Ireland as well.
But each of these joint hosting exercises has been in nations with sophisticated infrastructures, developed commercial regulation and relatively buoyant consumer markets. So far as Euro 2012 is concerned while Poland ticks most of these boxes, its neighbour doesn’t and at a local level sponsors are working in a challenging environment.
None of this should be taken to suggest that Euro 2012 is not a hugely attractive property for sponsors, no matter where it is staged, or that it will suffer financially. Ultimately it is a massive television event with rights holders able to leverage wall to-wall coverage on TV and across all other media in every European market and well beyond.
As a result a number are downscaling host nation activation, including hospitality programmes, and finding different ways of delivering their messages and building relationships through an event which will hold an entire continent in its thrall.
You can expect a rather different approach in 2016 when the Euros are hosted in France, a single market which has everything which this year’s co-hosts appear to lack. But for now there remains a disappointment and sense of frustration among sponsors that they have to achieve more with less.
This is a personal perspective of Patrick Nally, CEO of seminal sports marketing agency West Nally.