The Champions League is the pinnacle of European club football and it was the scene of something truly historic this season as Manchester City beat Inter Milan to win the treble of Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup.
The match also represents a massive opportunity for sponsors, who can gain significant visibility and massive levels of fan engagement through their involvement with the competition and the clubs participating in the final.
DataPOWA tracked the key sponsors connected to this season’s game to understand the level of visibility and value they generated. The brands we tracked are:
UEFA partners: PlayStation, FedEx, Turkish Airlines, Heineken, Just Eat, Lays, MasterCard, Oppo and Pepsi. All are Official Global Sponsors of the Champions League, with the exception of Pepsi who sponsored the pre-match show.
Manchester City sponsors: Puma (kit manufacturer), Etihad Airways (front of shirt), Nexen Tire (sleeve), OKX (training kit).
Inter Milan sponsors: Nike (kit manufacturer), Paramount (front of shirt), eBay (sleeve), LeoVegas (training kit).
UEFA partners earn most value
When working out sponsorship value, we look at the expected media value (xMV) each partner drove during the course of the event. This is based on a variety of factors, including estimated audience size, impressions, time on screen, and a benchmark equivalent cost to acquire that screentime. Find out more about xMV at the bottom of this post.
Based on our calculations, it’s clear that UEFA’s partners benefitted much more than those associated with either City or Inter. Turkish Airlines performed best of all, with PlayStation and Heineken not far behind in second and third respectively.
All UEFA’s partnering brands were featured in the advertising boards around the pitch’s perimeter, and Heineken was particularly prominent at the end of the match, when City’s players were seen drinking the product while celebrating.
Kit manufacturers gain most visibility
These numbers are flipped on their head when taking the number of seconds logos were visible for into account. Thanks to their prominence on the upper chest of the clubs’ kits, Puma and Nike generated a high volume of exposures, clocking up 1,216 seconds (Puma) and 966 seconds (Nike) of visibility in total.
So if they were seen on screen so often, shouldn’t they have generated high levels of value too? Not necessarily. While the likes of Turkish Airlines, PlayStation and Heineken were seen in the perimeter ads around the side of the pitch and tended to take up a lot of space, Puma and Nike’s logos are relatively small so overall value is negatively affected.
Front-of-shirt doesn’t always mean front-of-mind
Front-of-shirt sponsorship is often seen as the crown jewel of football partnerships, but as we explored in our piece about recent gambling sponsorship regulations, front-of-shirt doesn’t always deliver the best exposure.
The Champions League final was no different. While Etihad Airways generates plenty of exposure from its wider association with City, it gained an xMV of only $1.4m. The brand was on-screen frequently (the fifth most exposed), but the clarity score was lower than many other brands, an issue likely not helped by the logo’s thin font.
By way of contrast, City’s sleeve sponsor Nexen Tire fared better, as did their Inter counterparts, Paramount Pictures (front-of-shirt) and eBay (sleeve).
Methodology: To arrive at our xMV (expected media value) we use our object detection computer vision AI to identify when, where, and how sponsor logos are exposed within media content. We first identify the unadjusted 100% Media Value, using the estimated audience size, impressions, time on screen, and a benchmark equivalent cost to acquire that screentime. A ‘Prominence Score’ is then applied to this figure, allowing us to take the sponsor logo’s size, clarity and centrality into account and give a clear understanding of the impact the appearance would have made on the viewer. These metrics are combined to give guidance on the estimated value derived through exposure of the logos across the Champions League final.