The London Eye is now called the Coca-Cola London Eye. Who knew?

The challenges marketers have with sponsorship/placement acquisition and momentum.

It's Thomas - my son's - 7th birthday on Friday, 10th April. With an insatiable desire to learn, he specifically requested a visit to the London Eye. Followed by something to eat and then a trip to Hamleys. Good stuff. The visit to Hamleys will turn into a maul, but let’s go with it.

Looking to book tickets, I went online and found it's still heavily branded as the BA London Eye. Has no-one updated Google? Tickets bought, I had a little dig around. It seems Coca-Cola has taken over the sponsorship cudgels from EDF Energy, who relinquished the rights in January 2015.

Despite the occasional press release here and the spectre of being heavily branded red when I get there, shouldn't Coca-Cola (and EDF before) try a little harder to tell me of their new sponsorship acquisition? A tight marketing budget isn't something Coke have suffered from in recent years, might I suggest some mar comms for those (like me) who don't live in the Big Smoke. Travelling round London frequently I haven't seen any advertising, you've got to ask what are Coca-Cola getting out of it? Especially if I'm still referring to it as BA London Eye (Google is too), isn't there an underlying challenge to change opinions of their sponsorship?

Has it dampened my enthusiasm for going on the Millennium Wheel (pre-BA)? No, but as a marketer, it's a question I asked myself.

It also got me thinking on other sponsorship placements that are still referred to in a previous guise by some of us:

  • Bolton's football stadium was called "the Reebok" for years. Since ending that relationship and Macron (another sportswear firm) has taken on this opportunity. Sadly, many still refer to it as "The Reebok."
  • The Costa Book Awards were originally known as Whitbread Literary Award. And still are. At least Costa is a portfolio brand within Whitbread.
  • Anyone know that Virgin Money now headlines the London Marathon? No neither do all those who still refer to it as Mars London Marathon or Flora London Marathon.
  • Budweiser and the FA Cup. In theory, they should go together hand-in-hand. But when the clientèle who goes to the matches and/or the final, and they forget the Budweiser bit, it loses a bit of edge?

I'm not criticising here, just highlighting a few examples where the education of target audiences and those associated, might need to be heightened. 

Anyone who's undertaken a sponsorship programme has understood and outlined:

  • Relevance of the programme to its products or services
  • Fit of the product/service into your company ethos, culture, process
  • Achieving the predicted uplift in Top of Mind Awareness, sales, opportunities

But what's missing here is time. How long will it for the previous incumbents name be wiped from the audience consciousness? It will be quickly for some of the audience than others. What is intriguing is how buying decisions can be influenced.

I'll think about that as we see West London in the distance in BA - sorry Coca-Cola - London Eye.

I'd love to hear of any other sponsorship examples you can think of that might not be hitting the mark?

Chris is director of Oliver Myles Marketing

T: 01442 345031