The marketers' guide to Eurovision: Making your mind up about sponsorship

The 60th annual Eurovision Song Contest is nearly upon us and the show is much bigger than you might think – as Europe’s largest TV show it attracted nearly twice the viewership of the Super Bowl and over five million Tweets last year.

Can brands get involved with it?

Contrary to the UK/BBC experience the contest is very commercially savvy and active – remember, some of those curious presenter monologues we sit through are actually ad breaks elsewhere in Europe. The UK is in fact the only country where absolutely no form of official onscreen tagging is available, with 36 of the 40 competing countries allowing brands to at least open and close the show, and potentially bumper ad breaks too.

Tiers of sponsorship allow for a full partnership with branding rights across a range of properties and flexibility to leverage the Eurovision brand on your own properties and products, or of course advertisers can simply buy space in the commercial breaks where they exist.

It may be too late for 2015, but it's soon time to start planning for 2016. What is the opportunity for marketers?

Sietse Bakker, Eurovision's event supervisor, said that the figures speak for themselves.

Pointing out that the contest has a television reach of nearly 200 million people, Bakker thinks that the event is an "amazing opportunity" for marketers to present brands to a wide audience, or to "cherry-pick" certain markets.

Commenting on Eurovision's image he added that the reluctance from UK marketers to engage because of an "out-dated" British perspective will change: " When you look at the facts on a pan-European level, things look quite different. I am absolutely confident that in the next three to five years we will see a big shift in perception."

Which brands haver leveraged the sponsorship best to date?

"Sponsors keep surprising us with their activation ideas. Some of the more memorable ones were the low fly-over of a Eurovision Song Contest branded Norwegian Airlines Boeing 737 in a fjord.”

Schwarzkopf Hair has been a fairly consistent partner to the contest since 2009, offering ticket prizes and using the logo variously across millions of their products and advertising.

In 2011 they activated a ‘Look of Music’ contest across 30 countries, across a fully integrated media campaign, which built up a collection of user generated content on a dedicated central website.

In 2013 they ran a unique competition to guess which style of haircut would ultimately win the song contest, an activation which they leveraged across packaging, point of sale and a range of online media. Luckily Danish winner Emmelie De Forest did indeed have a lovely haircut.

Brands do use some pretty impressive tactics to cut through around the show itself, and host cities are typically wallpapered with mentions of the contest. Having said that the biggest unexplored value for many brands to tap into is the impact of using the Eurovision logo to drive interest, standout and perhaps even better retail fixture for their products in the build up to the show – that or to actually show off their products.

Bakker says that Eurovision is increasingly becoming a platform for technology companies to showcase for their products and services: "This year, the partnerships with Microsoft and Osram are focused on providing a memorable customer journey from a technological point of view, as well as providing interesting interaction opportunities on-site and at the Eurovision Village at the City Hall square."

What about brands' own social plans?

As with any much talked about event there will certainly be opportunities for brands to try and drive relevance by mentioning events in the contest.

A word of warning here – like any entertainment property which sells its commercial rights there are of course limitations to what non-sponsors can legally say or mention before they end up in risky legal territory. I’m sure we’ll see some imaginative attempts regardless!

Jerry Daykin is the global digital director for Mondelez at Carat/Dentsu Aegis Network

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