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Eurovision Song Contest Brand Strategy Marketing

As artists face the semis, let’s gauge which sponsors will wow Eurovision fans


By Jerry Daykin, Fractional CMO

May 7, 2024 | 6 min read

Eurovision correspondent and marketing extraordinaire Jerry Daykin shares the lay of the land as Eurovision week gains momentum ahead of the televised semi-finals.

Eurovision comes to Malmo

This time last year, all eyes were on Liverpool as the city proudly put on the 67th annual Eurovision Song Contest. Hosting the show for a record-setting ninth time, the UK quite rightly had a pep in its own step, having beaten a bad run to finish second the previous year.

For once, even among the media elite here in London, Eurovision felt like a positive force and something everyone could get behind. Indeed they did - having attended close to a dozen contests in person I’ve never seen a whole city embrace its responsibility so fully. There was branding everywhere, countless side events and an enormous public Eurovision Village that was packed every day.

When I first became The Drum’s Semi-Official Eurovision Correspondent a decade ago, it was purely so I could write passive-aggressive articles on how ridiculous it was that the marketing community was ignoring a cultural and entertainment moment bigger than both Beyonce and the Super Bowl largely because it wasn’t ‘cool.’

Fast forward to 2023, and things felt entirely different - Diageo, Google, Booking, TikTok and others all proudly had their names on their contest and their presence felt in the Eurovision village itself. Mondelez International, who, with a bit of arm twisting from my good self, had first dipped its toes in the Eurovision water back in 2016, had the contest’s logo emblazoned on special bars of Cadbury Dairy Milk and Philadelphia in stores.

So what do we know about this year’s contest, set to take place on Saturday, May 11, with semi-final shows on Tuesday and Thursday that week?

From a UK perspective, the BBC is still backing it big, with the semis airing on BBC One again for the second time ever and surrounding it with a range of TV and radio programming. In much of Europe, most notably Iceland where it attracts a high 90% audience share, Eurovision remains the biggest night of TV of the year.

The contest will be hosted in Malmo, Sweden, this year, after Loreen’s triumphant return with the song ‘Tatoo’ last year. Almost too conveniently for some, this brings the contest back to Scandinavian soil exactly 50 years after ABBA triumphed with the song ‘Waterloo’. While it has denied any participation of the band, you can expect at least to see the considerable tribute paid on stage and, who knows, perhaps their ABBAtars appearing on screen, if nothing else.

Eurovision makes a strong point of saying it is non-political and banning any songs with overtly political meaning, but the contest itself emerged directly as a way of getting European nations to better work together in the aftermath of the Second World War.

In the past, it’s been the trigger for a coup in Portugal, upset many a right-wing politician with its LGBTQ+ inclusion, and, of course, in recent years, seen Ukraine triumph while Russia was banned. You’ll find far better accounts of the politics involved elsewhere, but whether the organizers admit it or not, the inclusion of Israel in the contest this year casts a very heavy political shadow over proceedings.

It seems uniquely detrimental for all involved, including the singer selected to represent Israel this year, that the participation is going ahead. There have been calls for artists and broadcasters to boycott, and despite exceptionally high security, it is highly likely to attract protests in many forms. In some corners of the fan community, it is being seen as an irreparable act of vandalism against the contest’s reputation and newly permanent ‘United By Music’ slogan.

I’m sure most advertisers weren’t imagining that as a consideration when they negotiated or extended their partnerships last year, and for the most part, I imagine the casual viewer will enjoy the show very much as normal - and indeed as a reminder that casual audience was 162 million across all live shows in 2023, substantially more than the Super Bowl.

Many of the same advertisers are back this year - headline sponsors Morocanoil, entertainment partners TikTok, and Diageo’s Bailey’s brand chief among them. While Mondelez and Booking haven’t returned, the latter’s travel sector is still well represented, with EasyJet and Royal Caribbean stepping in as official airline and cruise companies. Southern European real estate agents/property search company Idealista also returned as a sponsor for the third year.

Although true fans understand Eurovision to be a six-month-long season starting with the earliest announcements and song selections at the end of the previous year, for most people, it’s just one or two nights of good TV. That’s always been one of the challenges of sponsoring the event, and why we’ll also have to wait right until the last minute to see how brands are truly bringing their sponsorship to life this year. Stay tuned for what I discover online and on the ground in Sweden.

Jerry Daykin is The Drum’s semi-official Eurovision reporter. Having led a number of regional & global client-side media teams, he is currently an independent brand media consultant and fractional chief strategy officer at Adfidence.

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