England fans

No-one can have possibly missed the fact that for the last few weeks the 2015 Rugby World Cup has been storming the UK as the 20 best national rugby union teams in the world compete for the coveted trophy.

The stats alone that the event has produced are staggering, with total match attendances at well over two million and the TV audiences even higher than that.

And, although the tournament has seen none of the home nations progress beyond the quarter-finals stage, the whole event can only be considered as a truly blue chip opportunity for the sponsors. After all, in exchange for helping to support the event financially, all of them have gained massive exposure on a global scale – as well as being able to use their links with the event for their own marketing ends.

In many cases their contribution will also be helping to develop the next generation of rugby stars to emerge, as a number of sponsors use their links with the sport to help get communities involved in playing the game for themselves.

There are many other specific benefits for an organisation that sponsors a major sporting event, whether it’s the Rugby World Cup, football’s Champions League or even tournaments on the professional tennis circuit. One company that has had a great deal of experience in the field of sponsorship is Vodafone. While they are not involved in the Rugby World Cup this year, many of the sponsors who are will be enjoying many of the same benefits that the mobile phone company has profited from in the past. These include increased brand awareness, positive PR and also the chance to tie in sales promotion activity exploiting the links with a particular sport or event.

So which companies are officially sponsoring the World Cup? Well amongst the biggest names that are involved are Coca-Cola, Heineken, Toshiba, DHL and Land Rover.

It seems likely that it is the companies that provide the most readily ‘consumable’ products that will see the greatest short term benefit. For example rugby fans are more likely to enjoy a drink of Heineken or Coke while they’re enjoying a match than they are to rush out with a package for DHL or invest in a new Land Rover.

It’s also worth noting that after the 2003 World Cup, which was so dramatically won in the very last minute by England, Guinness – one of the main sponsors – enjoyed a very unexpected benefit. Not only did Diageo, the company that owns the brand, see its share price rise dramatically, the value of sterling also rose by an incredible 700 points against the US dollar. With this kind of performance it’s surely a good idea for Forex investors to see what other major sporting events could soon be affecting indices.

Although the increase in share price is a measurable yardstick of success for a sponsor, others are certainly harder to quantify. Nevertheless, there is enough evidence available to suggest that sponsorship generates a sound return on investment – and that’s why there will never be any shortage of companies who want to get involved in major global sports events.

But as to who will be the biggest winners of the Rugby World Cup, not including the team that carries off the trophy, then your guess will be as good as anyone’s.