TicketManager | Data Indicates Potential Success for GEICO’s NCAA Partnership

In March, GEICO announced its return to the NCAA Corporate Champion and Partner Program after a one-year absence, becoming the organization’s official home and auto insurance partner just in time for this year’s collegiate basketball championships.

It’s no secret that sports partnerships have long been weapons of choice among property/casualty insurers in the battle for market share in the uber-competitive category, as major players including GEICO, Allstate, State Farm, Nationwide, Progressive, Travelers, USAA and others have amassed significant sponsorship portfolios.

Given that, GEICO’s exclusive status with a premier property such as the NCAA makes sense as a way to stand apart from its competitors. But beyond that objective, recent data shared by E-Poll Market Research points to other potential positive outcomes for the alliance and its impact on both partners’ brands.

Reviewing attitudes toward and attributes ascribed to each brand among 18-to-54-year-old sports viewers, E-Poll found synergies that can reinforce goodwill and brand strengths, as well as divergent areas where each party could help uplift how consumers view the other.

On the alignment side, both GEICO and the NCAA score higher than their sector averages (insurance and sports league, respectively) on at least nine of E-Poll’s KPIs, including awareness, appeal, brand ad recall, brand consideration and “would try brand’s new products/services.”

Both brands also outperform their competition on the attributes “trustworthy,” “relevant to me” and “entertaining.”

In E-Poll’s analysis, “The three key advantages (of the partnership) are the strong levels of consumer trust in each brand, strong brand consideration, and a solid interest in trying new products or services from each brand.”

Perhaps more importantly, the partners have the potential to borrow attributes their own brand may be lacking. While GEICO lags the insurance category averages in the percentage of 18-to-54-year-old sports viewers who consider it “high quality,” “influential,” “inspirational,” and “nostalgic,” the NCAA exceeds the sports league average for each of those descriptors.

Similarly, GEICO exceeds insurance industry averages for being “unique” and “cool,” two areas where other sports leagues surpass the NCAA.

Of course, any image transfer or rub-off effect will not happen automatically, as the experienced marketers at both organizations well know. While the eleventh-hour signing did not allow for much activation for this year’s March Madness, expect to see engaging promotions, content and messaging that makes the partnership relevant to college sports fans in the future.

The partnership got off to a good start in terms of fan recognition, according to MarketCast’s 18th annual Sponsor Breakthrough study conducted for Sports Business Journal.

Twenty-three percent of NCAA men’s basketball fans correctly identified GEICO as an NCAA partner, a one-point increase over the brand’s three-year average during its last stint as a sponsor from 2019-22. There is room for improvement, however, as the report pointed out that “Allstate, which held (home and auto insurance) category rights from 2012 to 2018, peaked at 38 percent in our 2017 study.”