Veho, the Southampton-based electronics manufacturer, has been named as the best brand for active engagement with fans in the Premier League by PR and branding agency Aberfield Communications.
Steven Lewis, chairman and founder of Veho, is a Saints fan himself who actively promotes both the brand and the club on his Twitter account while the company organises competitions for the chance to watch a match from a corporate box and organised charity matches at St. Mary's stadium - all examples of its active, strong and consistent engagement with fans according to Aberfield who gave it a 9/10 rating.
However around £200m a year is invested by companies in Premier League shirt sponsorships however Aberfield says almost 30 per cent demonstrate "little or no audience engagement".
The worst offender is controversial Newcastle sponsor Wonga, given a 2/10 rating in the report which states: "Is any shirt sponsor disliked by a club's fans more than Wonga? The backlash towards the payday lender has extended to Toon fans launching their own club shirt without the Wonga logo, and openly celebrating on social media the announcement of big losses by the lender."
The report states: "It's not surprising that the most active and engaged shirt sponsors - particularly in the Premier League - are those that have been involved with their clubs for a considerable length of time. They have built strong relationships not only with their clubs' fans but also with football fans in general, both in the UK and across the world."
Companies are attracted to sponsorship deals with Premier League clubs due to the huge "brand awareness" offered by a competition broadcast to 200 territories around the world and watched by roughly 650m people.
However such is the saturation of brands vying for visibility in football, Aberfield argues that active engagement is the best way to achieving loyalty and advocacy from customers.
Aberfield writes: "In football, as with any sport, for the sponsorship to work effectively consumers need to know more than the brand's name. They need to understand how and why the brand fits into their lives. That applies whether it's a local, national or global brand."