For the first time, sponsorship plays an important role at the Eurovision Song Contest. Several national and international companies connected their names to the contest. Nemiroff, Kyivstar, Samsung and Fleurop are this year's international sponors, while CocaCola, Chernigivske and Interpipe are sponsoring the event on a national level. Sennheiser gets exposure as official supplier of the event.
Esctoday.com asked journalists and fans about their opinion concerning sponsorship, which many consider as a big change in the organisation of the event. Banners, photo walls, letters, books and bags carry the logos of the event sponsors. It was in fact difficult to find someone strongly against it…
Barry van Cornewal and Bart Ensie, who represent a regional Dutch radio station and also consider themselves as fans of the contest, are positive about the exposure of national and international companies. “If it's neccesary and lifts the contest to a higher level, why not”, they said. On the question if sponsorship and the more commercial approach doesn't affect the 'soul' of the Eurovision Song Contest, they agreed that “the disappearance of the orchestra was a much bigger change than sponsorship”.
Smitrit Berman, editor for the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, is also positive about sponsorship. “That's how things go. If sponsorship generates funds to lift the contest to a higher level, it doesn't really bother me”. She also pointed out that sponsor exposure is part of most big events and that people are used to it; “I was reporting in Athens for the 2004 Olympics and you couldn't avoid the sponsors either”.
Bernd Lemmermann of eurovisionlive.com, who attends the Eurovision Song Contest for the 10th time this year, said: “It's great to see that companies like CocaCola are willing to connect their brands to the Eurovision Song Contest, as it can help the event to make it more popular”. However, his colleague Jens Petersen, present for the 9th time, thinks that richer countries “do not neccesarily need sponsorship” to cover the expenses of the organisation.
Vlad Jakovlev, president of the OGAE Russia fanclub, also pointed out that the general acceptation of sponsorship at the Eurovision Song Contest might be related to the fact that other big international events, like the Olympics, already have a long history of sponsorship involvement.
International sponsorship for the Eurovision Song Contest is being co-ordinated by the Swiss company T.E.A.M., which is also taking care of sponsorship deals for the UEFA Champions League and other big sports events.