DIRECT CHOICE: Carling

Sponsorship has enjoyed a meteoric rise over the past decade. In the UK, the ultimate expression of success has been Carling. Something of a backwater brand, within a couple of years Carling, football and pubs became inextricably linked thanks to its robust sponsorship of the FA Premiership.

However, a couple of seasons ago, it decided not to renew the deal. But two years on, the football tie is as strong as ever. For evidence, look no further than its cardboard prawn sandwich mailer. Football fans will recall Manchester United star Roy Keane's reference to the 'prawn sandwich brigade' (that's new fans and the corporate hospitality lot to you and me), which implied an absence of true supporters.

Sure enough, open this self-mailer and there's a competition to win tickets for a top game. "It's about time the real fans got the best seats," says the copy. The mailsort logo is a football, the branding shouts "Premiership" and the Carling-football link remains undiminished. It's as though the deal were still on.

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