Nutri-Grain has reached top position, equal with Billabong, as the brand most Australians associate with being a sports sponsor, according to results from the Sweeney Sports Report covering the 2008-09 Summer.

Almost one third (30 percent) of Australians recognise the breakfast cereal producer as a sponsor of sport, a result of its long-term association with surf life saving.

Billabong attracts the same level of recall, despite its development into a lifestyle rather than a purely sportswear brand and its heritage being firmly rooted in surfing.

The latest ratings show that since the previous ratings two years ago, Nike has slipped to third place, ahead of Ford and Uncle Toby’s at equal fourth, with the main movers being KFC (73rd to 18th position), a result of its sponsorship in Australia of Twenty20 cricket, and Speedo (17th to 6th position).

Ford is in fourth place with more than a quarter (26 percent) of people still recognising it, a result of its sponsorship of motor racing and cricket.

Telecommunications companies 3/three.com and Telstra/Big Pond have slumped from the top 10. Telstra’s decline is surprising given its sponsorship of the Australian swimming team and the Australian Olympic Committee in an Olympic year.

The report’s assessment of the awareness resulting from associations between specific sponsorship properties and sponsors shows that Emirates is maintaining a clear lead.

More than a fifth of people (28 percent) recognised its connection with the Melbourne Cup, a six percentage point increase since last summer.