Sponsorship Pays Off: But Only if Done Properly

From Cyber-Journal of Sport Marketing SPONSORSHIP PAYS OFF: BUT ONLY IF IT IS DONE PROPERLY Companies sponsoring major sports events can expect major benefits in corporate image and sales according to Griffith University researcher Dr. Nigel...

From Cyber-Journal of Sport Marketing

SPONSORSHIP PAYS OFF: BUT ONLY IF IT IS DONE PROPERLY

Companies sponsoring major sports events can expect major benefits in corporate image and sales according to Griffith University researcher Dr. Nigel Pope. In studies of consumer awareness of sponsors at the Nagano Winter Olympics and the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix, Dr. Pope found increases in intention to purchase a sponsor's products and in the image of the sponsor.

There was a difference in responses between the two events and the different sponsors.

"It appears that the type of event itself and the way the sponsor communicates the message are important factors in how effective the sponsorship will be," Dr. Pope said.

At Nagano the major benefit in terms of corporate image was a belief that the sponsor was involved in the community. At the Australian Formula One Grand Prix corporate image was affected in terms of belief that the sponsor was responsive to the consumer, well managed and a good company to work for.

When respondents were asked to state their intention to purchase a sponsor's products, the effect on consumers only applied to fans of the Olympics, but at the Grand Prix the effect was on all consumers who were aware of the sponsorship regardless of whether or not they were fans.

The news is not all good, however. "Sponsors who fail to communicate the nature of their sponsorship can actually expect to find a negative effect on sales and image, counter to the general trend," Dr. Pope said.

Not all sponsors were successful at either event, and that seems very much to depend on how the sponsorship message is communicated. Some companies do not emphasize their involvement in the event as a benefit to consumers and they appear to be the ones least likely to benefit from sponsoring an event. Some can even suffer a decline in image through awareness of sponsorship.

"All of this demonstrates how careful sponsors need to be in selecting and communicating their sponsorship opportunities," was Dr. Pope's final verdict.

Dr. Pope's sample for the Nagano research was drawn from the Internet, which produced responses from 152 United States residents, 28 Canadians, 4 Austrians and 20 Australians. The use of an Internet sample gave access to a well educated, high income group.

Research for the Formula One sample drew subjects from an Australian, east coast city whose only exposure to the event was through television. "In each case, the advantage of such a sample is that it examines the primary means of sponsorship communication: television," Dr. Pope says.

The results of Dr. Pope's research can be found at the Cyber-Journal of Sport Marketing (http://www.cad.gu.edu.au/cjsm/ )

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