Sponsorship Brand Recall at the Euro 2004 Soccer Tournament

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper examines the determinants of probability for sponsor brand recall at the Euro 2004 soccer tournament in Portugal. Using a sample of 1,000 people, a survey was administered in Portugal immediately after the tournament to ascertain the significant characteristics that influenced the aimed probability (e.g., age, income, education, perceptions of the event, perceptions of sponsors). Based on 676 usable responses, a random-parameter logit model (mixed logit) was used to deal with unobserved heterogeneity, together with a standard logit model which was also used to analyze the responses. The paper concludes by considering some issues for sponsorship managers.

Introduction

The main purpose of this paper is to offer a distinctive approach to assess the relationship between sponsorship and brand recall at a major sporting event: the Euro 2004 soccer tournament. In 2004, the UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) Soccer Championship Finals were staged in Portugal, and sponsored by various multinational and Portuguese enterprises.

The principal driving force behind the sponsorship of such sporting events is the opportunity to reach a mass audience, and sponsoring companies anticipate that exposing their brand to a mass audience will boost sales (Abratt, Clayton, & Pitt, 1987; Abratt & Gobler,,1989; Nicholls, Roslow, & Dublish, 1999). For sales to be increased by an event sponsorship, the audience being exposed to a sponsor's communications activities must be made aware that the company has indeed sponsored the event (Apostolopolou & Papadimitriou, 2004). Based on this premise, we undertook research in Portugal immediately after the event in order to analyze the awareness of individuals who had been there. The questionnaire permitted the identification of the relationship between the probability of brand sponsorship recall and the socio-economic characteristics of the individuals, as well as perceptions of the sport event and perceptions sponsor brands (Walliser, 2003). There are several other reasons for undertaking this study. Firstly, the corporate sponsorship of sport-teams and facilities, as well as events of all dimensions-has vastly expanded over the past three decades, such that the absence of sponsorship from contemporary sport is now inconceivable (Amis & Slack, 1999). Nevertheless, knowledge of the benefits of event sponsorship is relatively scant, thus meriting research. Secondly, although major brands inevitably seek to be associated with highprofile, global-impact events, relatively few enter into official partnership contracts with an organizing body (Berrett & Slack, 1999). Given the costs involved and the uncertainties about returns on official sponsorship, some enterprises prefer to engage in ambush marketing strategies. This remains the case despite legal measures increasingly taken by organizers to protect their official sponsors' rights, as well as their own.

There are numerous existing studies that exam the effects event sponsorships can have on brands and products. Nicholls et al. (1999) analyzed brand preference and brand recall for the Ryder Golf and Lipton Tennis Tournaments. They concluded that the brand preferences and brand recall was based on the attributes of the products themselves. Brands promoted in the media during the tournament have a high recall, but a low preference rating. Therefore, brand recall is associated with advertising and promotion during the event, while preferences reflect a judgement of how the brand performs vis-à-vis consumers' expectations and past experience. In analysis of soccer spectators and perimeter advertising, Bennett (1999) identified that exposure to the messages increased awareness of the sponsoring brand and 20% of football supporters were likely to buy the sponsoring firm's products. Meanwhile, Grohs, Wagner, and Vsetecka (2004) analyzed the drivers of sport sponsor identification of the Alpine World Skiing Championship 2001, concluding that the highest degree of leverage was obtained by sponsors who communicated their sponsorship by means of national advertisements on TV and in their website. …