Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

Selection of Leveraging Strategies by National Olympic Sponsors: A Proposed Model

Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

Selection of Leveraging Strategies by National Olympic Sponsors: A Proposed Model

Article excerpt

Executive summary

National Olympic sponsorships enable companies in the host country to gain from consumer interest in, and support of, the Olympic Games. Contracts are of limited duration, so companies cannot afford to learn through trial and error: they need to set clear brand objectives and select the most effective leveraging activities to achieve them. Cornwell et al (2001) suggested that specific leveraging methods might address different dimensions of brand equity, while Tripodi (2001) proposed two ways in which sponsorship might affect consumer attitudes and behaviour, based on advertising models. Using these ideas, and those of Reed & Ewing (2004), who produced a set of seven models of advertising effects, an Optimal Leveraging Activity (OLA) model is proposed. This takes into account the level of involvement (high or low) and dominant type of processing (affective or cognitive) involved in attitude formation towards the sponsoring brand to suggest the most appropriate leveraging methods.

Where involvement is high, leveraging activities aimed at brand image enhancement and differentiation, leading to consumer brand preference, are required before sales increases can be expected. If processing of information is highly cognitive, activities need to help the consumer learn about the brand by providing information and, if possible, trial. Where affective processing is dominant, associations with national athletes and memorable moments, and also community involvement, will tap into this dimension.

For low involvement products, purchase may be habitual, or on impulse. The buying decision may be made at point of sale--mere awareness of a sponsorship can sway consumer choice, and sales-related activities such as Olympic packaging and point of sale promotions will be effective. Discount coupons and sales promotions will appeal where decision-making is more rational, while competitions, mementoes and athlete endorsement may strengthen the affective dimension.

The study tests the model in the context of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. Alpha Bank and Cosmote (communications), with high involvement products and services, were the highest-spending sponsors, while the products of the dairy company sponsorship partners Delta and Fage would be categorised as low involvement. From interviews with company executives, it was found that all these companies were satisfied with the outcomes of their Olympic sponsorship. The multiple leveraging activities (exhibitions; developing Olympic-related products; involvement with ticketing, booking and the visitor programme; and sponsorship of individual Greek competitors) carried out by Alpha Bank and Cosmote educated the consumer about the sponsorship and the brand, enhanced brand image and increased goodwill towards the companies. The activities of Fage and Delta, who wanted to consolidate market position, develop new distribution channels and position new products, were more sales-related: sales at Olympic venues; Olympic branding on packaging, transport and refrigerators; competitions for retailers and customers; and sales promotions.

Although all companies used activities such as advertising, competitions, promotions and internal marketing activities, the overall profile of leveraging activities was very different for high involvement and low involvement brands, and reflects the suggestions provided in the OLA model.

Introduction

Since 1984 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has administered The Olympic Programme (TOP), which gives a small number of companies exclusive rights to Olympic sponsorship, in particular to product and service categories. This enables companies such as Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Visa to develop long-term partnerships with the Olympic movement and reap the benefits of a strong association. Other sponsors, however, negotiate contracts through the Organising Committee and National Olympic Committee; contracts are generally limited to the four-year period up to and including the Games, awarded in product and service categories which do not conflict with the TOP sponsors. …

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