Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

Insights into the Roles Adopted by the Recipients of Unsolicited Sport Sponsorship Requests

Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

Insights into the Roles Adopted by the Recipients of Unsolicited Sport Sponsorship Requests

Article excerpt


Sponsorship has become an important component of the marketing communication mix given the potential it offers for achieving a number of objectives (e.g. awareness, sales, image enhancement, and corporate hospitality) and targeting a broad range of constituencies (Crowley, 1991; Irwin and Sutton, 1994). Evidence indicates that firms are becoming more heavily involved in sponsorship, in particular sport sponsorship, and that the diversity of industrial sectors involved in sponsorship activities has also increased (Meenaghan, 1998). For example, it is reported that the global sponsorship market in 1997 was worth an estimated US $18.1 billion (Sponsorship Research International, 1998). In the last ten years the market has more than trebled from a 1987 figure of US $5.6 billion.

It is estimated that on average, between 60% and 70% of worldwide sponsorship expenditure is devoted to sport (Sponsorship Research International, 1998). According to Meenaghan (1998) the successful utilisation of sponsorship by early sponsors such as tobacco companies, brewers and motor manufactures has encouraged companies in other industry sectors to enter the market. For example, computer firms, financial institutions, electronics firms, retailers and detergent manufacturers have endorsed this form of communication in recent years.

This increased sponsorship by firms is due, in part, to governments in many countries being unable to continue to meet the demands for sports funding. As a result of this, sporting bodies and other organisations have redirected their requests for support to the corporate sector, leading to the growth of sponsorship activity (Berrett, 1993; Slack and Berrett, 1995). Thus, competition for corporate funding has increased and firms nowadays receive large numbers of unsolicited sponsorship requests. For instance, McCook, Turco and Riley (1997) point out that the company, PepsiCo, receives approximately 500 requests per annum.

This growth in activity has made it increasingly difficult for organisations to select the most suitable proposal. The selection process is critical, since inappropriate decisions may affect the company's brand and/or corporate image, waste managerial efforts and dilute financial resources. In addition, the cost of association with a sporting activity may represent a significant level of expenditure. For example, Adidas paid 20 million [pounds sterling] just for the right to be one of the official sponsors of the 1998 Football World Cup (Edwards, 1998).

Given that a company's resources are finite, a large number of proposals will inevitably be declined. This evidence strongly indicates that sponsorship selection is an area of increasing importance and that those sporting organisations who are able to increase their understanding of the selection process will enhance their chances of creating a successful proposal.

One approach that has been used to enhance our understanding of sponsorship choice is to draw upon concepts of the organisational buyer-behaviour literature, since this area is already relatively well developed. This approach promotes the examination of buying centres and the roles played by the members involved in the decision-making process. It helps to explain why and how decisions are taken.

Given the overwhelming amount of requests that are rejected, the point of entry into the decision-making process represents a key area. In this respect, a person receiving the original enquiry assumes particular importance as they can, for example, decline a proposal on receipt or, at the other extreme, authorise acceptance. It is surprising that little research has been conducted to investigate the activities of the recipients of sponsorship requests, given their importance in the decision process.

The primary purpose of this study is to investigate the activities of the recipients of unsolicited sport sponsorship requests in their role as gatekeepers. …

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