Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

Exploring Saturation Levels for Sponsorship Logos on Professional Sports Shirts: A Cross-Cultural Study

Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

Exploring Saturation Levels for Sponsorship Logos on Professional Sports Shirts: A Cross-Cultural Study

Article excerpt

Executive summary

This study explores the influence of shirt sponsorship advertising on different attitudinal variables reflecting team and brand equity in cross-cultural settings. Three major patterns of on-shirt advertising were identified: the logo-free or 'clean' approach practised in the National Hockey League (NHL); the restrained approaches used in the American Hockey League (AHL) and the Russian Kontinental Hockey League (KHL); and the unrestrained approach typical of the majority of European hockey leagues.

A cross-cultural sample of respondents from North America and Europe was used for testing the influence of intensity of on-shirt advertising on three variables: attitude towards the team; team-related purchase intention; and sponsor brand recall rate. The study also addressed the issue of cross-cultural differences between the fans and explored the peculiarities of how tested effects work in North America and Europe.

The postulated patterns were tested with a succession of ANOVAs. The negative influence of a greater numbers of logos on the hockey players' shirts on attitude towards the team and team-related purchase intentions proved to be significant for both the US and the Russian samples. The results also demonstrated a significant and abrupt fall in brand recall for shirts with a high level of advertising intensity.

Inverse links between the number of sponsors' logos on the team jersey and attitude towards the team and team-related purchase intentions worked differently in the two cultural samples; however, the inverse link between the number of sponsors' logos on the team shirt and brand recall did not reveal significant cross cultural differences.

The results have theoretical and managerial significance. From a theoretical perspective, the study expands the existing research in use of imagery in advertising by extending it to sports marketing and testing it in two highly distinct cultural environments.

The results provide additional evidence in favour of non-linear rather than monotonic patterns for the effect on brand attitude and brand purchase intentions. The study also provides insights into how an increased level of intensity of logo advertising diminishes the effectiveness of the imagery.

From a managerial perspective, the results demonstrate that excessive advertising (i.e. more than two logos on a shirt) is harmful to team image and wasteful for sponsors. However, the study also provides evidence that team-related purchase intentions do not significantly reduce when a hockey shirt carris two logos rather than no logo. Fans' attitudes, willingness to attend games and watch their team on TV and intentions to purchase team merchandise do not substantially decrease with the use of two logos on the shirt. The traditional trade-off between earnings from sponsorship deals and losses from the team's decline in attractiveness is not dramatic or perhaps does not even exist. Therefore, moderate advertising (i.e. no more than two sponsor logos) does not lead to a loss of team identity or reputation.

Introduction

With the dynamic growth of the sports industry over the past decade, and the increased globalisation of sports competition within and between countries, business-to-consumer marketers have committed more effort to assessing the pros and cons of sponsorship logos on players' shirts and to evaluating the effect this has on team image and sponsor brand value.

The purpose of this study was to explore theoretical and empirical links between the intensity of shirt advertising and team-related and brand-related customer intention, in cross-cultural settings. The study analysed shirts of ice hockey teams in the US, western Europe and Russia to study the potential impact of team and sponsor logos on consumer image and purchase intention.

Those working in business-to-consumer marketers in the sports industry wish to optimise the advertising load on players' shirts, to strike a reasonable balance between short-term financial goals associated with earnings from sponsorship and the long-term goals of not alienating the fan base and thereby enhancing the reputation of the team and its future financial value for owners and investors. …

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