Exploring the Influence of Television Sport on Consumers' Attitudes towards Programme-Embedded Advertising Using Motivational Responses Generated by the Game

Article excerpt

Executive summary

This study explores the ways in which motivations induced from watching broadcasts of mega-sporting events influence audiences' responses to the commercials embedded in the broadcast. Evolutionary perspective suggests that programme-induced emotions are conceived of as activators of executive motivation systems, which direct energy to deal with particular adaptation problems (Schaller et al, 2009). Thus, the effectiveness of an advertisement embedded in a television programme is likely to be determined by the interaction between the activated motivation system and the capacity of the advertising cues to fulfill the audience's needs. These needs are governed by the motivation system, which is induced by the television programme (Griskevicius et al, 2009).

Sociality constitutes one of the most fundamental aspects of human nature (Baumeister & Leary, 1995). This study focuses on social motivations, specifically the motives for competence and relatedness, as these two motives are most likely to be activated by watching a televised sporting event. The relatedness motive reflects the 'horizontal' aspects of social groupings (the motivation to affiliate with others, for example), whereas the competence motive reflects the 'vertical' aspects of social groupings (such as the effectiveness of interacting with one's physical and social world).

In this study, we posit that the telecasts of mega-sporting events induce relatedness motives, rather than competence motives. Thus, the advertisements embedded in the telecasts will be more effective when they appeal to the relatedness motive. To test this idea, we classified advertising cues into two categories based on whether the cue activates the competence or the relatedness motivational system. For example, advertisements with cues of popularity, nurturance, family, community and affiliation were placed in the relatedness category. These cues directly imply human connections, affiliation with others or the formation of social bonds. Advertisements with cues of distinctiveness, vanity, sexuality, status and self-esteem were placed in the competence category. These cues help individuals positively differentiate themselves from others. We then tested how advertising cues from the different categories are associated with the commercial likeability of advertisements embedded in the telecasts of the events.

Overall, the findings were consistent with the hypothesis that broadcasts of mega-sporting events activate the relatedness motive, causing viewers to show preference for commercials with relatedness cues (e.g. popularity). Also consistent with predictions, there were no differences between commercials that did and did not include motive-inconsistent competence cues (e.g. distinctiveness cue).

Findings suggest that sports marketers should take programme-induced motives into consideration in order to prepare effective advertising campaigns during the telecasts of sporting events. Understanding the motives engaged by television programmes is important: as our results suggest, watching a television programme is likely to activate a specific motivation system. Thus, sports marketers should create advertisements consistent with the motivation system that they expect will be induced by the telecast.


Sports marketers have long attempted to identify effective advertising strategies (e.g. Bennett et al, 2006) that fit well with sports broadcasts. It is an established fact that the television programme being watched influences the way the embedded advertisements are perceived (Pavelchak et al, 1988). This is because the motivation system activated by the programme-induced affective state influences audiences' processing of advertising (Bal et al, 2009). Given that sports programmes are rarely emotionally neutral, they contribute to the context in which the advertising message is received and processed by making one motivational system more dominant than others (Gardner, 1985; Bal et al, 2009). …


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