Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

Sponsorship - a Confirmed Weapon in the Promotional Armoury. (Analysis)

Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

Sponsorship - a Confirmed Weapon in the Promotional Armoury. (Analysis)

Article excerpt

Abstract: Sponsorship's ability to help a company achieve its corporate and marketing objectives has enabled the communication tool to climb to the top of a marketer's promotional consideration set. This paper sets out to review the industry's current understanding of sponsorship as a promotional mechanism. As the medium's underlying principles are identified, marketing practitioners are provided with examples and strategic guidelines so that they are able to maximise their sponsorship investments.

Keywords: Sponsorship, Communications Mix, Brand Equity and Ambush Marketing

Executive Summary

Sponsorship gained popularity amongst marketers as an effective brand equity-building strategy following the staging of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. Over the last two decades, sponsorship has clearly outperformed other promotional tools in terms of growth. Through technological developments, sponsorship is able to deliver brand messages to a diverse number of audiences on a global scale. Consequently, sponsorship has become a prime vehicle for marketers to achieve their marketing objectives.

The importance of sponsorship marketing is typified by the medium's ever-increasing share of a company's marketing communications mix. From a marketing perspective, knowledge and expertise in sponsorship management is in demand as companies are increasingly being inundated with sponsorship proposals and the realisation of sponsorship as a potent brand-building tool. This paper reviews the extent to which the sponsorship industry has journeyed towards understanding its own mechanisms for success and sponsorship's role in the marketing mix. Marketing professionals who are contemplating the thought of associating with a sports property or those marketers who are looking to extract additional value out of their current sponsorship arrangements will derive utility from the sponsorship theories outlined in this review. Furthermore, sports property owners may find this paper of interest as insights can be gained into key sponsor considerations which will help them in their efforts to secure vital sponsorship funds.

As sponsorship's underlying principles are identified throughout the paper, the implications for practitioners and standards of best practice are discussed. Sponsorship success is dependent upon whether sponsorship objectives were achieved. Thus, the formulation of objectives is very important as the post-sponsorship assessment is very difficult otherwise. To maximise sponsorship effectiveness, it is advised that sponsors leverage their investments with other elements of the communications mix such as advertising, public relations and sales promotion activities. By integrating sponsorship with other promotional tools, sponsors also minimise the threat of ambush marketing which aims to reduce the impact of sponsorship.


Sponsorship has the potential to become the marketing communication tool of the 21st century. This conjecture is not so hard to believe for those who have witnessed the proliferation of the sponsorship medium over the last two decades. Marketers now recognise sponsorship as an effective promotional alternative vis-a-vis other marketing communication tools.

The paper begins by articulating a working definition of sponsorship and outlining the medium's recent growth and future potential. The need to set sponsorship objectives and target specific audiences is detailed before explaining sponsorship's role in driving brand equity. Next, the distinction between sponsorship and advertising is made followed by the recommendation to leverage investments in order to achieve maximum effectiveness. This can be achieved by integrating sponsorship within both the communications and marketing mixes. By implementing an integrated approach to sponsorship investments, marketers also minimise the threat from competitors' ambush marketing tactics. Finally, two schools of thought of how sponsorship works are then presented before concluding with a brief summary of key concepts which have been outlined in this paper and future sponsorship developments. …

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