Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

Sponsorship in North America: A Survey of Sport Executives

Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

Sponsorship in North America: A Survey of Sport Executives

Article excerpt

* Keywords: Sponsorship, North America, Trends

Executive Summary

The present study consisted of a questionnaire mailed to 250 sport executives associated with professional sport teams and sport properties in North America. Qualitative methods were also utilized through telephone interviews with executives in sponsoring corporations.

Participants in the study were asked to indicate where sponsorship dollars would be directed over the next three years. A clear majority of team/property executives and sponsors were of the opinion that national level sport competition would receive the majority of sponsorship dollars.

Others responses were divided as to whether regional or local competitions would be more successful. Some (8.6%) of the corporate sponsors thought that international sponsorships would begin to attract dollars away from the North American market for multi-national corporations.

The sport executives were also requested to predict changes in corporate spending on sport sponsorship over the next two years. Both the team/property respondents and the sponsors forecast increases in spending in the 6-10% range. On the team/property side, only 11% anticipated a decrease in sponsorship funding. The estimate from those respondents put that decrease in the 10-15% range.

Similar data were obtained from the sponsor side as well. Just over 8% of sponsors anticipated decreasing their expenditures on sponsorship. Collectively, these data are a bit more conservative when compared to the forecast of Chicago-based International Events Group that projected a 15% growth rate for sponsorship spending during 1998.

Respondents were asked which specific sports would attract sponsorship allocations. Golf and women's sport in general were highly rated by both groups. Sponsors, while noting its value, were a bit less optimistic about women's sport in general than were team/property respondents.

The maturity of the NBA and the broad appeal of the NFL were also reported by both groups of subjects. Major League Baseball was well situated in the minds of both constituencies, but sport executives and several sponsors noted baseball as decreasing in influence. Furthermore, NASCAR continued to exert its influence across-the-board. However, one sponsor commented: "We have 50 team cars now: how much more can we stand?"

After years of media attention touting soccer as the sport of the future, it seems that the future has yet to arrive in the minds of these sport executives.

Using a scale of 1 to 9 (1 = very undesirable; 9 = very desirable), respondents from both the team/property side and from the sponsors side were asked to rate the importance of several factors believed to be desirable in sponsorship packages.

Overall, sponsors rated the items higher than did the sport executives. Four items were rated above eight by the sponsors while only one was rated as high by the team/properties. The most notable discrepancies were in the provision of hospitality opportunities and in ties to current ad campaigns. These data seem to indicate that teams and properties need to direct additional attention to the needs of the sponsor in these areas. Both sport executives and sponsors clearly identified the factor of driving quantifiable sales as a key factor in sponsorship arrangements.


Corporate spending on sponsorship increased dramatically during decades of the 1980s and 1990s and has been projected to reach $17.35 billion (US$) in 1998. In North America, 1998 spending on sponsorship was projected to rise to $6.8 billion from over 4,800 companies, Europe added $5 billion, Pacific Rim businesses spent $3.3 billion, and Central and South America were to contribute $1.25 billion.

Sponsorship spending seems to be growing at double digit rates in regions other than North America, yet North America clearly represents a mature market where in other regions international sport sponsorship is still experiencing significant increases and growth. …

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