Sponsorship: Associating Image Attributes with Specific Sports and Particular Teams

By Tribou, Gary | International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship, January 2011 | Go to article overview

Sponsorship: Associating Image Attributes with Specific Sports and Particular Teams


Tribou, Gary, International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship


Executive summary

This study offers a means to help sports sponsorship operations managers assess both the attractiveness of image attributes in sports and the fit between endorser and endorsed product. It examines the importance of image dimensions (with respect to sponsors' objectives and conditions to be met) when there is a transfer of image attributes from an event to a sponsor. It includes a survey of image attributes of different sports in France that may align with brand image objectives (carried out from a sample of 1,011 individuals).

This study proposes a tool for decision-making inspired by the Fishbein (1967) compensatory additive model. An example of its application is given in the sponsorship of the Association Sportif Nancy Lorraine (ASNL) football league in France. Two questionnaires were completed by two samples of 150 league subscribers. The aim of the first questionnaire was to recognise the image attributes associated with football played by the league members. The aim of the second questionnaire was to assess the degree of acceptance when assoicating these image attributes with seven of the league's major sponsors. Findings indicate that even though the audience clearly associates an attribute to football and the league itself, the same attributes can only be weakly associated with a particular sponsor, and vice-versa. Consequently, sponsors who align their marketing strategy with a strongly linked attribute need to confirm that the association with its brand is accepted. The limit of such an approach is that it does not incorporate consumer perception of brands independent of sponsorship actions. Therefore, it is difficult to isolate the contribution of an image ascribable only to sports sponsorship.

In France typical sports sponsorship levels range from 4%, where only sponsorship contracts are taken into account, to about 10%, where other activities are carried out during a sporting event such as public relations, poster advertising, direct marketing etc. Certain companies rely more on sports sponsorship (Ferrand et al, 2006). For instance, BNP-Paribas, France's largest company and the fifth largest in the banking industry worldwide, dedicates one quarter of its annual marketing budget of 20 million [euro] to sponsoring tennis. The amount committed to sports sponsorship varies depending on the type of sport and media coverage, but ranges from about 100,000 [euro] to sponsor a sports federation to more than 50 million [euro] for a Fomula 1 racing stable. Such expenditures require streamlining investments.

A sponsor has multiple options that are generally connected to its field of activity, expertise and reputation (McCook et al, 1997). The objectives can be aimed internally from a managerial perspective (e.g. mobilising human resources) or externally from a marketing perspective in the context of a competitive market (i.e. influencing clients and suppliers to increase sales and market share), (Crowley, 1991; Cegarra, 1994). One of the main objectives is to acquire positive image attributes conveyed by a sporting event and/or its participants in order for the sponsor to enrich its brand identity. This is achieved by either reinforcing the association of image attributes shared between the sponsor and the sponsee or transferring specific attributes to the sponsee and, in turn, towards the sponsor to enrich the sponsor's image (Ferrand & Pages, 1999; Grimes & Meenaghan, 1998). However, these image elements are usually accompanied by particularly intense psychological and emotional reactions that can influence the attribution process (Holbrook & Batra, 1987). These psychological reactions touching the sponsor (Speed & Thompson, 2000) depend on the uncertainty of the sport's results and its fundamentally unpredictable nature (Ferrand et al, 2006). Hence, a sponsor integrated into the emotional "halo" specific to the event is indirectly the object of sentimental appreciation, provided that its presence is considered legitimate (Speed & Thompson, 2000). …

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