Signage vs. No Signage: An Analysis of Sponsorship Recognition in Women's College Basketball

By Maxwell, Heather; Lough, Nancy | Sport Marketing Quarterly, December 2009 | Go to article overview

Signage vs. No Signage: An Analysis of Sponsorship Recognition in Women's College Basketball


Maxwell, Heather, Lough, Nancy, Sport Marketing Quarterly


Abstract

The reliance on signage to generate spectator recognition of sponsors has become so commonplace that the concept of sponsorship is nearly synonymous with the use of signage in sport venues. A multitude of studies have measured sponsorship recognition and/or recall among sport spectators as the means to justify the practice (Bennett, Henson, & Zhang, 2002; Cuneen & Hannan, 1993; Nicholls, Roslow, & Dublish, 1999; Pitts & Slattery, 2004; Pitts, 1998; Stotlar, 1993; Stotlar & Johnson, 1989). Previous literature suggests more highly involved spectators, such as college sport fans, are typically more likely to recognize and support sport sponsors (Dodd, 1997; Pitts, 1998, 2003; Pope & Voges, 2000; Quester, 1997; Shannon & Turley, 1997; Turco, 1995). However, no studies to date have examined correct sponsorship recognition when signage was not utilized. For some, the absence of signage suggests an absence of sponsorship. Yet, in a handful of college basketball arenas, signage is not allowed. As concern grows regarding the commercialization of college sport (Knight Commission, 2009) the possibility of eliminating signage has emerged as a salient construct worthy of further examination. Similarly, few studies have focused specifically on the effectiveness of sponsorship for women's sport (Lough, 1996; Lough & Irwin, 2001). As such, the primary purpose of this study was to examine how the presence of sponsor signage in collegiate basketball arenas influences correct sponsorship recognition by women's basketball spectators. A secondary purpose for the study was to identify additional variables significantly contributing to correct sponsor recognition by women's basketball spectators.

Signage vs. No Signage: An Analysis of Sponsorship Recognition in Women's College Basketball

Sponsorship has emerged as a one of the most commonly utilized marketing strategies in sport. The use of signage has subsequently become one of the most routine sponsorship components (Fullerton, 2007). Reliance on signage to generate spectator recognition of sponsors is so commonplace that the concept of sponsorship is nearly synonymous with the use of signage in sport venues. One key consideration is the intended relationship between in-arena corporate signage and corporate sponsor recognition. The prevailing assumption in sport is in-arena signage increases the likelihood of consumers correctly identifying corporate sponsors, thus providing increased value and return on sponsorship investments (Madrigal, 2001; Shank, 2005). A multitude of studies have examined sponsorship recognition at a variety of sport events, including the Olympic Games (Sandler & Shani, 1993); professional tennis (Bennett, Cunningham, & Dees, 2006.); men's college basketball (Turco, 1997); and college football stadiums (Dees, Bennett, & Villegas, 2008; Stotlar & Johnson, 1989). However, no studies have focused the investigation on a women's sport event.

With the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Issues Committee acknowledging the need to capitalize on the growing interest in women's basketball through increased marketing efforts (Lee, 2004) greater attention has been paid to the unique attributes of women's college basketball. Ridinger and Funk (2006) identified factors associated with commitment and attendance that were unique to women's college basketball spectators. As they stated, "Content and marketing activity specifically targeted towards consumers of women's basketball teams should emphasize the social nature of attending games, spending quality time with significant others, the role model image of the players, and the notion of supporting opportunities for women" (p. 159). In an examination of environmental factors associated with sport consumption behavior and attendance at college basketball games, Fink, Trail, and Anderson (2002) suggested that marketing strategies should vary for different college sport events. …

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