User:Alexavent/BPS 2011 Corporate Sponsorship of Major Sporting Events; an Alternative Marketing Method

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Corporate sport sponsorship is one of many promotional tools used by marketers to sell goods and services. The article Corporate Sponsorship of Major Sporting Events; an Alternative Marketing Method assesses the current involvement of corporate sponsors in major sporting events, with particular focus on the benefits of using sponsorship as an alternative marketing method in promoting an organisation. Discussion relating to this issue will involve both national and international case study examples of events and organisations, supported by academic research.

Using sponsorship as a ‘non-traditional’ promotional tool and creating a positive event-sponsor ‘fit’ and image provide the introductory section to the corporate sponsorship discussion. Further explanation into corporate sponsorship of major sporting events is supported by evidence relating to brand awareness, exposure, sales and revenue for the sporting event. Key case study examples of Coca-Cola, Qantas and ActewAGL have been identified to support the findings in this section of the article.

Corporate sponsorship can range from the support of international events such as the Olympic Games, to local and regional events. It can take the form of ‘on site’ or field sponsorship, or televised broadcast sponsorship (Kuzma and Kuzma, 2009). Sponsorship packages are generally fixed with predetermined benefits or tailored to suit the sponsor’s requirements. The use of sponsorship as a method of marketing an organisation is increasing i popularity. The aim of this article is to provide an outline of the current situation in which corporate sponsorship of major sporting events exists, and the aspects that influence its development as an alternative marketing method.

2008 Bejing Olympics - andymiah


A significant amount of academic research has been conducted into the economic contributions of corporate sponsorship of major sporting events; however the benefits and issues associated with using corporate sponsorship as a promotional tool are yet to be notably defined. The use of sponsorship as an alternative marketing method has increased in both the commercial and social marketing areas (Jalleh, Donovan, Giles-Corti, D’Arcy & Holman, 2002). Issues presented in this article relate to how sponsorship is used to market an organisation, the difference between a high and low event-sponsor fit and the benefits and disadvantages associated with each. Additionally how a sponsor can improve its brand awareness, exposure, sales and revenue through consumer recognition of the brand is outlined. Corporate sponsorship is increasing as it assists in the development of corporate-social responsibility within an organisation. Sponsorship is similar to promotion and advertising in that it can be used to communicate an organisations brand or image to a specifically identified audience.

A Non-Traditional Promotional Technique[edit]

The division of traditional mass marketing and mass media techniques, along with the overall decrease in the efficiency of traditional promotional techniques has resulted in many organisations needing to find alternative methods of promoting products and services (Kuzma et al. 2009). Advertising is generally used as the main type of promotion for an organisations product or service, advertising occurs when there is paid communication of a brand image or corporate message that is controlled by an advertiser and linked specifically to a relevant organisation or brand (Kuzma et al. 2009). Traditional techniques used in promotion are online advertising, print media (flyers, posters, newspapers), direct marketing (newsletters), public relations (media alerts and press releases) and sales promotions (competitions, vouchers and discounts) (Slide Share, 2008). The use of sponsorship as a non traditional promotional technique has enabled companies to engage in a combination of these traditional methods on a larger scale at one time.

Sponsorship is defined as being a monetary or in-kind support made to an organisation in return for access to the commercial potential and promotional material that is associated with that organisation, or included in the program or event (Jalleh et al. 2002; Kuzma et al. 2009). Sponsorship is used as a marketing method in order to achieve identified commercial objectives. Corporate sponsorship as is being discussed throughout this article is the monetary or in-kind support provided to an event by an organisation with the intent of achieving identified promotional and/or marketing objectives (Kuzma et al. 2009). A corporate sponsor aims to generate positive feelings for the consumer so that the sponsored event will become linked with the organisation (Mason, 2005).

Both advertising and sponsorship aim to increase the salience of the organisation or message (Jalleh et al. 2002:35). In recent years there has been a growth in the use of sponsorship as a promotional method due to the increasing costs of media exposure and other promotions. Sponsorship is seen as a cost-effect option in terms of delivering media exposure of the organisations brand image or corporate message (Jalleh et al. 2002).

The use of sponsorship to promote a product or services demonstrates the corporate social responsibility of an organisation, this responsibility has a positive effect on target groups associated with the organisation such as current and potential employees, distributors, members of the community, politicians and additional stakeholders (Jalleh et al. 2002; Kuzma et al. 2009). Sponsorship affects the attitudes of an organisations consumer by generating a positive image or feelings that are associated with the event, or creating feelings of familiarity with the event or organisation.

Creating an Image; the Event-Sponsor Fit[edit]

Corporate sporting event sponsorship has become increasingly popular (Mason, 2005:32) in recent years, with the importance of sourcing sponsorship at major sporting events growing. In many cases it is crucial that corporate sponsorship be obtained, without the support many events would not occur. In order for an organisation to support a major sporting event as a corporate sponsor it is important that there is a strong ‘fit’. This fit is defined by Becker-Olsen and Hill (2006) as being the strategic match between a sponsoring organisation and the sponsored service; in this case the major sporting event, in the mission, target audience and corporate values.

Event organisers need to be aware of the event-sponsor fit between the event and potential corporate sponsors. Often a natural fit between organisations may occur (Jalleh et al. 2002), however, if this fit is not obvious it may need to be interpreted to ensure that the sponsorship arrangement is suitable. Not only does a sponsorship arrangement benefit both organisations involved, it also enables a positive association to be formed between the consumers of the event and the sponsoring organisations product (Mason, 2005).

Creating an image of the positive relationship between organisations is essential as sponsors will aim to build relationships with the sponsored organisation in the form of team support, sponsor receptiveness and sponsor integrity (Smith, Graetz & Westerbeek, 2008). In order to develop the compatibility between the organisations the sponsor may show significant interest in the local community or provide financial support for smaller events, both of which will assist in enhancing the sponsor’s integrity.

High Fit[edit]

As has been previously identified sponsorship is similar to advertising however in relation to exposure of a brand to potential consumers sponsorship operates though a different cognitive process to that of advertising (Mason, 2005). When a corporate sponsor and an event have a high or strong fit the consumer will experience cognitive consistency and respond positively to the brand that has been presented. As a result this process will have a positive influence on the consumer and the brands identity, meaning, response and relationship (Becker-Olsen et al. 2006).

Low Fit[edit]

A low or weak fit between a sponsoring organisation and the event will result in the consumer experiencing cognitive inconsistency which will as a result negatively impact their response to the brand. A low fitting sponsorship arrangement may alter the sponsors brand management strategies by negatively affecting brand identity, meaning, response and relationship (Becker-Olsen et al. 2006). As a result this may cause both organisations to be negatively impacted upon in the form of consumer responsiveness.

The Olympic Games and Coca-Cola Company[edit]

Coca Cola Olympic Worldwide Partner - BrokenSphere

Since 1984 when the Olympic Games were hosted in Los Angeles there has been significant growth in corporate sponsorship, and as a result it is now an important source of income for any host city (Horne, 2007). The Olympic Games are the pinnacle of mega sporting events and the strategic appeal of the event to corporate sponsors relates directly to the size of television audiences viewing the event. There are an incredible number of promotional opportunities generated by the games, and organisations from across the world offer millions of dollars in order to provide support to the hosting Olympic Committee (Horne, 2007). A prime example of a high event-sponsor fit is that of the Olympic Games and the Coca-Cola Company. The Coca-Cola Company is proud to have a long history of sponsoring major events, organisations and projects around the world (Coca-Cola Company, 2011). The company is the longest continuous corporate sponsor of the Olympic Games, having provided support since the 1928 Amsterdam Olympic Games. The Coca-Cola Company and the Olympic Games have a high event-sponsor fit because Coca-Cola Company shares in the values of the Olympic Games (Coca-Cola Company, 2011).

Improving a Company's Brand Awareness[edit]

How Corporate Sponsorship is used to improve a brand[edit]

When corporate sponsorship is coordinated through the correct avenues it can be more effective than traditional advertising or other promotional methods according to (Smith et al. 2008). Corporate sponsorship is firstly sourced from a; consumer, financial institution, government, community or an employee of the targeted organisation (Kuzma et al. 2009). Then through the identification of trading and communication objectives corporate sponsors look to create a return on the investment that has been made through the sponsorship.

Improving Awareness[edit]

Increasing the awareness of an organisation through corporate sponsorship occurs in order to; improve an organisations image, demonstrate corporate social responsibility, increase awareness of a product or services image, provide the consumer with a form of entertainment, increase sales revenue and maintain employee pride and motivation within the organisation (Kuzma et al. 2009). Overall corporate sponsorship allows marketers to create an interactive form of communication that will result in a stronger connection with the consumer.

Attitude of the Consumer[edit]

The key to successful sponsorships is the mutual understanding by both the corporate sponsor and event organiser of how consumer attitudes are formed and change (Jalleh et al. 2002). The overall goal of most corporate sponsorships is to completely change the attitudes of consumers, and as a result create positive consumer behaviour. Unfortunately in recent times marketers have had difficulties with assessing the overall effects and benefits that corporate sponsorship at sporting events has on consumer behaviour (Jalleh et al. 2002).

Case Study Examples[edit]


Qantas Boeing 747-400 Official Air Transport Provider to the Qantas Wallabies - Paul Spijkers
Qantas proudly supports the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix - Tom Reynolds

Qantas is the naming rights corporate sponsor of the Australian Rugby Union, and the official airline of the Qantas Wallabies (Qantas Airways, 2011). Additionally Qantas provides corporate sponsorship to the Football Federation of Australia (FFA) and is the official partner and air transport provider to the Qantas Socceroos, the FFA employees and Hyundai A-League teams. Qantas continues to support the sport of Formula 1 in Australia and has been a supporter of the Australian Grand Prix since 1985. The company is now the Premier Partner of the 2011 event. Finally Qantas has been a proud partner of the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) for over 40 years, transporting Australia’s Olympic and Paralympics teams to the Olympic Games in both 2008 and 2010, and will carry the team to the 2012 Olympic Games in London (Qantas Airways, 2011).


ActewAGL Logo - ActewAGL

ActewAGL are a Canberra, Australia based organisation that are renowned within the community for supporting local sporting teams and events. Included in the events that ActewAGL provide financial support for are; the Women’s Golf Classic, Sydney Swans games at Manuka Oval and the annual Canberra Times Fun Run which ActewAGL has supported for over 10 years (ActewAGL, 2011).

In addition to providing annual financial support for sporting events, the employees of ActewAGL invest time, resources and expertise in organising and working at these events. They drive additional sponsorship and fundraising campaigns as well as generating publicity for both the ActewAGL brand and the sporting event (ActewAGL, 2011).


The use of corporate sponsorship has become an enormous promotional tool for many organisations and is often provides the backbone to ensuring that a major sporting event is successful. Throughout this article the issues of event-sponsor fit, improving brand awareness, exposure, sales, and revenue and consumer attitudes through brand recognition have been presented. Through the findings presented in this article it is evident that many major sporting events would not occur without the support of corporate sponsors.


ActewAGL, 2011, Sponsorship and Events,, 10 October 2011.

Becker-Olsen, K. & Hill, R., 2006, ‘The Impact of Sponsor Fit on Brand Equity: The Case of Nonprofit Service Providers’, Journal of Service Research, Vol 9, Issue 1, pp. 73 – 82.

Brown, G., 2002, ‘Taking the pulse of Olympic Sponsorship’, Event Management, Vol 7, Issue 3, pp. 187-196.

Coca-Cola Company, 2001, The Olympic Games, online 1 October 2011.

Getz, D. & Fairley, S., 2003, ‘Media Management at sport events for destination promotion: case studies and concepts’, Event Management, Vol 8, Issue 3, pp, 127-139.

Hall, C., 2006, ‘Urban entrepreneurship, corporate interests and sports mega-events: the thin policies of competitiveness within the hard outcomes of neoliberalism’, Sociological Review, pp. 59 – 70.

Henseler, J., Wilson, B. & De Vreede, D., 2009, ‘Can sponsorships be harmful for events? Investigating the transfer of associations from sponsors to events’, International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship, Vol 10, Issue 3, pp. 244.

Horne, J., 2007, ‘The Four ‘Knowns’ of Sports Mega-Events’, Leisure Studies, Vol 26, Issue 1, pp. 81 - 96.

Jalleh, G., Donovan, R., Giles-Corti, B., D’Arcy, C., & Holman, J., 2002, ‘Sponsorship: Impact on brand awareness and brand attitude’, Social Marketing, Vol 8, Issue 1, pp. 35 – 45.

Kuzma, A. & Kuzma, J., 2009, ‘Corporate Sponsorship in the Marketing Curriculum: A Preliminary Investigation’, Journal of Instructional Pedagogies, Vol 1, pp. 1 – 10.

Mason, K., 2005, ‘How Corporate Sport Sponsorship Impacts Consumer Behaviour’], The Journal of American Academy of Business, Vol 7, Issue 1, pp. 32 – 35.

Qantas Airways, 2011, Spirit of Sport,, online 10 October 2011.

Plewa, C., & Quester, P., 2001, ‘Sponsorship and CSR: is there a link? A conceptual framework’, International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship, Vol 12, Issue 4, pp. 301.

Slide Share, 2008, Promotional Techniques,, online 10 September 2011.

Smith, A., Gratez, B. & Westerbeek, H., 2004, ‘Sport sponsorship, team support and purchase intentions’, Journal of Marketing Communication, Vol 14, Issue 5, pp. 387 – 404.