Sponsorships: a double edged-sword

One of the things I enjoy the most from soccer is purchasing and wearing different teams’ jerseys. I purchase jerseys almost every year and my purchase decision depends both on the team and the esthetic of the jersey itself. There have been even situations when a jersey has influenced my attitude towards a team. I initially became a “Roma” fan because I loved this team’s jersey. But as most European soccer jerseys are very appealing, during the past years I have been dissatisfied with my hometown team’s jerseys which have made me reluctant to buy them even though it is my favorite team.

In the past years there has been a trend by Ecuadorian soccer teams to use a tremendous amount of logos and sponsors in their jerseys. In opposition to European teams that use only one sponsor, all Ecuadorian teams use at least 5 different logos and some of them use even 10 logos in their jerseys.

This trend was initially only seen on small teams who really need a large number of sponsors to generate income. But abruptly larger teams, with no real financial needs but with ambition, began to implement this strategy and increase the number of sponsors in their jerseys. This increasing amount of sponsorship is not only a thing from my country; it is a thing I see in various sports and regions of the world.

I believe that, even though sponsorships are an important source of income, sport organizations should stop focusing on how to generate the largest amount of income quickly, but instead implement a business model that takes into account the consumers (fans) needs and desires. This is because a business model strictly focused in generating income, through large amount of sponsorships, can lead to negative effects for both sports and sponsors.

Many people may argue that sponsors are what keep sports alive and that it is also the vehicle for sports to cover larger audiences and grow. I really believe that sponsorships are an essential part of sports, but I also believe that if sponsorships are not managed carefully they could harm a sports organization’s image or brand equity. A research published in the International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship regarding the effects of saturated levels of sponsorships in jerseys, showed that there is a significant negative effect on attitude towards the team and team related purchase intention by the number of logos in the shirt.

Therefore, sponsorships and the attitude towards a team are negatively correlated. As an organization increases its revenue by increasing the amount of sponsors, at the same time is generating a negative attitude towards it and harming its image. One example of this can be found in Keith Bolling’s article, Advertising Sponsor Destroying the Spirit of Sports. The author shows the negative effects that certain type of sponsorship has on extreme sports. Extreme sports are often perceived a vehicle for self-expression, self-awareness, done under an idea of breaking limits and rules, and are a connection with nature. But sponsorships are destroying the spirit and image of these sports as large amounts of companies, who don’t have any relationship with extreme sports, sponsor these types of sports.

The large amount of sponsorship has also a negative effect on sponsors. The same research mentioned above shows that the excessive amount of advertisement on jerseys is wasteful for sponsors. Another study done by scholars form the Chemnitz University of Technology explains why. This study shows that saturation levels of sponsorships generate confusion on consumers. The intensive use of sponsorship interfere with the information processing by consumers, which impedes consumers to select and interpret relevant stimuli. This sense of confusion, because of information overload, generates annoyance. This sense of annoyance decreases the recall rate (ability to identify and remember brands), produces negative attitudes and reactant behavioral intentions. Therefore, sponsorship saturation can not only become inefficient for sponsors but also affect them negatively making people feel annoyed by sponsors.

Sponsorships, strictly from a financial point of view, are a completely positive source of revenue for businesses. Nevertheless, sport organizations shouldn’t perceive sponsorship merely as a financial instrument, but should take into account consumers’ attitudes and brand equity at the moment of managing and forming contracts with sponsors. If sports organizations don’t manage sponsorships carefully and don’t implement a business model that takes into account their brand’s value, we will continue to see saturated levels of sponsorships which are something ineffective for sponsors and harmful for sport’s image.

 

Information taken from:

Mikhailitchenko, Andrey G., Dennis H. Tootelian, and Galina N. Mikhailitchenko. “Exploring saturation levels for sponsorship logos on professional sports shirts: a cross-cultural study. (English).” International Journal Of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship 13, no. 4 (July 2012): 267-281.

http://www.cies-uni.org/sites/default/files/january_2012_ijsms_volume13_number2.pdf

 

For further reading:

http://www.helium.com/items/2213177-negative-aspects-of-sports-sponsorship

http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/pe/participation/1_participation_socialcultural_rev1.shtml

http://www.sportmarketingassociation.com/2010conference/2010conferencepresentations/P-78.pdf

 

 

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