Asymmetrical Impact of Sponsor Event Fit

Does Fit Matter in Event SponsorshipLinked Marketing?
Angeline Close, University of Texas, Austin
Russell Lacey, Xavier University, Cincinnati
2012 American Marketing Association Summer Educators’ Conference
Consumer Behavior and Sports & Special Event Marketing SIG Session
August 18, 2012
Role of Fit
• Over 40,000 sponsored events annually take place in
US (IEG 2011)
• Managers keenly interested in how event
sponsorship strengthen their brands; event
marketers depend on sponsors to raise revenues and
help absorb costs
• Event marketers provide value to sponsors by looking
for ways to enhance fit between their hosted
experience and sponsor
• Does fit matter to event and sponsor?
Affect Transfer
• Sponsorship may act as conduit to transfer affect
associated with sponsored event to sponsor brand
• Keller’s (1993) theory on brand linkages--this link
influences consumers’ brand associations
• Such extant associations regarding an event become
linked in memory with sponsoring brand and its
• Event experience transfers to sponsoring brand; for
affect transfer to occur, there should be a sponsorevent-consumer fit (Close et al. 2009)
Congruity Theory
• Extent to which consumers’ perceive event and
sponsor having similar image, values, and logical
connection (Simmons & Becker-Olsen 2006)
• Helps explain attitudes when event and sponsor
connect; event-sponsor congruity leads to positive
attitudes toward sponsor (e.g., Ellen et al. 2000; Rifon et al. 2004)
• Congruity routinely assesses impact on sponsor,
rather than simultaneously considering its respective
impact on sponsored event (Coppetti et al. 2009)
Conceptual Model
Moderating Impact of Event-Sponsor Congruity
Event-Sponsor Congruity
Event Entertainment
• Social events are hedonic, with intangible features
producing personal pleasure or enjoyment (Holbrook &
Hirchman 1982)
• Consumers exposed to promotional messages under
favorable conditions where there is enthusiasm,
excitement, and enjoyment (Nicholls et al. 1999)
• Congruity between sponsor and event favorably
influences attitudes toward event (Ruth & Simonin 2003)
H1: Higher congruity sponsorships intensify positive association between
event entertainment and favorable attitude toward event
Activeness in Event Domain
• Consumers drawn to events congruent with their
lifestyles (Kahle et al. 1996)
• Attendees who feel passion about domain of event
are more likely to hold favorable attitudes toward
event (Close et al. 2006)
• Congruity influences relationship between attendee’s
familiarity with event and thoughts about it (Roy &
Cornwell 2004)
H2: Higher congruity sponsorships intensify positive association between
activeness in event domain and attitude toward event
Attitude Toward Event
• Attitudes are relatively stable internal evaluations;
once attitudes toward event formed, they can have
strong impact on sponsor (Dean 2002)
• Consumers more likely to perceive congruity if they
perceive sponsor doing what is right (Becker-Olsen & Hill
• Positive sentiments about sponsorship play valuable
role in strengthening sponsor’s CSR (Geue & Plewa 2010)
H3: Higher congruity sponsorships intensify positive association between
attitude toward event and perceived CSR of sponsor
Sponsor’s Perceived CSR
• CSR refers to firm’s activities and status relative to its
societal or stakeholder obligations (Sen & Bhattacharya
• Knowledgeable consumers more engaged with brand
and its CSR activities (Algeshheimer et al. 2005); congruity
studies should relate to varying brand knowledge
conditions (Sen & Bhattacharya 2001)
H4: Higher congruity sponsorships intensify positive association between
brand knowledge of sponsor and perceived CSR of sponsor
Brand Knowledge
• Brand knowledge in sponsorship terms relates to
more abstract and intangible brand associations held
in minds of consumers about sponsor (Roy & Cornwell 2003)
• Consumers need brand knowledge to establish
commitment to sponsor’s brands (Keller 1993)
• Consumers’ familiarity with sponsor impacts what
they think about sponsor’s brand when they link
brand to sponsored events (Carrillat et al. 2010)
H5: Higher congruity sponsorships intensify positive association between brand
knowledge and brand commitment
Brand Commitment
• Brand commitment entails preference and reluctance
to seek competing brands (Raju et al. 2009)
• Sponsored events with a CSR benefactor strengthens
brand commitment driven by favorable affective
association consumers make about sponsor
• Strong CSR perceptions by strengthening consumer’s
emotional attachment to brand (Lichtenstein et al. 2004);
consumers may transfer impressions of sponsor’s CSR
efforts to commitment to sponsor’s brands
H6: Higher congruity sponsorships intensify positive association between
perceived CSR of sponsor and brand commitment
Purchase Intent
• In addition to brand commitment, companies sponsor
events to increase consumers’ willingness to buy the
sponsor’s products; CSR initiatives create context for
purchase decisions (Pirsch et al. 2007)
• Perceived congruity influences whether consumers
reward sponsor for its community activities; higher fit
between entities contribute to higher purchase intent
(Roth & Romeo 2000)
H7: Higher congruity sponsorships intensify positive association between
perceptions of CSR and purchase intent
H8: Higher congruity sponsorships intensify positive association between brand
commitment and purchase intent
Field Study Research Context
• Context to examine: fit, CSR,
consumer attitudes and
purchase intent
• Event: fifth annual Tour de
Georgia (TDG)
• Presenting sponsor: AT&T
• Beneficiary: GA Cancer
• As one of the premier
cycling races in North
America, drew an estimated
515,000 spectators
• Generated $27.6 million in
direct economic impact to
the State of Georgia
• AT&T received branding at
all venues during race week,
pre-event promotions, TDG
website, and leader jersey
Field Study Method & Sample
• Intercept survey conducted by field-research team;
surveys were distributed throughout all 12 TDG host
venues (n=1,615)
• 44% are 20-39 years old, 59% male
• 53% reported annual household incomes exceeding
$60,000; 27% > $100,000
• 41% traveled from another state or country to attend
Measurement & Scale Items
All constructs used 5-point Likert-type scales, anchored by 1=strongly
disagree/ 5=strongly agree:
• Modified 5-item scale tapping Event-Sponsor Congruity from Speed &
Thompson (2000)
• Adapted Lichtenstein et al.’s (2004) 5-item scale to measure CSR
• Lumpkin & Darden (1989) provided 3 measures of Activeness in Event
• Chandon et al. (2000) developed separate 3-item scales to measure Event
Entertainment and Attitude toward the Event
• Adapted Bloch et al.’s (1989) 3-item scale to measure Brand Knowledge
• Yoo et al. (2000) provided 3-item scale to measure Brand Commitment
• Adapted Baker & Churchill (1977) 4-item scale to measure Purchase Intent
Structural Model Results
Event Entertainment  Attitude toward Event
Activeness in Event Domain Attitude toward Event
Attitude toward Event  Sponsor’s CSR
Brand Knowledge Sponsor’s CSR
Brand Knowledge Brand Commitment
Sponsor’s CSR  Brand Commitment
Sponsor’s CSR Purchase Intent
Brand Commitment to Sponsor  Purchase Intent
Structural model results: NFI=.99; NNFI=.99, CFI=.99; IFI=.99, RMSEA=.071; and SRMR=.035
Multi-group Results
Chi-square Difference Results Among Fit Categories
High Fit vs. Med Fit vs. High Fit vs.
Med Fit
Low Fit
Low Fit
H1: Event Entertainment  Attitude toward Event
H2: Activeness in Event Domain Attitude toward Event
H3: Attitude toward Event  Sponsor’s CSR
H4: Brand Knowledge Sponsor’s CSR
H5: Brand Knowledge Brand Commitment
H6: Sponsor’s CSR  Brand Commitment
H7: Sponsor’s CSR Purchase Intent
H8: Brand Commitment to Sponsor  Purchase Intent
High Fit mean=4.81, n=649; Med Fit mean=3.51, n=613; Low Fit mean=1.78, n=353
1 degree of freedom comparison *p<.01; **p<.001
• Real-world evidence that event-sponsor fit promotes
positive marketing outcomes to sponsor
• Model illustrates how CSR serves as mediator for
transcending favorable attitudes towards event to
enhancing attitudes and preferences for sponsor
• We uncovered asymmetrical impact of fit on sponsor
and event
– Results show congruity plays role in consumers’ perceptions
of sponsor brand and purchase intentions
– Fit did not influence consumers’ evaluation of event

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