Event Sponsorship as a Value Creating Strategy for Brands

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Event sponsorship as a value creating strategy for brands
Dimitra Papadimitriou
University of Patras, Patra, Greece

Artemisia Apostolopoulou
Robert Morris University, Moon Township, Pennsylvania, USA, and

Theofanis Dounis
University of Patras, Patras, Greece
Abstract Purpose – The present research involves corporations that served as Grand National Sponsors of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and aims to explore whether a strategic approach was employed in the acquisition and management of their Olympic sponsorship. Design/methodology/approach – A multiple case study analysis was employed, for which data were collected through semi-structured interviews. The study sample included seven of the ten Grand National Sponsors that signed agreements with ATHOC, the Organizing Committee of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. Data analysis was organized around five themes inspired by the existing literature. Findings – With the exception of two firms, the majority of the Grand National Sponsors reported no clear or measurable objectives and limited consideration to strategic or brand-related initiatives in their decisions to invest in the national Olympic sponsorship program. However, they did report plans to invest resources to leverage their rights, even though in most cases no specific evaluation processes had been designed. Research limitations/implications – Given that the Olympic Games are organized every four years in a new location, the findings of this research may not find direct application to other markets and organizing committees that implement their own sponsorship programs. Nevertheless, this research did show relatively poor recognition of the role of sponsorship in creating value and building the corporate brand. Corporations considering becoming involved in sport sponsorship and also event organizers are encouraged to adopt a more strategic approach in the sponsorship solicitation and management process. Originality/value – Existing literature has discussed the role of sport sponsorship in brand management and the communication mix, and has highlighted the benefits for firms that establish long-term ties with the Olympic Games. The present research adds to that line of work by highlighting if and how a strategic and brand building approach was adopted in the context of national-level Olympic partnerships. Keywords Sponsorship, Olympic Games, Brand management, Corporate strategy Paper type Research paper

An executive summary for managers and executive readers can be found at the end of this article.

Introduction
The meaning of sponsorship as an integral element of the marketing mix has been conceptualised by Sandler and Shani (1993) with the following definition: “[Sponsorship is] the provision of resources (money, people, or equipment) by an organization directly to an event or activity in exchange for a direct association to the event or activity” (p. 39). Corporate spending on sport sponsorship in many European countries and in North America has increased dramatically (Lachowetz et al., 2003). Global spending on sponsorship was estimated to reach $US28 billion in 2004 (from $US25.9 billion in 2003) of which, according to the The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at www.emeraldinsight.com/1061-0421.htm

Journal of Product & Brand Management 17/4 (2008) 212– 222 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited [ISSN 1061-0421] [DOI 10.1108/10610420810887563]

International Events Group, 69 per cent relates to sporting events (International Events Group, n.d.). There is plenty of evidence that sport sponsorship, including Olympic sponsorship, can be very effective in achieving a number of objectives, not the least of which is competitive advantage related to brand image and reputation (Amis et al., 1997; Copeland et al., 1996; Meenaghan, 1998). The sport marketing literature provides some discussion on the value of sport sponsorship in also delivering other benefits, such as increased...
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