Marketing and Sponsorship

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The role of sponsorship in the marketing communications mix
Tony Meenaghan International Journal of Advertising Vol. 10, No. 1, 1991



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The role of sponsorship in the marketing communications mix Tony Meenaghan International Journal of Advertising Vol. 10, No. 1, 1991

The role of sponsorship in the marketing communications mix
Tony Meenaghan

This article examines the development of commercial sponsorship as a legitimate marketing communications option available to management. Initial attention focuses on the causes of sponsorship emergence, the current developments in this growing industry and the prospects therein. Sponsorship's role on behalf of management is then discussed in terms of potential objectives and target audiences. Sponsorship management issues in terms of selection, implementation and results evaluation are subsequently examined. INTRODUCTION The purpose of this paper is to examine the development of commercial sponsorship and its role in the marketing communications mix. It seeks to do so by focusing on two main areas. The development of sponsorship The following questions are examined: 1. What is sponsorship? 2. What factors are behind its past development? 3. What is happening now in the sponsorship market? 4. What developments are likely in the future? Sponsorship in a management context The following questions are examined: 1. What is its role in marketing communications? 2. Who are its audiences and what can sponsorship achieve with these audiences? 3. How is the correct sponsorship programme selected? 4. How must it be implemented and subsequently evaluated? DEFINING COMMERCIAL SPONSORSHIP Sponsorship is a relatively recent development and can truly be described as an area of marketing in which basic principles are still being laid down. The following definition is appropriate at the present stage of sponsorship's development. Downloaded from




Commercial sponsorship is an investment, in cash or in kind, in an activity, in return for access to the exploitable commercial potential associated with that activity. What this definition is saying is that from the sponsor's point of view the price paid is his investment in return for permission to exploit a particular activity. Essentially the sponsor is buying two things: 1. the exposure potential which the activity has in terms of audience; and 2. the image associated with that activity in terms of how it is perceived. It is important to regard sponsorship as similar to advertising in that money is invested for commercial purposes. It must not be confused with other forms of corporate giving such as patronage or charity where the motives are altruistic, with the returns expected to be to society and not to the company itself. THE SIZE OF THE SPONSORSHIP MARKET Recent decades have seen the very rapid development of commercial sponsorship. An analysis of the UK sponsorship market provides a graphic illustration of this development with UK sponsorship expenditure showing a ten-fold increase between 1974 and 1986. In 1974 expenditure on sponsorship in the UK was estimated at 18 million (Table 1). In 1990 it was estimated that 288 million was spent on sponsorship in the UK (Minter, 1990). TABLE 1: UK EXPENDITURE ON SPONSORSHIP 1980-1990 ( MILLION) Year   1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 (forecast) Total expenditure   35 72 105 128 145 167 191 220 250 258 288

Source: Mintel On a world-wide basis commercial sponsorship is increasingly recognized as a legitimate communications option for marketing management. In 1986 direct sponsorship expenditure world-wide was valued at 3.6 billion dollars, a figure which represents between 2.5 per cent and 3.5 per cent of all advertising expenditure world-wide. In 1987, world-wide expenditure was estimated at $4.1 billion (ISL Marketing, 1988) (Table 2). TABLE 2: WORLD-WIDE SPONSORSHIP EXPENDITURE IN...
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