Corporate Sponsorships and Athletes Relations

In trying to understand the symbiotic relationship between sponsorship and advertisements it is important to take note of the main goal of all marketing campaigns which is basically to entice consumers to purchase a particular product or service by virtue of the way in which the company promotes it1. Utilizing the theory of rational behavior that assumes all companies will act rationally towards a particular goal it can be stated that the advertising campaigns of all companies will of course attempt to present the product that they are selling in the best possible light2. While there are numerous methods of doing this such as traditional print ads or modern viral marketing campaigns some companies opt to take the route of utilizing corporate funded sponsorships as a method of advertising their particular brand or product34. This often takes the form of having some popular actor, actress or athlete showcase either their support for the product or their use of it in order to entice people to buy the product themselves56.

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The logic behind this particular method of advertising stems from the fact that people are more likely to purchase a product or utilize a particular service if they see someone else happily using it, studies even show that the likelihood of product patronage goes up astronomically if it is seen that a pop culture icon is utilizing a particular type of product7. This speaks volumes of the influence of pop culture on consumer buying behavior however it is also indicative of the fact that companies are aware of what causes consumers to purchase a particular product and act accordingly in order to exploit it.

Various forms of consumable media in the form of print ads, billboards, commercials, online marketing campaigns and a plethora of other types of advertising initiatives are rife with the images of various popular individuals showing just how prevalent product endorsements are in the advertising campaigns of numerous companies8. Of particular interest is the concept of sports marketing and how consumer patronage of particular sports brands are affected by the relationship between sponsorships and advertisements9. Based on the work of Fullerton and Merz, sports marketing can be defined as “the activities of consumer and industrial product and service marketers who are increasingly using sport as a promotional vehicle”. In other words there has been an ongoing and increasingly expanding trend where companies utilize sports as a manner in which they promote the product of their company10.

What must be understood is that through the dynamics of public interest in pop culture that extends into the realm of sports people become increasingly fascinated with various sports stars to such an extent that they attempt to emulate them in every way possible11. These results in them buying sports jerseys in the same style and colour as their favorite athlete buy products which that particular athlete uses and even drink the same type of drink they see an athlete drinking1213. All of this conforms with the inherent notion that if a particular athlete is using it then it must be good14.

Companies exploit this by utilizing sponsorships in the form of endorsement deals by having certain athletes always and only use their particular brand15. Notable examples of this can be seen through athletes such as Michael Jordan and his endorsement deal with Nike which led up to the creation of the Air Jordan sneaker brand, Manny Pacquiao and his varied endorsement deals with Nike, EverLast and Gillette and lastly Tiger Words and his association with nearly hundreds of brands the most notable of which was Nike16. The result of these endorsements has been to bring the branding and knowledge of the product beyond what can be seen in advertisements and print ads lending it an extra sense of credibility since audiences always see their favorite athletes utilizing that particular brand17.

It must be questioned though if such initiatives have a prolonged impact on consumer buying behavior or rather if brands continue to be relevant when connected to particular athletes outside sporting events18. While it is a proven fact that consumers gain better brand recognition observing a particular athlete supporting brands during a sporting event there are few studies which have examined the prolonged impact of endorsement deals outside of the event itself19.

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Companies want consumers to buy their products and as such rely on a certain degree of “continued prolonged effect” of an endorsement deal in order to encourage product patronage and buying behavior20. The purpose of all company sponsored endorsement deals after all is to make athletes into walking advertising billboards by connecting that athlete to the image of the brand21. Various studies examining the impact of particular advertising campaigns on consumers show that by and large not all advertising campaigns have a prolonged period of impact on the mindset of consumers2223. Taking this into consideration it can also be assumed that not all corporate endorsement deals connected to particular athletes have the desired effect of prolonged exposure as compared to billboards and commercials. In fact it can even be stated that since athletes don’t always sport the brands they’re suppose to be endorsing this results in a situation where corporate sponsored endorsement deals are in fact less effective a method of advertising as compared to traditional print ads and commercials as well as modern viral marketing campaigns24.

Several studies examining this particular phenomena point to the fact that sporting brands are under the assumption that they are “required” to sponsor athletes in order to create sufficient brand awareness25. While it may be true that various marketing studies examining this particular aspect of advertising do point out that there is greater brand awareness when a particular product is endorsed by an athlete they always seem to focus on the concept of the athlete sponsoring the product and not on the fact that there was a massive marketing campaign in the form of commercials, print ads and billboards which was presented to the public26.

In fact these particular studies fail to measure the degree of “prolonged” brand awareness versus “short term” brand awareness and instead group the brand awareness created by athletes under a generalized concept of merely bringing the brand into the public spotlight without measuring how long the degree of public awareness lasts27.

As mentioned earlier athletes aren’t always in the public spotlight and they don’t always display the brands they are suppose to endorse thus limiting their ability to effectively advertise a particular product2829. This is important to take note of since a company paying an athlete several million dollars to endorse a product may in fact find themselves wasting money due to the short term awareness generated by the endorsement deal as compared to utilizing the same amount of money on other forms of advertising which would create prolonged brand awareness.

This paper proposes that corporate sponsorships for athletes are in fact a method of short-term brand awareness and as such are not as effective as other forms of traditional advertising, which by virtue of continuous exposure to the public results in a greater degree of brand awareness30.

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Study Context

For this research study what will be examined is whether there is a prolonged effect of sponsorship based advertising utilizing athletes and to see whether sports brand recognition continues to be attached to athletes after a set period of time. The reason behind this to determine whether sponsorship based endorsement deals are actually a viable method of ensuring prolonged brand awareness or are a method of creating short term product visibility with little long term effects.

Fizel et al. 2008 (2008) in their examination of the impact of sponsorship endorsements on conventional athletic stars (not in the same category of fame as Lebron James, Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant etc.) showed that the announced endorsement deals between companies and conventional athletic stars actually had an insignificant impact on the market value of the firm compared to instances where a product is endorsed by a mega star athlete which results in an increased stock price.

They state that there is little support of the conventional product-endorser match-up hypothesis advocated by advertisers (referring to endorsement deals generating greater product sales) and in fact Fizel et al. (2008) posits the idea that even endorsement contracts with mega star athletes are in fact no longer a viable method of advertising due to the excessive saturation of athletes that are associated with particular sports brands. Based on a statement from Brett Shevack, CEO of a New York advertising firm, that with a few exceptions (Lebron James, Kobe Bryant etc.) the oversaturation of company sponsorships for athletes has resulted in few consumers actually knowing which athlete endorses which brand (Fizel et al., 2008).

Taking the findings of Fizel et al. (2008) into consideration what must be understood is that currently advertisers connect sponsorship based endorsement deals as a method of brand recognition without taking into consideration whether the effect is short or long term. They assume that so long as the athlete is connected to the brand that this in turn is sufficient in order to entice consumers to purchase a particular sports brand product based on what they saw the athlete using or wearing31. The problem with this particular method of thinking is that not all consumers will immediately buy a product after they see an athlete using it32 33.

There are several factors that should be taken into consideration such as a consumer’s ability to afford a product, product availability in their area as well as competing interests in the form of other sports brands attempting to sway the consumer towards purchasing their brand instead34. As such advertisers have to factor in whether a particular method of advertising has a short or long term effect on the degree of brand awareness on consumers especially when taking into consideration the fact that not all consumers can immediately buy a product35.

While it may be true that numerous studies show that endorsement deals do in fact create product awareness the fact remains that such studies neglect to take into account the repetitive nature of sporting events (televised NBA season games, boxing matches etc.) and how this acts in the same way as a televised advertising campaign36. What must be understood is that advertising campaigns in the form of television commercials function in a manner in which they are repeatedly presented to a consumer in order to entice them to purchase the product or service they are presenting37. This works off the principal that repeatedly showing and enticing a person to buy a particular product actually has the psychological effect of causing them to be more likely to purchase that product when presented with the choice38.

Televised sporting events repeatedly show athletes sporting certain brands, which act as a way of connecting the brand to the athlete as a method of advertising39. Due to the repetitive nature of sporting events where in a single season dozens of games occur with athletes sporting certain brands this acts in the same way a televised advertising campaign does by repeatedly presenting people with a brand and enticing them to buy it4041. In this case it can be seen that both methods use repetitive advertising yet it must be questioned as to which method is more effective in creating a prolonged effect in consumer brand awareness given the methods they utilize42. When taking into account the oversaturation indicated by Fizel et al. (2008) in their study and how they explain corporate sponsored endorsement deals actually have an increasingly lower aggregate effect (or even no effect) on company profits due to the excessive saturation of endorsement deals it can be assumed that traditional print ads and televised advertising campaigns are superior in their ability to entice customers to purchase products since they have a proven aggregate effect on company profits when utilized effectively as proven by dozens of studies examining the effect of traditional advertising campaigns and their ability to entice consumers4344.

Based on this it must be questioned whether corporate based sponsorships for athletes are even necessary at all since if they have little effect on a company’s market value, their use is oversaturated and if they create short term rather than prolonged brand awareness then it can be seen that their utilization as an effective marketing campaign to increase brand awareness is nothing more than a waste of money on the part of the company.

Problem Discussion

Carison and Donavan (2008) in their examination of trends in product promotion reveal that on average athletes endorse products more so than any other popular culture icon including celebrities (Carison and Donavan, 2008). On average nearly 20 percent of all endorsement ads feature a celebrity while 60 percent of ads in the same category feature athletes, this demonstrates the dominance of athletes as one of the primary tools utilized by companies (especially sports brand companies) in their product promotion strategies (Carison and Donavan, 2008).

Further examination of this trend shows that for various companies nearly 10 percent of all advertising costs are allocated towards endorsement fees for athletes with companies quite literally spending millions of dollars in order to associate their brand with recognizable athletic stars (Carison and Donavan, 2008). This cost is justified when taking into consideration the effect on sales some athlete endorsement contracts have had for companies. For example, in 2006 Tiger Woods signed a multi-year endorsement deal with Nike netting him $105 million in total, the result of his product endorsement though created annual sales of Nike Gold to reach $500 million a year with a growth rate of 24% per year during the first 5 years of the endorsement.

On the other hand when examining the work of Fizel et al. (2008) it is seen that golf athlete endorsement deals actually result in significantly greater returns as compared to non-golf athlete endorsements (Fizel et al., 2008). What this means is that when comparing the rate of return for endorsing a particular athlete golf stars such as Tiger Words create a positive return of investment45. On the other hand when examining the case of other endorsement deals utilizing sports such as basketball it is often seen that endorsement contracts have little if any effect on the market valuation of the company and in effect either result in gaining the exact same amount back in sales or actually result in negative market returns (Fizel et al. 2008).

Based on this data what will be examined by this study is the effect of brand recognition on consumers utilizing the sports of basketball and golf as a method of determining whether consumers retain a certain degree of brand recognition over a period of time or if brand awareness in such cases is limited to short term awareness46. The comparison of the cases of basketball and golf is to be utilized due the data presented by Carison and Donavan (2008) and Fizel et al. (2008) since if it is proven that differing sports results in either prolonged or short term brand awareness it must be determined as to why such a case occurs even though both are spectator sports.

Study Objective

The general objective of the present study is to critically evaluate whether there is a prolonged effect of sponsorship based advertising utilizing athletes and to see whether sports brand recognition continues to be attached to athletes after a set period of time. As such this study will utilize the sports of basketball and golf as a means of evaluating the short/long term effect such sports have on brand awareness and to see if there is if the difference in sporting events results in differing types of brand awareness for consumers.

What must be understood is that companies are under the impression that all endorsement deals result in greater brand awareness, what they should realize based on the work of Fizel et al. (2008) and Carison and Donavan (2008) is that different sports result in differing degrees of brand awareness as well as subtle changes in the way they in which they create short or long term brand recognition47. In regards to this the following will be the specific objectives of the study:

  1. Determine the degree in which brand recognition lasts for basketball and golf.
  2. Discuss whether endorsement deals are an effective means of advertising based on the results of the study.
  3. Attempt to explain why there are differences between basketball and golf in terms of higher/lower levels of prolonged brand recognition.
  4. Formulate appropriate recommendations for the advertising strategies of companies based on the results of the study.

Research Questions

The researcher will examine the case of endorsement deals and sports utilizing the following research questions:

  1. Are viewers able to connect particular athletes to certain brands during a sporting event?
  2. Are viewers able to connect particular athletes to certain brands after a sporting event? How about 2 weeks after?
  3. Is there a prolonged effect of branding awareness for consumers in basketball or golf?
  4. Does sport brand recognition continue to be attached to athletes after a set period of time?
  5. Are traditional methods of advertising such as print ads and commercials more cost effective in terms of the amount of revenue they bring in compared to the millions paid to athletes?
  6. Is there a weaker degree of brand recognition for conventional athletic stars?
  7. To what extent are the differences in brand awareness between golf and basketball?
  8. Based on the data presented why are consumers more likely to adhere to product patronage of brands advertised through golf rather than basketball?
  9. Is the difference in pacing between golf and basketball the reason behind the difference or is there another factor influencing viewer purchasing behavior.

Significance of the Study

The value of this study is in its potential contribution to helping corporations make better advertising decision in relation to whether or not they should utilize endorsement deals or traditional advertising campaigns in their marketing strategies. Due to the oversaturation of endorsement deals in sports marketing today the case presented by researchers such as Fizel et al. (2008) in which they state that endorsement deals are becoming increasingly less effective does make sense when taking into consideration the fact that other studies examining the extent of fans being able to identify which brand to associate to which star athlete show increasingly haphazard results with few fans actually able to properly associate a brand with the athlete that endorses it.

While there are a few exceptions to this case such as sports mega stars Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, etc. in most cases spectators have been shown to inaccurately connect particular brands with athletes48. This is indicative of the fact that endorsement deals are not accomplishing their goal of proper brand advertising and can even be considered a waste of money on the part of corporations49. When taking into consideration the current state of the global economy with a financial recession in the U.S. as well as debt problems in mainland Europe if athletic endorsements are proven to be a form of wasteful spending on the part of corporations then such funds could theoretically be better utilized in creating more jobs for individuals in various communities thus helping to alleviate problems in the current economy.

Another factor that should be taken into consideration is the fact that companies assume that endorsement deals are a sufficient form of brand promotion without taking into consideration the extent of how long awareness of the brand lasts among consumers. Since there have been relatively few studies that have attempted to examine how long brand awareness lasts this study will enable corporations to make informed choices as to whether or not the extent of brand awareness generated through corporate sponsored endorsement deals is worth the amount paid to athletes. The main goal of this study is to help corporations realize that sponsorships are not the most effective means of creating brand awareness.

While it may be true that in previous decades athlete endorsements have netted corporations significant amounts of branding promotion the fact remains that the current oversaturation in the sports marketing industry today with multiple athletes endorsing numerous brands has in effect created a situation where the general public is increasingly finding it difficult to associate one particular brand to athlete50. This results in an ineffective method of advertising that costs the company more than what it actually brings in51.

Methodology

This section aims to provide information on how the study will be conducted and the rationale behind employing the discussed methodologies and techniques towards augmenting the study’s validity. In addition to describing the research design, theoretical framework, and population and sample size that will be used in this study, the section will also elaborate on instrumentation and data collection techniques, validity and reliability, data analysis, and pertinent ethical issues that may emerge in the course of undertaking this study.

Research Design

The present study will utilize a quantitative research design to explore the impact of endorsement deals on consumer brand awareness as measured by the degree of brand recognition over a set period of time. This methodological approach will objectively answer the key research questions. Hopkins (2000) noted most quantitative research designs are concerned with determining the relationship between independent variables and dependent variables in a study framework. In this study, understanding the correlation between brand recognition within the context of athlete endorsement deals and consumer awareness will be instrumental in designing and implementing effective methodologies aimed at improved company decision making processes involving advertising campaigns.

Sekaran (2006) observed most quantitative studies are either descriptive or experimental. The study will utilize a descriptive correlational approach because participants will be measured once. Further, it is imperative to note that the study will employ a survey technique for purposes of collecting participant data from the surrounding areas located near the University as well as the home of researcher.

According to Sekaran, a survey technique is used when the researcher is principally interested in descriptive, explanatory or exploratory appraisal, as is the case in this study. The justification for choosing a survey approach for this particular study is grounded on the fact that participants will have the ability to respond to the data collection tool by way of self-report. This project will utilize a self-administered questionnaire schedule for purposes of data collection.

An analysis of related literature will be used to compare the study findings with other research on athlete endorsement deals and consumer awareness to explain the nature and scope of the associations between the type of endorsement deal utilized and whether it has a short or prolonged effect of generating sufficient brand awareness in consumers. Such analysis, according to Sekaran (2006), is important in identifying the actual constructs that determine efficient advertising because “it goes beyond mere description of variables in a situation to an understanding of the relationships among factors of interest” (p. 119).

Theoretical Framework

Sekaran (2006) noted that a theoretical framework “is a conceptual model of how one theorizes and makes logical sense of the relationships among several factors that have been identified as important to the problem” (p. 87). The elementary function of a theoretical framework is to outline and assess the varied interrelationships that exist between phenomena or variables thought to form a critical constituent of the situational dynamics under study. Sekaran shared that the theoretical framework is modeled around the interrelationship between the independent variables and the dependent variables, in this case considered to be instrumental in examining athlete endorsement deals and current advertising practices and how these variables or constructs influences consumer brand awareness.

The study takes the assumption that athlete endorsements have, as of late, a limited amount of influence on consumer brand awareness due to the sheer proliferation of endorsement deals in sports marketing and the short awareness span that certain endorsement deals have on consumer awareness. While there are exceptions to this as identified by Fizel et al. (2008) and Carison and Donavan (2008) in the form of athlete mega stars and the sport of golf, this study will address this issue by utilizing both conventional athletic stars as well as athlete mega stars in this study with the sports of basketball and golf being compared in order to examine the degree of prolonged product awareness concerning particular athletes in either sport.

It is assumed that by the end of this study will see a clearer perspective as to the degree of product awareness by ordinary consumers that should enable companies to see the inherent wastefulness of some endorsement deals. Furthermore this study will be able to see if the statements of both Fizel et al. (2008) and Carison and Donavan (2008) still hold true today when taking into consideration the changes that have occurred in the sports marketing industry within the past 3 years which may have resulted in subsequent changes in the way consumers perceive particular athletes today52.

In consequence, athlete endorsement deals will become the independent variable while both consumer brand awareness and degree of prolonged brand associated becomes dependent variables. Sekaran (2006) posited that a dependent variable is directly influenced by the independent variable, and is altered either positively or negatively depending on the effect of the self-regulating variable. Based on this description, the study will be guided by the following theoretical schema:

Theoretical Schema Used to Guide the Study
Figure: Theoretical Schema Used to Guide the Study

Instruments

The instruments to be utilized for this study will consist of the following:

  1. One video of the recent Miami Heat versus L.A. Lakers (March 4, 2011)
  2. One video of the March 3 to 6 Honda Classic (Golf Tournament)
  3. Various Youtube based commercials portraying the athletes endorsing certain products
  4. Pictures and videos of athletes outside of their sporting event
  5. List of brands that the athletes are endorsing
  6. One survey questionnaire asking participants to connect brands to athletes immediately after viewing the video.
  7. Another survey questionnaire to be given to participants 1 week after the initial testing period
  8. A finally survey questionnaire 2 weeks after the testing period was completed

The reason behind the 3 questionnaires is to determine the degree of brand connection between athletes and particular brands especially after a certain period of time has elapsed. The reason behind this particular method of instrumentation is due to the fact that since companies utilize endorsement deals as a method of connecting particular athletes to certain brands then it goes without saying that if consumers cannot properly connect brands with certain athletes then endorsement deals are not an effective means of promoting a particular brand.

Other factors this study takes into account is the sheer proliferation of ads featuring athletes and as such it is expected that some athletes featured in this study will have a disproportionately more accurate result than others. It must be noted though that such athletes on average are usually mega star athletes with multiple sports companies utilizing them for brand promotion purposes53.

As such what will be done in the questionnaire is to put the option of allowing the subjects involved in the experiment to attach multiple brands to a single athlete that they think also endorses a particular brand. This is conforming to the study conducted by Fizel et al. (2008) in which they state that the sheer proliferation of ads in the sports marketing industry has resulted in consumers being unable to accurately connect athletes with certain brands

Subjects

The subjects in this study will be recruited from the surrounding areas near the University as well as near the general vicinity of the home of the researcher. All subjects will be picked at random in order to simulate actual market conditions with drinks and refreshments provided during each session so as to compensate for the loss of their time during each session.

Procedure

The procedure for this study is actually quite straightforward, 150 subjects will be picked at random from two different population sets namely those near the University and those near the area of residence of the researcher. All participants will be compensated via free food and drinks in order to participate in the short study. In order to ensure the validity of the results presented the researcher will not inform the research subjects about the main goal of study but rather will inform them they will merely have to fill out a set of online questionnaires from the website “surveymonkey.com” after each video and will be required to participate in two follow up sessions 1 week and 2 weeks after the session.

For the initial session the research subjects will be shown the Miami Heat versus L.A. Lakers game from March 3, 2011. After the video they will be shown various YouTube based clips and pictures showing the athletes endorsing certain products in order to simulate market events as they occur naturally. After both sets of videos and pictures, subjects will be asked to associate particular brands with certain stars as indicated in the questionnaire. The same procedure will follow utilizing the March 3 – 6 Honda classic, a golf competition held in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

The subjects will be shown a video of the tournament after which they will be shown YouTube videos and pictures of the various participants in the tournament endorsing certain products and then they will be asked to fill out a questionnaire asking them to indicate which star is connected with which product. Furthermore throughout the process the researcher will point out the names of each athlete multiple times in order to help the participants gain a better idea of associating names to faces. Various pictures of the stars will also be utilized by being placed on an illustration board so as to help the participants better associate faces with names.

Figure 1

Figure 2

Note* Product endorsements in sporting events refers to the type of athletic equipment athletes are required to use in a sporting event. This takes the form of utilizing only a particular type of shoe, golf club, outfit or sports drink that has the company brand on it.

This study will continue for a total of 3 sessions however it will only be in the first session that participants will be shown the sport event videos, the Youtube advertisements as well as the print ad photos. For the final 2 sessions which will be spread apart by a period of 1 week the subjects in the study will merely be shown an illustration board with the name and face of the athletes utilized in this study however the brands they are associated with will not be shown.

This is to see whether there is a prolonged effect of brand awareness associated with a particular athlete after a set period of time or if consumers are still able to properly attach athletes with brands. It must also be noted that this study takes into account the fact that outside influences in the form of T.V. commercials, print ads and a variety of other forms of advertisement portraying the athletes in this study may influence the participants. This situation is actually ideal since it helps to propagate an actual marketing environment that would help validate the results of the study.

Reliability and Validity

Handley (2005) noted reliability in any research process implies that the same set of data would have been collected each time in repeat examinations of the same variable or phenomenon, otherwise referred to as consistency of measurement. To realize reliability of the study findings, the researcher will certify that items incorporated in the survey schedule will only capture data that are of interest to the broader objectives of the study. The range of measurement of the two sets of the survey schedules will also be adjusted upwards to enhance internal consistency of the study findings. In addition, the researcher will utilize multiple indicators to ensure the collection of objective unabridged data.

Handley (2005) determined validity is a measurement that is used to describe a measure or instrument that correctly reflects the variable or phenomena it is intended to evaluate, thus reinforcing the conclusions, assumptions, and propositions made from the analysis of data. Internal validity, which denotes the soundness of a study or investigation, will be achieved through the establishment of a framework for the application of effective sampling techniques and employing a validated and reliable survey schedule for the propose of data collection. The same procedures in combination with the recruitment of a representative sample size will be used to achieve external validity, thus ensuring that the study findings can be generalized to other settings.

Questionnaire Utilized

The Questionnaire can be access via the following link

Dear Participants,

Thank you for your participation in this research study! Please follow the instructions as they are indicated below so as to expedite the process of completing this questionnaire. Below you will see a list of several athletes that you have recently watched through the events, videos and pictures presented.

Questionnaire Utilized

Note* There can be multiple selections for one athlete

Questionnaire Utilized

Thank you for completing the questionnaire! Please stay a while; the facilitator of this session would like to ask a few pertinent questions regarding the current exercise and your opinions, Thank you!

Study Results

Accuracy of Brand/Athlete Association of Research Subjects

Results Portraying Degree of Respondent Accuracy When Completing Questionnaires during the 1st, 2ND and 3RD Week Sessions of Brand Connection

Golf

Golf

Lakers

Lakers

Heat

Heat

Discussion and Conclusion

Discussion

The results of the study show that over a 3-week analysis period the subjects in the study had a decreasing rate of brand association with athletes, this held true for both the sports of basketball and golf. What was interesting to note though was the fact that while there were distinct levels of decrease in identification for all athletes utilized in this study big name athletes in basketball actually experienced a significantly lower level of decrease compared to contemporary players. In the study what was done was to use 2 athlete mega stars in each line up composition, which was then subsequently combined with 2 conventional athletic stars in the same team for basketball while there were 3 mega stars in the lineup for golf and only 2 conventional players.

The results showed that conventional athletes that endorsed certain products created a significantly lower level of brand awareness connected to them over a prolonged period of time as compared to big name athletes. In the case of the sport of golf there were steep declines in all cases but the results similarly showed that big name athletes created a slower level of product association inaccuracy over a given time as compared conventional athletes.

It must be noted though that in all cases presented in this study there were product association declines which means that given a set period of time between when subjects are exposed to an athlete endorsing a product to when they are not it is likely that subjects will eventually be unable to properly associate athletes with certain products after a certain length of time.

It must also be noted that during the initial session the participants in the study were able to have a higher brand association accuracy rate with big name athletes as compared to conventional athletes. It was seen both in the case of golf and basketball that for conventional athletes the study participants were barely able to reach a 60% accuracy rate in associating brands with certain athletes during the initial session with steep declines thereafter during the 2nd and 3rd sessions.

On the other hand for athlete mega stars such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter the degree of product association accuracy was much higher during the initial sessions often reaching 80% or more in certain cases. Not only that it was also seen that the slope of the degree of inaccuracy for athlete megastars was not as steep compared to the slopes of conventional athletes which showed a very steep downward slope in product association accuracy. During the 2nd and 3rd session questionnaires the study participants were asked what influenced their accuracy of their answers the most, the participants responded that the fame of participants factored heavily into their answers with several of the respondents actually being professed fans of several of the big name athletes featured in this study.

What was curious about this study was that it did not reflect the same results as the Fizel et al. (2008) study where it was noted that golf should have had a higher product association response rate as compared to basketball. When trying to examine the reasons behind this the researcher could only assume that the differing results was due to different types of demographics utilized in both studies. For this particular research study what was utilized was a distinctly younger demographic as compared to the Fizel et al. (2008) study which most likely factored heavily into the differing results. As such based on the results of this study it cannot be stated that consumers are likely to adhere to product patronage through golf endorsements rather than basketball endorsements but rather the type of athlete endorsing the product is more likely to factor into the creation of sufficient brand awareness.

Conclusion

Based on the results of the study it can be seen that over a prolonged period of time brand recognition utilizing athletes continues to decrease with conventional athletes showing a marked increase in product disassociation compared to big name athletic stars. Given the decrease in brand association it can be stated that the use of athletic endorsement deals as a means of advertising can only be effective if big name athletic stars are utilized, in cases where conventional athletes are used the degree of brand recognition has a markedly lower rate which indicates an ineffective method of advertising.

It must also be noted though that given the decrease in brand association for popular athletic stars and the fact that athletes are not always in the public spot light this shows that endorsement deals do not provide a continuous stream of brand exposure which makes it a less than ideal method of advertising. While it may be true that numerous studies support the practice based on the results shown by stars such as LeBron James and Tiger Woods the fact remains that such cases are exceptions to the rule with a vast majority of cases showing a market decrease in brand association.

Appendix

Appendix

Appendix

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Footnotes

  1. ‘on a roll Brian Maxwell’, Advertising Age, 68, 34, 1997, p. 16
  2. Thomaselli, R , ‘James’ Coke deal sets new endorser standard’, Advertising Age, 74, 34,2003, pp. 3-25
  3. STUART, E, ‘ADVERTISING; Gay Athletes Slowly Enter the Endorsement Arena’, New York Times, 2007
  4. ‘Pepsi Makes Heavy Play In Sports Marketing Field’, Brandweek, 49, 9,2008, p. 14
  5. Friedman, W, ‘Pro Player shifts focus to capture hard-core fans’, Advertising Age, 70, 41,1999, p. 32
  6. K Yeung-Jo & N June-Hee , ‘Effects of celebrity athlete endorsement on attitude towards the product: the role of credibility, attractiveness and the concept of congruence’, International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship, 8, 4, 2007, pp. 310-320
  7. Yeung-Jo, K, & June-Hee, N 2007
  8. Chia-Chen, Y, ‘Athlete endorsement in the international sports industry: a case study of David Beckham’, International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship, 6, 3, 2005, pp. 189-199
  9. Ackerman, E, ‘She kicks. She scores. She sells’, U.S. News & World Report, 127, 4,1999, p. 42
  10. ‘Endorsement Ban Stays, NCAA Says’ , National On-Campus Report, 32, 18, 2004, p. 4
  11. Cianfrone, B, & Zhang, J, ‘Differential Effects of Television Commercials, Athlete Endorsements, and Venue Signage During a Televised Action Sports Event’, Journal of Sport Management, 20, 3, 2006,pp. 322-344
  12. Ibid
  13. Lefton, T, ‘Keeping up with Smith’, Brandweek, 37, 39,1996, p. 27
  14. Ibid
  15. Michael, M n.d., ‘Athletes on the outs in ads’, USA Today, n.d.
  16. Swift, EM, ‘PAUL & MORGAN HAMM’, Sports Illustrated, 101, 4, 2004, pp. 98-101
  17. Grimm, M, ‘Endorsers a two-edged sword’, Brandweek, 35, 23,1994, p. 8
  18. Bayers, C, ‘Of Dogs and Tigers’, MediaWeek, 21, 1,2011, p. 14
  19. Keegan, P, ‘INSTA-ENDORSEMENTS’, Fortune, 162, 3,2010, p. 19,
  20. Ibid
  21. Clark, K, ‘Olympic hype and glory’, U.S. News & World Report, 129, 12,2000, p. 56
  22. Michael, M n.d., ‘Crisis management is an unfamiliar game for Woods’, USA Today, n.d.
  23. Charbonneau, J, & Garland, R, ‘Celebrity or athlete? New Zealand advertising practitioners’ views on their use as endorsers’, International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship, 7, 1, 2005, pp. 35-41,
  24. Stuart, E, ‘THE MEDIA BUSINESS: Advertising; In the competition among professional athletes for commercial endorsements, N.B.A. stars rule’, New York Times, 1994
  25. Finkel, B, ‘Who’s the Next Tiger Woods?’, BusinessWeek.com,2010, p. 14
  26. Newman, D, ‘Power 100: Methodology’, BusinessWeek.com, 2011 p. 5
  27. Thomaselli, R, ‘Despite jitters, sponsors of Phelps & Co. reap rewards’, Advertising Age, 75, 35, 2004, p. 8
  28. ‘Hero Worship Is Misplaced’, New York Times, 2009
  29. Lantz, C, & Schroeder, P, ‘Endorsement of Masculine and Feminine Gender Roles: Differences Between Participation In and..’, Journal of Sport Behavior, 22, 4,1999 p. 545
  30. STUART, E, ‘BASKETBALL; Athletes’ Endorsements May Now Be in Doubt’, New York Times,1991, 8
  31. Jensen, J, ‘Winning isn’t everything’, Advertising Age, 66, 6, 1995, pp. 1-8
  32. Spethmann, B, ‘Energizing the stars’, Brandweek, 37, 27, 1996, p. 14
  33. Jenish, D, ‘Looking out for number 1. (Cover story)’, Maclean’s, 104, 2, 1991,p. 42
  34. Swatek, K, ‘Power 100: Supermodel Super Boost?’, BusinessWeek.com,2011, p. 5,
  35. Hiltbrand, D, ‘Athletes have been doing commercial endorsements..’, People, 39, 23, 1993, p. 13
  36. Janoff, B, ‘T-Mobile, Nike Don’t Bend When Barkley Pushes the Envelope’, Brandweek, 48, 40, 2007, p. 12
  37. Sitch, R, ‘Sitch’, BRW, 18, 30, 1996, p. 82
  38. Hein, K, ‘A Broken Field of Marketing Dreams’, Brandweek, 44, 27,2003, p. 6
  39. Simons, J, & Mallory, M, ‘Look out, Jordan; Tiger’s loose’, U.S. News & World Report, 122, 16, 1997, p. 56
  40. Reyes, S, ‘Cytomax Takes a Run At Gatorade, Powerade’, Brandweek, 46, 26,2005, p. 20
  41. DAVID, T, ‘CELEBRITY MATCHMAKER: Marty Blackman Marrying Athletes and Endorsements’, New York Times, 1988
  42. ‘Callaway Marketing Plan Goes the Distance’, Brandweek, 47, 27,2006, p. 9
  43. Cohen, NN, ‘The Sport’ 100 salary survey’, Sport, 80, 6, 1989, p. 75
  44. Klein, A, ‘2-Sport Athlete Escalates Challenge to NCAAby Signing a Deal to Appear in Fitness Ads’, Chronicle of Higher Education, 50, 24,2004, p. A32
  45. Glenn, C, ‘Jordan Again Leads Athlete-Endorsers’, New York Times, 1996
  46. Comte, EE, ‘Corporate America’s team. (Cover story)’, Sport, 81, 6,1990, p. 80
  47. Thomson, J, ‘Money games’, BRW, 25, 49, 2003, pp. 104-111
  48. ‘Gold medal sales appeal’, American Fitness, 12, 3, 1994, p. 14
  49. Bechtel, M, & Kennedy, K, ‘For The Record’, Sports Illustrated, 100, 4,2004, p. 24
  50. Janoff, B, ‘Reebok Gives Nike (and adidas) A Run for Their Money’, Brandweek, 48, 18, 2007, p. 12
  51. King, K, Kennedy, K, & Deitsch, R, ‘Cashing Out’, Sports Illustrated, 97, 12, 2002, p. 32
  52. Bamberger, M, Kim, A, & Mravic, M, ‘MINING WOODS FOR GOLD’, Sports Illustrated, 93, 12,2000, p. 27
  53. ‘Abstracts’ , International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship, 8, 4,2007, p. 288
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