Many owners of fast food franchises use sport sponsorship as a means of penetrating their local market area. The purpose of this paper is to examine how these franchisees make decisions about sponsorship requests that allow them to enhance their own position within their local market while at the same time ensuring the consistency and continuity of image that successful fast food chains require. Data were collected from interviews with representatives of 11 fast food companies, from articles in the trade literature, and from company documents. Ranging on a continuum from total franchisee control of decision making to a situation in which the autonomy of the local outlet is eliminated, three approaches to making decisions about sponsoring sport teams and events were identified: the independent approach, the communal approach, and the controlled approach. The structure and corporate culture of the restaurant chain are shown to be significant factors influencing the way decisions about sport sponsorship are made.
Laura Cousens and Trevor Slack are with the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, The University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 2H9, Canada.