Sponsorship has become a major source of funding for special and on-going sporting events. However, sponsors may question return on their investment in such events. Managers may find that potential sponsors are reluctant to invest in sporting activities as a result. This paper addresses the issue of return on investment by monitoring reaction to a sponsor's promotional efforts in an experimental setting. In the context offered by a hypothetical nonprofit sporting event, participants were randomly assigned to groups who received (a) basic information about the sponsor, (b) discount coupons offered by the sponsor, and (c) trial samples of the sponsor's product (pizza). Those who received the product trial responded most positively to the sponsorship message. They rated the sponsor's product in more positive terms and were more likely to intend to purchase that product within the next month. Conversely, promotions that presented only logos, sponsor's telephone numbers, slogans or coupons generally failed to alter perceptions of the product or sponsor.
Ronald E. McCarville, Christopher M. Flood, and Tabatha A. Froats are with the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies at the University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada, N2L 3G1.