Mega-special-event properties (sponsees) have the ability to attain significant resources through sponsorship by offering exclusive promotional opportunities that target sizeable consumer markets and attract sponsors. The Super Bowl, one of the most watched television programs in the world, was selected as the mega-special-event for this study as it provides a rare environment where a portion of the television audience tunes in specifically for the purpose of watching new and entertaining commercials. A longitudinal analysis of consumer opinion related to the 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006 Super Bowls provides empirical evidence that questions the ability of Super Bowl sponsorship to influence the sales of sponsor offerings. Results pertaining to consumers’ intent to purchase sponsors’ products—one of the most sought after metrics in relating sponsorship effectiveness to sales—demonstrate that levels of intent-to-purchase inspired by sponsorship of the Super Bowl is relatively low and, most importantly, that increases are not being achieved over time. These findings have implications for both mega-sponsees and their sponsors as well as media enterprise diffusing mega-special-events.
O’Reilly is with the School of Sports Administration, Faculty of Management, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Canada P3E 2C6. Lyberger is with the School of Exercise, Leisure and Sport, Kent State University, Kent, OH 44242. McCarthy is with the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ 07079. Séguin is with the School of Human Kinetics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1N 6N5. Nadeau is with the School of Business and Economics, Nipissing University, North Bay, Ontario, Canada P1B 8L7.