Despite the popularity of sponsorship-linked marketing programs, we know little about how firms form sponsorship policies. This article describes a corporate identity-sponsorship policy link and offers empirical support for it via a mixed method research design. Content analysis of 146 Fortune 500 companies’ online sponsorship policies and mission statements is followed by cluster, factor and multinomial regression techniques. Results show that corporate identity, as reflected in mission statements, matters to sponsorship policy. Specifically, companies emphasizing financial success in their mission statements prefer to sponsor individual athletes, education, the environment and health-related activities. Alternatively, companies stressing the importance of employees demonstrate a propensity to sponsor team sports, entertainment, religious, community, charity and business related activities. Reasons for these strategic differences are discussed.
Cunningham and Coote are with the University of Queensland Business School, University of Queensland, Australia. Cornwell is with the Sport Management Program, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109.