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Norm O’Reilly and Twan Huybers

As an accepted tool in the promotional mix of organizations, sponsorship and sport sponsorship have become everyday marketing practice, in which sponsors invest in sponsees in return for marketing value. The implementation, or fulfillment, as it is often called in practice, of a sponsorship involves three main activities: activation, evaluation and servicing. While the literature has investigated both activation and evaluation, work in the area of servicing is limited. Guided by a sponsorship-linked marketing lens, a longitudinal study of sponsorship organizations was undertaken followed by a best-worst scaling experiment. Longitudinal results inform us that sponsees are underservicing sponsors; however, the best-worst scaling experiment finds a reduced gap. Results illustrate that although gaps between importance and performance perceptions are relatively small for sponsors, sponsees and agencies, a mixed pattern of agreement and disagreement exists between each of the three respondent groups in relation to the specific importance and performance dimensions.

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Gary Pasqualicchio, Norm O’Reilly, and Ed Elowson

For years, sport properties and corporate sponsors have struggled to develop strategies to activate their expansive partnerships, particularly those without high-ranking national media coverage. This case analyzes a successful, multilayered sponsorship activation tied to the 2012 retirement of Philadelphia Eagles star Brian Dawkins. The Eagles, in partnership with AAA and Marvel, created and promoted a unique weekend around Dawkins’ retirement that included a NASCAR race, an NFL Sunday Night Football Game, and a meet-and-greet with Dawkins; this weekend was marketed extensively across various modes of media. The partners’ goals were to engage 7 million regionally-based Eagles fans, not just the 70,000 fans who would witness Dawkins’ retirement ceremony inside Lincoln Financial Field during the game. This case illustrates how the partners came together to achieve common goals, using Dawkins’ image, presence, and positive affinity with Eagles fans. The case details sponsorship and activation trends, the activation ratio, and other examples of sponsorship activation tied to athlete retirement. The case asks students to take what they have learned about sponsorship activation and analyze the Dawkins retirement, discussing what was successful, what was not, and what could be done for future sponsorship activations in similar situations.

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Norm O’Reilly, Alana Gattinger, and Elisa Beselt

This case focuses on the sponsorship sales aspect of the 2013 International Triathlon Union World Duathlon Championships in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The case outlines the process of acquiring the right to host the event and creating/implementing a sponsorship sales strategy for the event. The case provides background on the sport of duathlon and the city of Ottawa’s capacity to host an international sport event of this level. This case recognizes that securing sponsorship is a major challenge that many small sport organizations and sport events face. Strategies are presented to show how these sport organizations can actively promote their offerings to overcome this challenge. Intended for graduate and undergraduate students in sport management, event management, and marketing, information for this case was obtained from interviews with event staff, secondary research, and documentation provided by the event organizing committee. It will be necessary for students to use critical thinking to provide feedback to the organizing committee about how they can target and acquire sponsors for the 2013 International Triathlon Union World Duathlon Championships.

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Michael Alcorn, Gashaw Abeza, and Norm O’Reilly

Rebecca Griffin, a student-athlete, is coming off the best off-season training program of her 8 years as a rower. She is highly motivated knowing that a strong summer season could propel her to be both a major contributor to her university team in the fall and a contender to make it to the National Under 23 team. However, before she can pursue her athletic dreams, she needs to decide where she is going to row this summer and figure out if she can afford to pay for it. She needs to assess and consider the benefits and drawbacks of her summer rowing club options. Her considerations include club registration fees, travel, equipment, coaching, and competition entry costs for each, and how they will contribute to her career goals in rowing. Therefore, while working toward her goals, Rebecca must consider the affordability of her options, and make the best decision she can.

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Chris Gibbs, Norm O’Reilly, and Michelle Brunette

Without exception, all professional sport teams in North America use social media to communicate with fans. Sport communication professionals use Twitter as one of the strategic tools of engagement, yet there remains a lack of understanding about how users are motivated and gratified in their Twitter use. Drawing on a specific sample from the Twitter followers of the Canadian Football League, the researchers used semistructured in-depth interviews, content analysis, and an online survey to seek an understanding of what motivates and satisfies Twitter followers of professional sport teams, measured through the gratifications sought and the fulfillment of these motives through the perceived gratifications obtained. The results add to the sport communications literature by finding 4 primary gratifications sought by Twitter users: interaction, promotion, live game updates, and news. Professional sport teams can improve strategic fan engagement by better understanding how Twitter followers use and seek gratification in the social-media experience.

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Gashaw Abeza, Norm O’Reilly, and John Nadeau

Sport and communication have existed since humans began interacting with one another, with organized sport and planned communication formalized for hundreds of years. However, social science scholars have only taken a high-level of interest in sport communication over the past decade. Over the past 10 years, much has been written and researched in the field, and its formalization continues, justifying a need for a review of its current status and the articulation of its future directions. Thus, this article identifies and critically discusses the developments in the field of sport communication in terms of its academic infrastructures and the resulting body of knowledge. It also assesses how the field’s developments are affecting scholarly advancements and identifies areas of “disciplinary pain.” The work concludes by providing suggestions for future research.

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Gashaw Abeza, Norm O’Reilly, and Benoit Seguin

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Gashaw Abeza, Norm O’Reilly, and Ian Reid

Relationship marketing (RM) is about retaining customers through the achievement of long-term mutual satisfaction by businesses and their customers. Sport organizations, to retain customers by establishing, maintaining, and enhancing relationships, need to communicate and engage in dialogue with their customers. To achieve this on an ongoing basis, sport organizations need to employ effective communication platforms. In this regard, social media (SM) is becoming an ideal tool for a continuing 2-way dialogue. However, the effects of SM, primarily in terms of addressing RM goals, are not yet well understood. This study explores the opportunities and challenges facing managers in sport organizations in using SM in an RM strategy. Eight case studies were undertaken on organizations that put on running events. The article presents the findings on the use, opportunities, and challenges of SM and recommendations encouraging continued investigation.

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Lilian Pichot, Gary Tribou, and Norm O’Reilly

Successful sponsorship activities in sport often rely on the integration of relationship marketing, internal marketing, external corporate promotion, and strategic management. Although traditional marketing objectives such as brand integration and consumer targeting remain key components of promotional activities in sport, the use of sport sponsorship in today’s environment increasingly implicates personnel issues in the both the sponsor and the sponsee. In fact, sport sponsorship has become a useful tool for some sponsors and sponsees who seek to motivate and involve their employees more in company activities. Therefore, the focus of this commentary is on the internal-communication and human-resources management functions involved in sport sponsorship decisions. The use of mini-case analyses and a dual-perspective (external and internal objectives) approach allows for informed discussion, and suggestions are made for future research.

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Gashaw Abeza, Norm O’Reilly, and Jessica R. Braunstein-Minkove

Relational perspectives have influenced marketing theory and practice over the past 40 years, with a volume of relationship marketing (RM) research accumulating over this time. In sport management specifically, a number of RM research articles have been published since the late 1990s. Although an influx has been seen, a review of said literature informs us that RM is a diverse field with no single best explanation, no clear domain and scope, and no universally accepted definition and that, most particularly, the literature is a melting pot of various concepts. This circumstance creates frustration and confusion among new researchers. Additionally, as strategic communication strategies rely on clear and consistent messaging, it is pivotal to holistically address the issue. Therefore, adopting an integrative literature review approach, this commentary revisits the RM scholarship to present, brings attention to the complex nature of the RM literature, and identifies a point of departure for researchers attempting to find a fitting “home” for their research.