Managing corporate brand image through sports sponsorship: impacts of sponsorship on building consumer perceptions of corporate ability and social responsibility
Theorists and practitioners in advertising have long agreed with the notion that a well-executed sports sponsorship program can contribute to the image of a corporation. However, an integrated attempt to formulate theory, and test hypotheses, with respect to the impact of sponsorship, has been lacking. With this problem in mind, this dissertation explored “how” and “why” sports sponsorship affects the image of a corporate sponsor. Specifically, three studies are presented to understand the relationships among the perceptions of event characteristics, perceived sponsorship costs/benefits, and the cognitive component of the sponsor image – corporate ability (CA) and corporate social responsibility (CSR) beliefs. A series of surveys was performed in Study 1 and Study 2 to examine the factor structures of the key constructs of interest. It turned out that four factors underlay the perceptions of event characteristics – promotional capability, media/audience attraction, vi venue attractiveness, and the professionalism of the players; three factors underlay CA beliefs – product quality, financial performance and technological innovativeness; and two factors underlay CSR beliefs – community support and customer sensitivity. Drawing from signal theory and attribution theory, a series of hypotheses was developed in Study 3 to test two causal models that explicated the relationships among the four dimensions of event characteristics, perceived sponsorship costs/benefits, and each dimension of CA/CSR beliefs. Consistent with the notion of signal theory, three of the four dimensions of event characteristics (i.e., promotional capability, media/audience attraction and professionalism of players) positively affected each dimension of CA beliefs (i.e., financial performance, product quality and technological innovativeness), through the mediation of perceived sponsorship costs. Also, consistent with the notion of attribution theory, two of the four dimensions of event characteristics (i.e., promotional capability and media/audience attraction) negatively affected each dimension of CSR beliefs (i.e., community support and customer sensitivity), through the mediation of perceived sponsorship benefits. The results of this dissertation suggest that practitioners can choose different sporting events for a sponsorship deal to create different images of a corporation that they want the public to hold, and thereby, can control the outcome of sports sponsorship. Implications and contributions, limitations and directions for future research are discussed.