In total 15 articles are identified for the section of sport marketing and sponsorship with eight of them devoted to the theme of sport sponsorship, and the rest to other sport marketing topics. A breakdown of themes and topics can be found in Table 1. Written by 44 authors from 32 institutions in 13 countries, these articles come from five journals with 7 from IJSMS, 3 from SMR, 2 each from JSM and ESMQ, and one from JGSM. In this section of the Sport Management Digest, an overview of these publications will be offered with nine of them being reviewed in more details.
Table 1, Selected Publication in Sport Marketing and Sponsorship
|Sport sponsorship||Sponsorship effects and determinants||
Bjerke & Elvekrok (2021) *
Pontes, Pontes, Jin and Mahar (2021) *
Kwak and Pradhan (2021) *
Lee and Suh (2021) *
Lu , Zhu & Wei,2021
Santos, Moreno, Gasco & Lizama (2021)
|Ambush marketing||Geurin & Erin L. McNary (2021) *||1|
|Sponsorship decision making||Schönberner, Woratschek and Ellert (2021) *||1|
|Sport marketing||Consumer behaviour||
Jang, Wu and Wen (2021) *
Stroebel, Woratschek & Durchholz (2021) *
Happ, Choll-Grissemann, Peters & Schnitzer (2021)
Behnam, Pyun, Doyle &Delshab (2021)
Paek, Morse, Hutchinson & Lim (2021)
Book and Eden’s (2021) *
Zhang, Kim, Xing (2021)
Note: * Articles reviewed in detail
1. Sport sponsorship
The majority of articles (6 out of 8), under the theme of sport sponsorship, have the aim to assess the influence of various factors on sponsorship effect through empirical studies. This resonates with the sustained research interest in this topic over the past decades in the extant literature. Among them, Pontes, Pontes, Jin and Mahar (2021) examine three factors influencing sponsorship effectiveness, namely audience perceptions of sincerity regarding sponsor motives, fans team identification, and perceived fit. While all three factors have been been identified in previous research, this study contributes to the literature by demonstrating that the effect of sponsorship articulation on perceived fit is mediated by perceived sponsor sincerity and moderated by a fan’s level of team identification, thus offering novel insight into the processing of sponsorship fit articulation, and providing guidance to sport managers looking to improve sponsorship effectiveness. Kwak and Pradhan (2021) also investigate the role of team identification, but the focus is on how fans with different levels of identification respond to different advertisements by a sponsor of a losing team. They find that advertisements acknowledging the loss and touting the positive value of the identity will be more favorably viewed by high identifiers than low identifiers. However, advertisements not featuring the losing team will be evaluated more favorably by low identifiers than high identifiers. As a result, they suggest that sponsors should consider different messaging strategies depending on the level of team identification with the losing team.
Lee and Suh (2021) seek to explore the relationship between the severity of a sports-related accident and sponsorship effects, which is also the first known empirical research using the fear appeal theory (Hastings, Stead, & Webb, 2004) in sports sponsorship. Like the previous two articles, their study also uses an experimental design, and the results show that sponsorship effects are maximized in a minor injury condition, while smaller sponsorship effects are garnered in the absence of an accident or during fatal injury conditions. The implication is that sponsors do not necessarily have to worry about the dangers of injury unless they are fatal.
While most of the selected articles investigate sponsorship from the perspective of marketing or branding targeting external audience, Bjerke and Elvekrok (2021) turn their attention to sponsorship effect on internal employees and their well-being. Applying a case methodology with data collected through both semi-structured interviews and a survey, they examine the influence a sport sponsorship-based health care programme targeted at employees may have on employee motivation to do physical activity. The findings show that the user-friendliness of the health-care portal, and the attitude towards the programme are significant predictors of employees’ sponsorship-based motivation to do physical exercises, thus offering insight for sponsors in terms of the use of sponsorship as a strategic tool to improve employee wellness.
In addition to discussion on sponsorship effects and contributing factors, two other topics are addressed by the selected articles, i.e. ambush marketing and sponsorship decision making (see Table 1). In particular, informed by agency theory and based on a three-round Delphi study, Schönberner, Woratschek and Ellert (2021) look at sponsorship decision making process from sponsor managers perspective. They not only reveal 12 different personal objectives of sport managers underlying sponsorship decision-making, empirically confirming for the first time the existence of a hidden agenda behind sponsorship decisions, but also shed light on the possible effects of such a hidden agenda on achieving sponsoring company’s objectives.
2. Sport marketing
Of the seven articles under the theme of sport marketing, five focus on consumer behaviors, and the other two examine city marketing through sports. Using self-construal as a key theoretical framework (Ellis & Wittenbaum,2000), Jang, Wu and Wen (2021) first identify two different types of meaningful sports consumption (MSC) from either a self-or an other-oriented perspective, they then investigate how those MSC would determine the feelings and behaviors of sports consumers differently through an experimental study. Their study extends the literature by revealing new insight into the role of meaningful sports consumption in understanding sports consumer behavior. In another article, Stroebel, Woratschek & Durchholz (2021) study merchandising and fan behaviour. In contrast to the majority of existing literature where merchandising treated as a dependent variable either as an objective or measurement of team identification, they examine merchandising as an antecedent of fan behavior determinants. Through a quantitative survey with data collected from German basketball fans, the study demonstrate that team merchandise can be a catalyst for team identification and loyalty, and thus can be used as a tool to influence fan behavior.
Of the two articles under the sub theme of ‘city marketing through sport’. Book and Eden’s (2021) study seeks to examine how community sports can be integrated into the development and marketing of a city, by using skateboarding in Swedish Malmo as an in-depth case study. It is noteworthy that, by using a communicative co-constructed method inspired by co-constructed auto-ethnography and para-ethnography, the co-authors (one scholar and one practitioner within the skateboarding field) managed to reveal how a multilevel approach founded in shared values and mutual benefits through user-driven partnerships has been essential and instrumental in successfully establishing Malmo as an internationally renowned skate-boarding city. The study sheds new light on the importance of combining top-down and bottom-up approaches in urban development and city marketing, by highlighting the positive interaction between grassroots initiative and municipality.
This review shows that sport marketing and sponsorship has been a field that continues to garner scholarly attention, and some of the enduring topics, such as sponsorship effects and determinants, consumer behaviors, and city marketing through sports, have spurred the most interests among scholars. While quantitative research with data collected through surveys or experiments featuring positivism is still the dominant approach, it can be seen that the use of novel research methods such as co-constructed auto-ethnography and para-ethnography have the potential to produce new insights into sports marketing inquiries. Finally, a strong link between research and practice can also be observed with many scholars making clear efforts to inform industry practice and policy making.
Ellis, J. B., & Wittenbaum, G. M. (2000). Relationships between self-construal and verbal promotion. Communication Research, 27, 704–722.
Hastings, G., Stead, M., & Webb, J. (2004). Fear appeals in social marketing: strategic and ethical reasons for concern, Psychology and Marketing, 21（11), 961-986.
4. Annotated bibliography
Bjerke, R., & Elvekrok, I. (2021). Sponsorship-based health care programs and their impact on employees’ motivation for physical activity. European Sport Management Quarterly, 21(2), 194-217. doi:10.1080/16184742.2020.1735471.
The authors aim to explore the impact of a health care portal and employee attitude toward a health care program on sponsorship-based employee motivation to do physical exercises. It is a case study design using Aker， a Norwegian company，as an example with data collected through semi-structured interviews and surveys among its employees. The results show that both the portal and attitude toward the program have a significant influence on sponsorship-based motivation to do physical exercises. These findings contribute to the sport sponsorship on internal activation and provide practical implications for sponsors to strategically improve health-care of employees. However, as a case study, the findings may not be generalized to other populations and contexts.
Book, K., & Edén, G. S. (2021). Malmö–the skateboarding city: a multi-level approach for developing and marketing a city through user-driven partnerships. International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship, 22:(1), 164-178. doi:10.1108/IJSMS-05-2020-0101
The authors aim to explore how skateboarding is integrated into and drives the development and marketing of the city of Malmo. Author 1, the scholar and outsider, is responsible for building conceptualization and writing discussion and conclusion. And his co-author, the practitioner and insider, narrates experience related to the research questions to generate empirical data. They find the success of skateboarding story of Malmo fits into the conceptualization and the unique feature is the consistent, constructive partnerships between the municipality and user groups. It is suggested that the experience of Malmo could be replicated in other cities.
Jang, W., Wu, L., & Wen, J. (2021). Understanding the effects of different types of meaningful sports consumption on sports consumers' emotions, motivations, and behavioral intentions. Sport Management Review, 24(1), 46-68. doi:10.1016/j.smr.2020.07.002
Adopting a self-construal framework as the theoretical foundation to identify different types of meaningful sports consumption (MSC) from either a self- or an other- oriented perspective, the authors seek to examine how these MSC uniquely determine the feelings and behaviors of consumers in different ways. Through experimental studies, they conclude that sports consumers experience different types of affective responses, self-transcendent emotions, motivations, and behavioral consequences, depending on the type of sports consumption, and the self-construal mindset.
Kwak, D. H., & Pradhan, S. (2021). “If You Ain’t First, You’re Last!” Understanding Identity Threat, Team Identification, and Advertisement Messages When Your Favorite Team Loses. Journal of Sport Management, 35(2), 158-171. doi:10.1123/jsm.2019-0445
The authors aim to explore how sport consumers respond to sponsor advertisements featuring a team that loses a pivotal game. With data collected from three experimental studies, they find that advertisements acknowledging the loss and touting the positive value of the identity will be more favorably viewed by high identifiers than low identifiers. However, advertisements not featuring the losing team will be evaluated more favorably by low identifiers than high identifiers. This study contributes to sport marketing literature and suggest that sponsors should consider to adjust their advertisements depending on the level of team identification with the losing team.
Lee, S., & Suh, Y. I. (2021). The severity of a sports-related accident and sponsorship effects: focusing on the fear appeal theory. International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship, 22(2), 293-311. doi:10.1108/IJSMS-08-2019-0086
The authors, researchers from the Korea Aerospace University and University of West Georgia, use experiment studies with data collected from university students to examine how the severity of accidents occurring during sporting events impacts the effectiveness of sponsorship (brand recognition, attitude toward the brand, purchase intention). They find that sponsorship effects are maximized in a minor injury condition, while smaller sponsorship effects are garnered in the absence of an accident or during fatal injury conditions, which is in line with the fear appeals theory.The implication is that sponsors do not necessarily have to worry about the dangers of accidents unless they are fatal.
Pontes, N., Pontes, V., Jin, H. S., & Mahar, C. (2021). The Role of Team Identification on the Sponsorship Articulation–Fit Relationship. Journal of Sport Management, 35(2), 117-129. doi:10.1123/jsm.2019-0401
The authors examine three factors, i.e. audience perceptions of sincerity regarding sponsor motives, fans team identification, and perceived fit, and how they would impact sponsorship effectiveness. With data collected from three studies comprising two experiments, this study not only confirms the moderating role of team identification in the articulation–fit relationship, but also shows that this effect is mediated by perceived sponsor sincerity. This study makes contributions to sport management scholarship with novel insight into the processing of sponsorship fit articulation, and can thus inform practice by providing guidance to managers looking to spend their sponsorship budget more effectively.
Schönberner, J., Woratschek, H., & Ellert, G. (2021). Hidden agenda in sport sponsorship – the influence of managers' personal objectives on sport sponsorship decisions. Sport Management Review, 24(2), 204-225. doi:10.1016/j.smr.2020.07.001
The authors, researchers from University of Bayreuth and Macromedia University of Applied Sciences, investigate corporate objectives and managers’ personal objectives for sponsorship, and their influence on sport sponsorship decision-making. Through a three-round qualitative Delphi study with data collected from 18 participants who were involved in sponsorship decision-making through purposive sampling, they identify 16 corporate objectives and 12 personal objectives underlying sponsorship decision-making. In addition, they confirm the existence of hidden agenda that might influence the sponsorship decision-making process in all steps and stages.
Stroebel, T., Woratschek, H., & Durchholz, C. (2021). Clothes make the fan: the effect of team merchandise usage on team identification, fan satisfaction and team loyalty. Journal of global sport management, 6(2), 185-202. doi:10.1080/24704067.2018.1531354
The authors, researchers at the University of Bern and University of Bayreuth, use data collected from fans of top basketball league in Germany to analyze the relevance of team merchandise usage to fan behavior determinants. In contrast to the majority of existing literature where merchandising is treated as a dependent variable either as an objective or measurement of team identification, they examine merchandising as an antecedent of fan behavior determinants. The results suggest that team merchandise can be a catalyst for team identification and loyalty, and thus can be used as a tool to influence fan behavior.