That VIP feeling: Activation, measurement techniques and best practices in sport sponsorship

Spencer C. Wellington, Grants Accountant, Food & Friends, Inc., Artemisia Apostolopoulou, University Professor of Sport Management and Marketing, and David P. Synowka, Professor and Department Head of Sport Management, Robert Morris University

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Abstract: The primary goal of this research was to examine current trends in sport sponsorship, particularly in the areas of goal setting, sponsorship activation and assessment of sponsorship effectiveness. The secondary goal was to identify best practices in sport sponsorship. Sponsorship executives representing North American professional sport properties, corporate partners and third-party agencies participated in in-depth interviews. Data was content analysed to produce information in three main areas of interest: sponsorship goals, activation strategies and evaluation processes and measures. The results highlight the value of customising sponsorship agreements to fit the business goals of individual sponsors as well as the strong presence of social media in sponsorship activation strategies. Greater sponsor expectations in terms of return on investment measurement and the increased role of analytics in the evaluation of sponsorship effectiveness are also uncovered. A number of best practices in sport sponsorship, practical implications and directions for future research are discussed at the conclusion of this paper.


Keywords: sport sponsorship; co-branding; sponsorship goals; sponsorship activation; digital media; ROI measurement; business analytics


Spencer C. Wellington is a graduate of Robert Morris University, USA, and a member of the University Honors Program. He works as Grants Accountant for Food & Friends in Washington, District of Columbia.


Artemisia Apostolopoulou , PhD , is a Professor of Sport Management and Marketing at Robert Morris University, USA. Her research interests include branding and brand extension strategies of sport organisations, sport sponsorship and the consumption and value of licensed products.


David P. Synowka , PhD , is a Professor and Department Head of Sport Management at Robert Morris University, USA. His research interests include the emerging influences of technology in the sport industry and sport sponsorship. He serves as the faculty adviser for the National Sports Forum Case Cup Competition.



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