As advertising drifts away from the traditional forms, i.e. radio, television, and print, a new wave of new media outlets have been created. The internet 2.0 including social networking sites, subway advertising, and cell phone advertising are just some of the new emerging media in which companies are starting to use to up the ante on their competition. Although, event sponsorship has been around for hundreds of years, it has not taken the front seat in ways to efficiently advertise a product or service until recently. Event sponsorship is a promoter fee for a company who wishes to have the right to associate with an event that will create awareness of the product they wish to sell. The sponsorship will provide entertainment for the event, will advertise or promote at the event, or it will sample its product(s) at the event, giving its target a chance to familiarize itself with the product and company, (Solomon p.63).

Fiesta_Bowl_WV_2008-c.jpg belafontesponsorlogos.jpg

Levels of Event Sponsorship

There are usually three levels of sponsorship - although depending on the size of the event there may be more levels – title, presenting, or official product sponsorships. Title sponsorships are the most expensive sponsorship a company can buy and depending on the event, it can cost over $130,000. For a title sponsorship, the cost is usually calculated as 125% of the total cost of the talent brought in by them. This sponsorship allows for premium advertising, i.e. the best television and radio spots and the best benefits, such as complimentary tickets to the event, quality hotel stays and complimentary entertainment to the sponsee. An example of a title sponsorship, was last year’s championship football game between West Virginia University and North Carolina at the Meineke Car Care Bowl. A presenting sponsorship is about 50 to 60% of the cost of the title sponsorship. This sponsorship does not get the best advertising or promotion but still gets some complimentary tickets to the event and hotel stays. Presenting sponsorship allows companies to get some exposure but not to the extent of the title sponsorship. The official product sponsor gets the least exposure and benefits of the two previous levels but it is also the least expensive – costing 10 to 25% of the price of the title sponsorship.



How to Obtain a Sponsorship

To obtain a sponsorship, the event will either contact companies or vice versa. Suppose the event contacts the company to obtain a title sponsorship. The event planning committee would submit a written proposal to the company they wish to gain as a sponsor. The proposal should include the rights to exclusivity in the company’s specific product line, television advertising – whether or not the event is televised and what kind of spot they get such as a thirty second commercial spot. It would include the specifics on signage – where the logos would go and commercial times, it would include specifics on entertainment for the sponsoring company, i.e. complimentary tickets, hotels and parties. It should include how the merchandise (if there is any) will be displayed – in booths, or tents and whether or not the sponsor has the right to create merchandise with the event name. The proposal should have the specifics on the promotional, public relational and advertising aspects of the event. (Sneath p. 374). Once the proposal is submitted, a follow-up presentation would be next to seal the deal.


A disadvantage to sponsoring these large events held at sports arenas and stadiums is the audience recall rate. Brands such as Adidas, Fujifilm, and Toshiba spent tens of millions of dollars for the rights to be official sponsors of the FIFA World Soccer Cup in Germany. Accurate identification of the sponsors of the event or cause is key in having a successful campaign. Research shows however that attendees and viewers of this event could not identify the primary sponsors. Half of the British fans who attended the games could not recall any sponsors. In this case, the value of the sponsorship becomes very questionable in effectiveness.(Johar, 183)

Why Use Event Sponsorship?

Companies use event sponsorship to gain awareness and to boost sales. They also use event sponsorship “as a way to reach a self-selected audience, hopefully interested in purchasing the companies' products or services,” (Lainson, p. 1). There are many other reasons companies use event sponsorship such as promotion, entertainment and sampling opportunities, athlete and or celebrity tie-ins, or to change their brand image. Through event sponsorship, for example car racing, the bonds between the consumers and the brand "... are best formed through 'real world' interaction – seeing, hearing about, tasting, directly experiencing a product or service or feeling an emotional experience. Having real contact or feeling connected with people/cars/teams who can act as a guide - and/or even on an unconscious level - through the brand experience," (National Impact p. 1).

Reach & Frequency

The reach and frequency of event sponsorship depends on a number of factors. On a best case scenario, the audience is at the event, being immersed in the advertising the sponsors created. In this case, there is the greatest chance of the sponsors’ messages to reach its target. The second best scenario is having the target watch the event on television (if it is televised), but if the camera does not focus on the specific sponsor ad, then there is a less chance of the target seeing the sponsors’ messages. The worst case scenario, is when your target does not attend or watch the event, in which case there is no possible chance the sponsors’ message will reach its target. This last scenario is a major downfall of event sponsorship. If there are advertisements promoting the event with key sponsors prior to the event, there is a higher chance for the target to recall the sponsors’ company, but that also depends on how much the company paid for their specific sponsorship as explained before.


Although event sponsorship has its weaknesses, as do all advertising mediums, it has tremendous benefits. For many events, sponsorship is a must. Can anyone imagine what a sporting event would be without sponsors? There would be a barebones stadium with no advertising, no refreshments, no giveaways, or promotions. Even the home team could not advertise their logo because that is a form of sponsorship. Many companies would have a hard time gaining awareness if there were no such thing as event sponsorship. From the big sponsors to the little sponsors they all gain exposure for their companies whether they are subconsciously doing it or consciously doing it.


Lainson, Suzanne. “Why Companies Sponsor Events.” Sports Trust Magazine Online. Issue 11: 1997. Oct 20, 2009. http://www.onlinesports.com/sportstrust/sports11.html

Johar, G., Pham, M., & Wakefield, K. (2006). How Event Sponsors Are Really Identified: A (Baseball) Field Analysis. Journal of Advertising Research, 46(2), 183-198. Retrieved from Business Source Premier database.

National Impact: Motorsports Marketing “Return on Investment” 2007 Oct. 22, 2009. <http://www.nationalimpact.com/roi.htm>
Sneath, Julie Z. “An IMC Approach to Event Marketing: The Effects of Sponsorship and Experience on Customer Attitudes.” Journal of Advertising Research: Dec. 2005.

Solomon, Jerry. “An Insider's Guide to Managing Sporting Events.” Human Kinetics. 1st ed. 2001: New York, NY.
Harlem Downing Org. --- Example of a Sponsorship Tier --- http://www.harlemdowling.org/pdf/sponsorship_opportunities.pdf