Sponsorship And Advertising: Benefits Of Sponsorship

Sponsorship and advertising, though often believed to be alternatives, are not two separate entities. Sponsorship is advertising. Sponsorship changes the goodwill, attitude and behaviour of customers towards the sponsor which in turn results in sales.

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Benefits Of Sponsorship

Sponsorship is a fast growing form of marketing in the western world. Businesses of all sizes utilise sponsorship opportunities as an effective way to boost their visibility in their community, establish goodwill and develop brand recognition.

Is sponsorship philanthropy or good marketing? It is philanthropy in that many organisations, events or good cause support groups would not exist without the help from sponsors.  It is good marketing in that companies take advantage of sponsorship opportunities to portray their brand in a positive, community conscious way. In addition to gaining visibility and brand recognition, sponsorship helps companies to differentiate from competitors, develop closer relationships with customers and showcase products and services.

What Is Sponsorship?

Sponsorship is defined as “an investment, in cash or in kind, in an activity, in return for access to the exploitable commercial potential associated with that activity” (Madrigal, 2001, p. 147; Meenaghan, 1991, p. 36). The activity can be anything from Sydney to Hobart Yacht race (oh, should I say, “Rolex Sydney to Hobart Race”!) to a gathering of computer geeks in a local club on a Friday afternoon.

Sponsorship is more than just a cash investment into a promotional activity. Sponsors seek affiliation with a particular event, cause or a team in order to “develop, improve, or change their brand image” and generate good will within the target audience to foster positive attitudes towards the company or a product (Dees, et al, 2008, p. 79).

This is very clear from the by-lines of companies that are known for great sponsorship efforts:

  • Rolex Sydney to Hobart Race Sponsorship: “Rolex is proud to be associated with the values of one of the world’s greatest yacht races”.
  • Emirates Sponsorships: “We believe sponsorships are one of the best ways to connect with our passengers. They allow us to share and support their interests and to build a closer relationship with them” (HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, 2009).
  • Vodafone Sponsorships: “As a winner itself in its own line of business, Vodafone sees good sense in being associated with other winners, and being involved in aspirational activities which excite the public” (Superbrand sponsorship, 2009).

The keywords in the above statements are “values”, “connect”, “relationship”, “aspirational”, “excite”, “be a part of”. Interestingly, a number of sponsorship theories, discussed below, focus on these interpersonal and psychological concepts. Sponsorship is personal. Sponsorship is about developing relationship with clients and the target market.

What Is Advertising?

Advertising is defined as “any paid form of non-personal presentation and promotion of ideas, goods, or services by an identified sponsor” (Kotler, et al., 2009). While there is a place for suggesting that “sponsorship is an act of philanthropy”, there are no gray areas in advertising. Advertising campaigns using direct media are well researched, developed and expected to produce a planned ROI to justify the investment cost.

What is the Difference?

The concept of “sponsorship” is often contrasted with “advertising” in the areas of cost, market targeting and identifying with customers. Some authors suggest that “… sponsorships provide a simple and inexpensive alternative to larger advertising investments “(Meir et al., 1997), which I tend to believe, is not always true. Without looking into balance sheets, one could suggest that major sponsorship engagement require a much greater investment and financial commitment than short-lived advertising campaigns. However, this is also an over generalised statement. Sponsorship is not an automatic “cheaper” replacement for advertising.

Sponsorship and advertising, though often believed to be alternatives, are not two separate entities. Sponsorship is advertising. Sponsorship is just another advertising medium that can only be compared with other advertising media such as print, TV billboards, but not with “advertising” itself..

Sponsorship changes the goodwill, attitude and behaviour of customers towards the sponsor which in turn rubs off on the brand (Harvey, 2001). It is more accepted by the public because of the realisation that many events cannot exist without direct support from sponsors (Mason, 2005).

Sponsors can be seen as being there to help, whereas advertising is only seen as doing it for profit (in exception of non profit organisations promoting their services).


Dees, W., Bennett, G., Villegas, J. 2008. Measuring the Effectiveness of Sponsorship of an Elite Intercollegiate Football Program. Sport Marketing Quarterly 17: 79-89.

Harvey, B. 2001. Measuring the effects of sponsorship. Journal of Advertising Research. 41: 59-65.

Kotler, P., Keller, P., and Burton., S. 2009. Marketing Management. Frenchs Forest: Pearson Education Australia.

Mason, K. 2005. How Corporate Sport Sponsorship Impacts Consumer Behaviour. Journal of American Academy of Business, Cambridge. 7(1): 32-35.

Meir, R., Arthur, D., Tobin, J., Massingham, C. (1997). Professional rugby league in Australia: A case study of sponsor awareness. Cyberjournal of Sport Marketing,1(2). http://fulltext.ausport.gov.au/fulltext/1997/cjsm/v1n2/Meir.htm (Accessed July 23, 2009).

Sponsorships. 2009. HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum. http://www.emirates.com/au/english/about/sponsorships/sponsorships.aspx Accessed July 23, 2009.

Superbrand sponsorship.2009. www.tt100.biz. Accessed July, 23, 2009.

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The review "Sponsorship And Advertising: Benefits Of Sponsorship" was last updated on 18/10/2009.