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The Long Reach of Sponsorship: How Fan Isolation and Identification Jointly Shape Sponsorship Performance

Marc Mazodier, Conor M. Henderson and Joshua T. Beck

JM Insights in the Classroom

Full Citation: ​
Mazodier, M., Henderson, C. M., & Beck, J. T. (2018), “The Long Reach of Sponsorship: How Fan Isolation and Identification Jointly Shape Sponsorship Performance,” Journal of Marketing, 82 (6), 28–48.

Insight:
For sponsors of teams in a global market, fan isolation by living out-of-market increases sponsor brand recall, more favorable consumer attitudes, higher purchase intentions, higher word of mouth, and greater likelihood to choose the brand sponsor over a competitor. However, this is only true for strong fans. Isolation harms sponsorship performance for weak fans, who desert the team. A class exercise is included.

Abstract Article
Globalization and technology have expanded the reach of sports teams, giving brand sponsors new opportunities to engage and build relationships in real time with fans outside a team’s home market. This research investigates the role of fan isolation, or the experience of feeling separated from the team community, in shaping sponsorship effectiveness. The authors posit that such isolation increases the desire to affiliate with the team community, which can increase preferences for team-linked brands. However, the effect of isolation on sponsor performance depends on the strength of fan identification. Isolation increases strong fans’ desire to affiliate with the team community, thereby enhancing sponsorship performance; by contrast, isolation causes weak fans to avoid team-linked brands. Two field studies and four quasi experiments conducted across three countries (N 1⁄4 1,412) confirm these predictions. Isolated strong fans exhibit increased recall, attitudes, purchase intentions, and word of mouth for sponsors, while isolated weak fans display the opposite effects. For brand managers, the proposed framework reveals whether isolated fans provide the best or worst returns on their sponsorships.

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Topic Areas: ​
Brand Management; Marketing Strategy

Special thanks to Kelley Gullo and Holly Howe, Ph.D. candidates at Duke University, for their support in working with authors on submissions to this program. 

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Marc Mazodier is Associate Professor of Marketing, Zayed University, and Affiliate Professor, Kedge Business School.

Conor M. Henderson is Assistant Professor of Marketing, Lundquist College of Business, University of Oregon.

Joshua T. Beck is Assistant Professor of Marketing, Lundquist College of Business, University of Oregon.