Current Issue Summary
June 2021 (Vol. 61, Issue 2)
Are Brands Wasting Money on Sport Sponsorships? A New Look at Brand Personality, Brand Equity, and Official Sponsorship Effects
This research is grounded in the supposition that because marketers now invest so much equity and effort in such programs, a better awareness of their effects has become more important than ever before. The focus: Major League Baseball sponsorship and four dimensions of brand equity. Lane Wakefield and Kirk Wakefield (both at Baylor University), Kevin Lane Keller (Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College) and Anne Rivers (basc partners) employed the expansive BrandAsset Valuator (BAV) database to reach their conclusions. (Rivers coauthored the research when at BAV Group). A major finding: Brand personality matters. Strong personalities tend to overspend, while ‘boring’ ones can hit the ball out of the park.
Studying sponsorship using the BrandAsset Valuator (BAV) helps to reveal interactions between brand equity and brand personality traits. BAV, the world’s largest empirical study of consumer brand perceptions, posits that brand equity can be measured by four key dimensions: differentiation, relevance, esteem and knowledge, all of which offer insights into a brand’s strength. But brands often take on personality traits or human values, coming across as “fun” (e.g. McDonald’s), “sincere” (e.g. Hallmark) and “sophisticated” (e.g. Heineken), among others, as previous research has shown (Aaker 1997). “Brands with strong fun-friendly-social or traditional-reliable-straightforward personalities are expected to be associated with high brand differentiation, relevance, esteem and knowledge,” the academic-practitioner research team wrote, “but increased sponsorship spending may be linked with some negative brand equity relationships. For these reasons, significant interactions are expected between brand personalities and sponsorship spending on brand equity.”
Accordingly, the researchers asked these key questions: What sponsorship effects are associated with different dimensions of brand personality? How important is it to be an official sponsor to build brand equity, and which brands benefit most? Do advertising and sponsorship expenditures operate differently? How much is too much? They examined more than 58,000 observations of Major League Baseball fans recorded in the BAV database, from 2011 to 2015— across the top 200 advertising spenders and 20 categories. Fan types included lapsed fans, occasional fans and active fans.
Among the findings:
- Personality matters, particularly where your brand stands within and across personality categories (i.e. how fans view your brand). The two types studied here were fun-friendly-social and traditional-reliable-straightforward.
- Brands with strong personalities mostly waste money on sponsorships, because they typically already hold dominant market and brand equity positions.
- Boring is not all bad. Sponsorship spending and official sponsorship gains are greatest among brands with low, fun-friendly-social and traditional-reliable-straightforward personality ratings.
- More can be less in marketing spend. Big spenders in sponsorship and advertising are characterized by low brand differentiation.
Read the full article here.