Traditional measurement of sports sponsorship packages indicates an uplift of 30% in commercial effects when fans are aware of the linkage, but this more than doubles when fans can see how their own experience improves.

In an exclusive WARC article, Generating fan goodwill: The key to increased sponsorship effectiveness, Professor Tony Meenaghan (University College Dublin), Jamie Macken and Mark Nolan (both from the Core Ireland agency), outline how they created the National Sponsorship Index, a ranking of the top 50 most effective sponsorships in the Irish marketplace and their understanding of the underlying reasons for that effectiveness.

Sponsor brand metrics – awareness, image, affinity, purchase consideration/intent, actual/repeat purchase as well as other brand relationship metrics, including advocacy – are anchored in sponsorship awareness as the basis for delineating sponsorship effectiveness, the authors note

But this approach ignores the reactions of consumers (as fans) to the sponsor’s behaviour concerning the object of their affections and passions

“Tread softly because you tread on my dreams”

Fans – and especially highly-involved fans – are acutely aware and judgemental of sponsor behaviour, the authors argue. Sponsor behaviour that is seen as beneficial to the team and/or enabling greater fan/team interaction, for example, results in generating positive goodwill and gratitude towards the sponsor.

And the reverse is also true; perceptions of sponsor abuse, disregard and selfishness can engender a hostile and negative reaction from fans. “Thus, goodwill is earned and contingent on the fan’s perception of sponsor behaviour.”

The National Sponsorship Index is based on three key building blocks: Fandom (fan numbers and the intensity of fan passions), Goodwill (the respondent’s beliefs that benefit is being delivered by the sponsorship to the property and/or to the fan’s interaction with the property) and Linkage (sponsorship awareness among fans); data from two national surveys helped create a single score for each listed-sponsorship and benchmarked the top 50 marquee sponsorships in Ireland.

The results, the authors report, “indicate that significant incremental value is available to the sponsor through the generation of fan goodwill leading to fan gratitude and reciprocation.” They find a 71% uplift in commercial effects.

And they advise rights holders to encourage their sponsors to “re-direct aspects of their sponsorship investments and efforts to generate fan goodwill to the advantage of all parties to the sponsorship triangle”.

Sourced from WARC