Leveraging sponsorship to achieve consumer relationship objectives through the creation of ‘marketing spaces’: An exploratory study
This paper explores the emergence of sponsorship-linked events as a strategy to leverage relational outcomes through sponsorship investment. The growing use of sponsorship-linked events reinforces the need to understand the potential of such leverage strategies, thus the findings contribute to the body of literature on effective sponsorship practices. Findings from semi-structured interviews with Sponsorship and Marketing Managers suggest a shifting orientation among sponsors towards the pursuit of relational objectives. The privileged access to consumers afforded through sponsorship allows sponsors to manufacture opportunities to create intimacy with customers through sponsorship-linked events in relaxed, comfortable environments; thus sponsorship-linked events are positioned as a rich environment to add value to consumer–brand interactions and achieve relational objectives. Hosting specifically designed events affords sponsors an increased modicum of control over consumer–brand experiences in sponsorship environments characterised by a lack of control over sponsored property actions. However, this control may be eroded by social media technologies, which facilitate consumer–consumer communication around sponsorship-linked events. Social media, however, is proposed as a useful tool to elicit consumer feedback, addressing the misalignment between current sponsorship evaluation practices and emergent relational objectives revealed in the empirical findings. Therefore, successfully activating the sponsorship-linked marketing space demands an integrated and strategic approach.