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International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

The International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship publishes peer reviewed research, case studies, comment and interviews from academics and industry experts. Published quarterly, it is the only sports journal to have met the rigorous standards required for a listing by both PsycINFO and SSCI.
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Latest issue   Volume 16   Number 2   January 2015

Alcohol sponsorship back in the spotlight

Over the 2014 Christmas period a group of leading UK health experts, including the president of the Royal College of Physicians and the chair of council at the British Medical Association, wrote an open letter to the Guardian newspaper calling for an alcohol sponsorship ban in sport. The debate on the subject has been running since tobacco sponsorship was banned in European (EU) countries in 2006.

In this edition of the Journal we introduce further research to the debate with a paper from Sarah Kelly et al, senior academics in Australia, who demonstrate the level of sponsorship activation among alcohol companies; in particular, they point to social media activation, which is largely unregulated and appears to break the code of practice agreed by the alcohol industry.

By and large, this paper calls for a ban on alcohol sponsorship in sport, and in Australia a significant number of major sports have agreed to a voluntary ban based on the government replacing sponsor fees with a major grant to sports bodies.

The other side of the coin is a paper published in this Journal in 2009 by Fiona Davies of Cardiff University, which examined the effects of both sporting involvement and alcohol sponsorship on underage drinking. Her findings were that although sponsorship appeared to have a small effect, it was very little in comparison to sports culture, the inference being that an alcohol sponsorship ban would have very little impact on consumption.

Indeed, evidence from France, where alcohol sponsorship was banned with the introduction of the Loi Envin [law] in 1991, sheds very little light on whether the bans have any effect. France was undergoing a period of steady decline in consumption before the ban and this has continued. However, since the ban was introduced, there has been a marked increase in binge drinking among young people. Some are citing the advent of social media as a catalyst for the new problems.

French addiction specialist Professor Michel Reynaud, for example, says: “Social networks have democratised consumption of alcohol and proclaimed drunkeness as a status symbol.”

This would clearly suggest that any alcohol sponsors (and indeed non-sponsors) need to be very cautious about how their campaigns are activated via social media.

What is of major concern, however, is the call for a ban on alcohol sponsorship without serious consideration for what appear to be the real causes of problematic drinking. Governments could invest time and resources bringing new laws onto the statute books only to find that alcohol-related problems remain. This would simply put back the point at which the real problems are addressed and many lives will be destroyed in the meantime.

Whether or not an alcohol sponsorship ban is worthwhile remains open for debate. Our sister publication, Sponsorship Today, recently undertook a survey which showed that globally beer companies alone spent $1.4 billion on sport. It found no pattern between national sponsorship spend and national consumption. That is a lot of money to take out of professional sports funding, so legislators need to think long and hard about what should be the next step. In the meantime, as ever, we aim to inform the debate with continued professional research.

Michel Desbordes, Editor

Paper 1
Young consumers’ exposure to alcohol sponsorship in sport
Sarah Kelly, University of Queensland, Australia
Michael Ireland, University of Southern Queensland, Australia
Frank Alpert, University of Queensland, Australia
Two studies were undertaken with the aim of determining the nature and prevalence of exposure to alcohol sponsorship communications associated with sport. Study 1 reports a content analysis of alcohol sponsors’ leveraging across popular sporting events. Study 2 examines alcohol sponsors’ activation in social media. A high proportion of alcohol sponsorship messages containing content appealing to young adult drinkers are revealed across multiple media. Events and policy implications are addressed.
Paper 2
The image impact of mega-sporting events perceived by international students and their behaviour intentions
Dongfeng Liu, Shanghai University of Sport, China
Using Shanghai F1 as an example, this research seeks to examine the impact of mega-events on host city image from the perspective of international students. Leisure facilities and service were the most positive image impact perceived by the respondents, followed by affective city images as well as opportunities and convenience. International students tended to disagree that F1 would result in any crime and security problems and were unsure about any negative impact on environment and daily life. Some of the image factors were significantly related to intention to work in the city or the willingness to recommend the city.
Paper 3
The influence of title sponsorships in sports events on stock price returns
Masaki Kudo, University of Florida, USA
Yong Jae Ko, University of Florida, USA
Matthew Walker, Texas A&M University, USA
The purpose of this study was to examine stock price abnormal returns following title sponsorship announcement and event date of NASCAR, the PGA Tour, and the LPGA Tour. For this purpose, the authors used event study analysis where the analysis measures the impact that a specific event has on stock prices by comparing actual stock returns to estimated returns (Spais & Filis, 2008). An event study analysis demonstrated that title sponsors for the LPGA Tour and NASCAR garnered significant stock price increases on both the announcement date and the event date. The moderator tests suggested that high image congruence and high-technology related sponsorships assumed a key role in stock price increases.
Paper 4
Patriotism, national athletes and intention to purchase international sports products
Claudio M. Rocha, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil
Janet S. Fink, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA
The purpose of this research was to investigate the effects of patriotism and identification with national players on identification with the NBA and, ultimately, with purchase intentions of league-related merchandise. Findings revealed that the interaction between patriotism and identification with national players was a significant predictor of identification with NBA, which in turn was a significant predictor of purchase intentions of league-related products. The moderated mediation model fit the data quite well and explained 44.5% of the variance in purchase intentions. Theoretical implications of the findings, as well as practical implications for sports managers, are discussed.
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