Coming soon…The Hobbit: Bilbo Buys a Car

The much anticipated movie The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is due for release in the UK on the 13th of December. I don’t usually get excited about films but I am very much looking forward to this one. So you can imagine that when I came across the first set of reviews I was pretty eager to find out what it’s going to be like. In short the reviews were a bit mixed but pretty positive (to my relief), but it did get me thinking about the topic of this week’s blog, product reviews.

Allow me then, to set the scene for this blog with my version of The Hobbit. Our character, let’s call him Bilbo, finds himself in need of a car to go on a journey with some friends to slay a dragon (as you do). So he heads down to a car dealership. Now Bilbo is in search of a car for himself and his 14 new friends, but has no idea which one to pick! As he wonders’s around the sales court festooned with a variety of automobiles, a salesman approaches and starts to bombard poor Bilbo with information about a car that Bilbo doesn’t want. What Bilbo didn’t do was get information about the products he was interested in and so, has no idea what car would be suitable for his needs. Looks like dragon slaying will have to wait!

Can you imagine how long it would take to walk to the lonely mountain? Probably easier to drive.

So where could Bilbo have gotten the information he need from? He could consult the retailer by means of their product description or through a salesman. Whilst Bilbo may get product specifications, there is a problem in that while retailers want to satisfy consumer needs to gain repeat purchases, they are primarily interested in gaining an immediate sale so will give an extremely biased view of the product.

Would you trust this salesman?

It would seem then that the retailer and its employees may not be a reliable source of information. Perhaps, then Bilbo could get opinions from fellow consumers who have actually tested the product. This can be done by reading reviews by consumers or by reading review articles from a respected source. In the case of Bilbo’s quest for a car, he could search for information from consumer forums or a variety of well established review magazines and web sites such as Top Gear, Autocar, Parkers etc (which make up a small portion of an industry dedicated to reviews) to aide him in his quest for information, that is of course if they have the internet in middle earth.

Also a car reviewer. Who’d of thought it!

Reviews (or scientifically speaking word of mouth communication) do seem like a good idea and they have a strong influence on product judgements and purchase intentions (Charlett, Ron Garland & Marr, 1995) . After all, the bias of a manufacturer who wants to take your money and possibly your soul is removed. However, bias does rear its ugly head in reviews. Evidence from the realm of science suggests that there is a conformity effect with product reviews when they are written by consumers. Lee, Park and Han (2008) found that as the proportion of negative views increased, subsequent reviewers tend to conform to the negative reviews. Due to pessimistic human/hobbit nature, there is also a tendency for us to be more willing to pass on negative information than positive and since we are governed by our emotions; our emotional state will cause us to exaggerate positive/negative reviews depending on whether the emotional context was positive/negative (Heath, 1996) . Clearly then bias is still an issue with consumer reviews. However, it is still an excellent method of acquiring real world information on a product (whats its like to live with etc) and will highlight some positive and negative attributes of the product that retailers may not mention. So this is a good place for Bilbo to search!

So what of the aforementioned reviews from magazines and web sites? Well these are perhaps not as biased as other reviews as they will not suffer from conformity effects. Also, many of these review companies have been around for many years and so, in the consumers mind, are reliable and trustworthy which mean that consumers will be more susceptible to their influence (Bearden, Netemeyer, & Teel, 1989) which isn’t necessarily a bad thing given that they are a reputable source. Furthermore, such reviews are more vivid than regular web based reviews and this has found to the review being more accessible from memory and a better influence on decision making (Herr, Kardes & Kim, 1991). This too then, is a good place for poor Bilbo to get searching!

Overall then, it is certainly wise to seek information about products prior to purchase and I believe this is best done by reading reviews from other consumers (whilst of course taking potential biases into account) and consulting articles from the review industry. However, whilst consulting the opinions of others through reviews is great for getting an idea of what the product is like, the sad truth is that you will never know for sure if a product is right for you until you buy it, but conducting a good information search on the desired product is a good way to increase the chances of a happy existence with your product of choice.

So to conclude Bilbo’s tale then. Well he read this blog and subsequently consulted many an article to find the right vehicle for him and his chums. Bilbo searched well and wound up getting the perfect vehicle for his quest. Bilbo and co had many an adventure along the way which I won’t spoil here and when he finally returned home, he wrote a review which you can see this Thursday in the cinema!

Bilbo travelled in style!

Made in UK, China, USA, Taiwan, Japan, Italy, Switzerland……Does it matter?

Whilst shopping with my girlfriend and dreading the inevitable hours waiting outside a changing room, I found myself gazing longingly at watches through the window of a rather upmarket watch store. It suddenly occurred to me that I was always drawn to the watches labelled “Swiss made”. Watch enthusiast will go on about how Swiss made means it has better time keeping but I’m pretty sure a £30 watch from Next is adequate for that and a damn sight cheaper too! Could it be then that it was the associations between the product and the country of origin that made me prefer those watches highlighting the fact they were Swiss made?

Well according to Schooler (1965) , the answer is yes.  Schooler (1965) was one of the very first to analyse opinions of products from a variety of countries. Identical products with the exception of country of origin were evaluated by participants and a variety of different opinions were found indicating country of influence to be a factor in product evaluations. This phenomenon was termed the “country-of-origin effect”, original I know.

So what’s in those words “Made in…”? Bilkey and Nes (1982) propose that an individual’s perceptions and feelings towards a country will influence their perceptions of products from that country. In other words product evaluations are influenced by country of origin and this will influence consumer’s all important purchase intention. Sounds good right? Well for some countries it certainly is with evidence showing that products from more developed countries are evaluated significantly better than those manufactured in less developed countries (Verlegh & Steenkamp, 1999). Therefore, country of origin can have a positive or negative influence on perceptions of a product.

Not just a label then!

Not just a label then!

Let’s go to what is fast becoming a theme in this blog, the world of cars. Here is a market where country of origin plays a huge role in the choice of product. If you want a flamboyant supercar (which I do), you buy Italian, an executive saloon, buy German, sophisticated technology, buy Japanese, oversized, buy American the list goes on. But here it’s the brand that plays a role rather than the individual product itself. So you’d presume country of origin must have an effect on brand image………. and it does! Yasin, Noor and Mohamad (2007) researched this country of origin/brand image malarkey by means of regression analysis. This analysis revealed a positive correlation between country of origin and brand equity (which was found by factor analysis to comprise of brand distinctiveness, brand loyalty, and brand awareness/associations, thought you might like to know). In other words a brand from a country that is viewed positively by the consumers will attain a positive brand image and this can result in the Holy Grail for companies, brand loyalty.

Brand image also has an effect on perceived quality of products (Jacoby, Olson & Haddock, 1971). However, I would argue that so does country of origin. Back to my watch craving and the search for Swiss made. Swiss made has become something of a by word for quality and many products that are Swiss made, put this fact at the heart of their marketing campaigns.

A hallmark for quality?

A hallmark for quality?

But why emphaise a country of origin? Evidence suggests that purchase intent will be high if a countries’ image has characteristics that are important to a product and that perceptions of product vary with the country of origins perceived production and marketing strengths in relation to the product category (Roth & Romeo, 1992). Perhaps then marketers aim to utilise a countries reputation in a certain field to promote the quality of their products as a means of differentiating them from the competition. This is true of the new Jaguar F type. Proudly plugged as British, it is relying on Britains repuation for sophistication and style as well as Britains reputation for building the “British Sportscar”. Time will tell if this is a success.

Sophisticated, stylish and quite essentially British

Sophisticated, stylish and quite essentially British

So there you have it! Seems that the country of origin is a rather large consideration for consumers when purchasing products and can even affect brand image and, on a personal note, it shows that I like supercars and expensive watches, not because of a worryingly early mid life crisis, but because I am such a fan of Italy and Switzerland!

Surely 2 brands are better than 1!

Imagine if you will a world where there are no brands. It would be strange to us to be in a world where we listen to an mp3 player, not an iPod, drink cola, not Coca-cola or Pepsi. Even drive just a car, not a Ford or Ferrari. Of course this would never happen in the modern world, unless we were to turn into the new USSR, because consumers are simply too fond of brands. Why? Well there are a multitude of reasons why we buy branded as opposed to white label goods. Reputation of the brand and perceived quality of the products are an example of why we may buy brands.

Just some of the vast array of car brands you can choose from

The image a brand has is also a huge contributing factor towards our preference for a brand. I presented an example of this in my previous blog with the Toyota Prius and other eco products being purchased to help the buyer generate a positive social image. As well as for the outward image, research has found that consumers buy brands because they relate to the brand image. Jamal and Goode (2001)found that consumers show a preference towards brands that have an image that fits with their perceived image of themselves and that consumer’s preference for brands are based on its symbolic value i.e. the image rather than its functionality. We also prefer brands because we can become familiar with them. Laroche, Kim and Zhou (1996) concluded from their research that being familiar with a particular brand improves the confidence felt towards that brand and in turn improves the chance of a purchase.

So those are some examples of why we choose brands and indeed some brands over others. But why settle for a product made by 1 brand when you could have product made by 2 or even more brands!

As a tool to improve a brand, marketers can seek a co-branding opportunity where by 2 or more brands are presented jointly to the consumer. The benefits are that the product gains the attributes of all the brands involved and this has translated into financial success for many co-branding ventures (Spethmann & Benezra, 1994).

Of course, you can’t just pair up with any old brand. Simonin and Ruth (1998) assessed opinions of co-branded products, in this case cars and microprocessors.  The empirical analysis showed that both brands have to fit with each other and both brands have to fit with the co-branded product. This business of fit was found by Helmig, Huber and Leeflang (2007) to have the biggest impact on consumers evaluation of a co-branded product and so is argueably the most important thing to consider when seeking co-branding oppurtunities.

A Ferrari/Jeep co-branding exercise. Italian supercar, American truck. Blatantly a bad fit and an example of poor co-branding!

Interestingly, Simonin and Ruth (1998) also found that both brands don’t have to contribute equally to the product and that co-branding that includes positive fit brands will significantly affect all brands involved. So done right co-branding is a win win situation! An example of good co-branding is the age old supercar/watch company co-branding such as the Breitling/Bentley partnership. In most instances, both partners are premium brands and associated with the jet set and even the complex mechanics are an association.

Supercar companies and premium watch companies have often co-branded

The example above then has the essentials of a good co-branding partnership, established familiar brands (Aston Martin and Jaeger-LeCoultre, which is familiar to watch connoisseurs who can afford such a thing), good fit between brands and fit between brands and products and presenting the brands together. I focused on the automotive world for examples of co-branding, but if you have any interesting examples then please feel free to post them!

Whats the point of the Prius?

Many manufacturers these days are throwing out a new “eco” car left right and centre, Fords eco-boost engines, the new Vauxhall Ampera, VW’s Bluemotion range even the Mercedes Benz, makers of the 6.2 litre V8 SLS supercar which I’ve put a picture of underneath because it’s awesome, have started developing an “eco” range. But why?

The fact is the modern world is increasingly concerned with sustainability and saving the environment. Companies around the world have evolved to address this global concern. Many adopt more sustainable business practises and many develop new eco products to sell to consumers concerned about the environment. Are they capitalising on a new business oppurtunity or just trying to save the planet? Probably a bit of both in my humble opinion although you do seem to pay more for green products (see the example below). Car companies are no exception with electric and hybrid cars gaining a lot of attention recently such as the Electric SLS (see I was going somewhere with the picture) and the Toyota Prius.

Awesome, but its £162,547 MORE than the petrol version. Green (or blue as the case may be) it seems is not without its price tag, and its a biggy!

What’s always puzzled me is why people choose to buy a Prius. Certainly, there is the fuel savings that come with the efficient technology used to power these cars.  However, they are not as efficient as the manufacturers would like you to believe. In Autocar’s test of the Prius, they found that average fuel consumption was 47.5mpg overall, fairly impressive until you find that Toyota claim its consumption to be 72.4mpg. If concerns were truly financial, why not buy a VW Polo, its substantially cheaper to buy and the diesel averages a whopping 72.4mpg (80.7mpg for the Bluemotion variant!).

From a financial stand point, the choice is simple!

So there must be another reason why people purchase eco-cars if not for the fuel savings. Well there is a suggestion that the main reason people buy eco products, such as the Prius, is not to help the environment, but because of the social image such products generate. In the case of this blog’s eco example, the Prius, this certainly appears to the case with half of Hollywood driving around in one these days to help their public image and, in doing so, endorsing the product . There is even scientific evidence to support this! Griskevicius, Tybur and Van den Bergh (2010) compared participants shopping for similarly priced luxury and green products and found that in private (online), participants purchased the luxury item more, whereas in public (in a store), the environmentally friendly item was purchased more. This suggests that image is everything when it comes to buying green and when you consider that in the study social image was ranked above environmental concerns and price; this certainly appears to be the case. With the Prius this is especially relevant. After all everyone can see what car you drive so the Prius appears to be a great way to improve your social image.So the Prius has become a statement as well as a means to reduce emissions and many companies have caught on to this and adopted such cars as company vehicles to enhance their brand image (Williander, 2007).

It could well be argued then that the Prius is a triumph of marketing rather than of environmentalism. Banerjee and McKeage (1994), found that consumers react best to eco products that emphasise success, self-actualization, and status virtues of green consumption and that is certainly what Toyota have done with the Prius.

Now I love supercars and am not a big fan of these boring eco cars (with the exception of the electric SLS). But I can see that what we drive needs to change given the environment and depletion of fossil fuels. The next stage appears to be emission free eco cars powered by electricity and hydrogen rather than hybrids and perhaps an alternate means of promoting such vehicles could be used. Grankvist, Dahlstrand and Biel (2004) suggest that eco labels are not effective and conducted a computer based study to examine the effects of positive and negative framing of eco products. Results showed that participants with moderate concern for the environment i.e. most people, were most swayed by the negative framing. In the future then, the old petrol/diesel cars (with the exception of supercars) could be negatively framed to encourage the purchase of a new breed of emission free cars.

The Hydrogen powered Honda. The future? Quite possibly.

The Key to Advertising Success? Its Simples!

You can’t watch TV these days without being exposed to adverts unless you exclusively watch the BBC, or Sky sports or any channel that doesn’t feature adverts, but you get the point. No doubt though that you will have been exposed to a character in an advertising campaign and that you remember some like you remember a character in a TV series.

So why do companies bother with the time consuming development of an advertisement character? Well in a world saturated with adverts what better way to attract attention than through a character that relates to the target consumers. Characters offers the opportunity to create the brand personality through the character rather than simply having a celebrity sauntering around on screen with a product.

To help such a character become a successful brand ambassador they need to evoke emotion and be memorable (Kennedy, 2010) and this can be done by ensuring the characters personality incorporates the values of the target demographic. But whilst incorporating the values of the customer, the character must also represent the identity of the brand and perhaps most importantly of all the character must be maintained for a long period of time (Kennedy, 2010). After all without repetition of the character the consumer will most likely forget or misattribute the brand and its character.

Kellogg’s have extremely successful characters in their advertising campaigns. Snap Crackle and Pop, Coco, Tony the tiger, they’re all greeeeat (I’m so sorry) due to the fact that they have become an integral part of the brand. Let’s face it, when you look for Frosties the main thing you look for is the image of Tony the Tiger such is the closeness of the association.

Another example is one that I have mentioned in a previous blog and that is Malboro man. The use of a stereotype to represent all the desired values of the Malboro brand caused such a strong desirable image of the brand to be created that after the characters introduction, sales increased by 3241% over the previous year (Burnett, 1999)

Finally we get to what I would argue is one of the best modern examples of an advertising campaign featuring a character. I give you Alexandr Orlov and his faithful employee Sergei!

This is a campaign so successful that the characters have taken on a live of their own creating an industry of books, stuffed toys and phone downloads estimated to be worth 10 million pounds (Hickman, 2010).

This advertising campaign incorporates the essentials attributes for a success and grabbing your attention. It is certainly memorable and evokes emotion through its use of humour and by being novel. Furthermore, the desired brand image is always present with constant references to cheap insurance and giving a fun loving impression as well to remove you from the traditional stuffy image of insurance.

Part of the success can be attributed to the campaign comprising of animated characters. Huang, Hsieh and Chen (2011) have found that adverts that feature an animated spokesman enhance viewers impression of the band and are better at communicating the advert than other spokesman e.g. celebrities and this is liley due to the amusement factor and ability to incorporate target consumer and brand attitudes into the character. This has even been found to be the case in print adverts (Heiser, Sierra & Torres, 2008)

Whilst the use of charcaters in adaverts can’t guarantee purchase intention, the comapre the market campaign certainly seems to have done so with the campaign generating over 70% more sales. Perhaps then Sergei will get his dignity back!

So perhaps more companies should invest in characters for their advertising campaigns to ensure they are remembered and don’t forget, to compare meerkast visit comparethe and fo cheap car insurance visit compare the!

Desperate for Likes!

You’d be hard pressed in today’s society to find someone who is not aware of social media giant Facebook. Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of Facebook partly because of inability to use it and partly because I feel it somehow reduces our capability to interact face to face with people. Nevertheless, I am a user along with the other 1 billion users as of this October (Vance, 2012) , and that’s the equivalent of the planets population back in the good old days of 1804 (Rosen, 2012). That makes Facebook, in population terms, the third largest country………in the world, or in other terms, a marketer’s wet dream.  With a potential audience so large, it’s hard for any company not to be a part of Facebook’s global community with many companies having profiles or placing adverts on the site itself.

You know you do!!!

Doubtless the effectiveness of advertising of Facebook is well documented so, in this portal for consumer knowledge, however, I’m going to focus on the power of the humble “like” button. Facebook defines the “like” feature in relation to a page as “…connecting to that Page. When you connect to a Page, it will appear in your timeline and you will appear on the Page as a person who likes that Page. The Page’s comments will also be seen on your news feed”. Essentially companies gain the benefit of being able to have their posts on your newsfeed and gain the huge benefit of advertising to a huge number of people, providing they “like” the page of course! However, it’s more than just that. Companies can gain coveted customer interaction and gauge the popularity of their company, so in essence a bit of cheap market research. But perhaps most surprising of all is that a company’s number of likes correlates with its stock price (O’Connor, 2012) indicating that each “like” may actually have financial value!

So there are massive benefits to a company. But why do the 87% of people who “like” a company (Sara, 2012) click that magic button? Well Lab42 (check out the infographics they’re awesome) conducted an analysis of 1000 users and found, surprise surprise, that over 50% liked a company for free giveaways or discounts, with 25% liking because they were loyal to or trusted the brand (Sara, 2012). So as usual it’s our wallets that make the decision. But wait, there’s more. Going back to gaining valuable company-consumer interaction, it has been found that 82% of users felt Facebook was a good place to interact with a company (Sara, 2012) and so chose to “like” it. Furthermore, liking a brand could well be consumers expressing themselves. After all everyone can see what companies you like and Belk (1988) proposed that such identification with a brand is related to the notion of the extended-self with consumers expressing themselves by the choice of select companies. To add to this, research has shown that the social value of a brand overwhelms all other aspects of the brand (Sheth, Newman & Gross, 1991) and so we most likely will “like” a brand based on its social image and not necessarily because we are a customer .

So far then it all looks rosie for companies and their coveted likes. But not so fast! A study by the BBC found that when they created a London based fake company profile with no information on the page at all; it attracted 1,600 likes in 24 hours. Sounds great, until it was shown that almost all the likes were from India, Egypt, Indonesia and the Philippines. When the advert was adjusted to target only UK users, the number of likes was dramatically reduced to 10% of the previous level (Cellan-Jones, 2012).

Some more research supporting the existence of fake likes

So can consumers really rely on the number of likes as a measure of a company’s trust worthiness? Well to further cast doubts in your mind just type “facebook likes” into Google and you’ll find many sites offering to sell you Facebook likes.  Aside from being cynical, adverts on peoples Facebook may not be particularly effective. Research has found that commercial contact was rated lowest as an incentive to log on to the internet and that people are increasingly concerned about company’s intrusion on social media sites (Grant, 2010). There is therefore a limit, it appears, to the effectiveness of advertising on social media sites and perhaps people are beginning to dislike the “like”.

On a final note, I’ve talked about the power of the “like” option on Facebook. But how would things be different for consumers if we had the option of a “dislike” button?        

Hope this has been of interest and looking forward to some thoughts!

Incompetent Male? Domesticated Female? You must be a Stereotype!

Welcome everyone to something something consumer’s second blog!

As the title suggest, it’s all about stereotypes, specifically in adverts so sit back, relax and get ready to digest some info on stereotypes!

So to be clear, stereotypes a representation of a groups shared beliefs, values, behaviours etc, and are specific to that group (Gafencu-Bandiul, 2011). Naturally, every culture has stereotypes for many groups of people for example, students are intelligent (positive stereotype) and don’t get out of bed till gone midday (negative stereotype but positive if you are a student!) and so for marketers its critical to identify the stereotype that will best incorporate the features related to the target segment.

But how can marketers be sure about a group’s stereotype I hear you ask? Well often researching the target segments believes, values etc gives a pretty good idea of explicit beliefs, but psychology has shown that we hold implicit beliefs that may be contrary to the beliefs we openly show (Greenwald & Banaji, 1995). Whilst marketers use the explicit stereotypes, perhaps a better method would be to gauge target segments implicit stereotypes as a better feature with which to advertise products. You heard that idea first (unless you find it elsewhere, in which case you didn’t hear it here first, but I digress…………).

So once the target segment has been identified and the beliefs, values etc established, marketers can build the stereotype, often shown as an individual in adverts. We have all, of course, been exposed to stereotypes in advertising in many different forms, with the most common being gender and racial stereotyping. Which naturally leads me to give you, my treasured readers, examples of such stereotypes in the world of advertisements.

So first off gender stereotyping and what better example than the age old “happy housewife”.

Doesnt she look happy?

Now correct me if I’m wrong, but if I were to buy a woman a hoover for Christmas I think I may end up with a black eye, and yet Shrikhande (2003) found that in 76.5% of adverts, women were portrayed as the central figure for home products indicating that the domesticated female stereotype is very much still around. The continuing existence of what could well be considered an outdated stereotype is likely a result of the cultivation effect (Gerbner, Gross, Morgan & Signorieli, 1980). The repeated exposure over the years of the “happy housewife” stereotype, in this instance, has led to us developing, unconsciously, an implicit stereotype as women being the house keeper, a process known as the cultivation effect (Gerbner, Gross, Morgan & Signorieli, 1980) and since persisting with the stereotype only serves to strengthen it, advertisers continue with what is now a cultural stereotype. Perhaps the most successful use of the cultivation effect and repeated exposure to the same stereotype in an advertising campaign is the Malboro man, the middle aged, handsome, strong male, which ran for 45 years and resulted in a continuous increase in sales for Malboro (Gafencu-Bandiul, 2011). If you’re interested, check out the previous link for a great insight into the Malboro man stereotype.

Whilst advertisers often benefit from the use stereotypes as a means to appeal to the target consumer segment, in some cases the use of stereotypes has backfired, particularly with the use of racial stereotypes. The advert below is a blatant example of racial stereotyping, and appears to use the racial stereotype of black people and fried chicken stemming from the days of segregation in the U.S (Clark, 2010). See for yourself…..

Naturally the ad was pulled off of screens! But could this be an example of some implicit racial stereotypes coming through? Hodson, Gaertner and McLaughlin (2004) explain that aversive racism, in the example of whites towards blacks, is a conflict between the sincere equal values and unacknowledged negative feelings towards blacks and there is evidence that this aversive racism does still exist in the 21st century (Gaertner & McLaughlin, 2000). Such implicit stereotyping may have found its way onto this advert without the marketers really being aware that it would be considered offensive.

Finally, an advert from 2012 featuring Mary J Blige singing about a new chicken wrap from Burger King.

Now this advert was again pulled for apparently showing a racial stereotype, but what do you think? Does it portray a racial stereotype or is it a bit political correctness gone mad as is so often the way?

Looking forward to some opinions!

The Wierd and Wonderful World of Sponsorship

I have the unfortunate disease of being a petrol head and so this Sunday I was inevitably watching the Formula 1. As I stared at the screen envisaging my (imaginary) future career as being behind the wheels currently on screen, I noticed just how many sponsors adorned the bodies of the cars and it occurred to me just how often we are exposed to brands through sponsorship. This naturally led me to the topic of this week’s blog, the aims and effectiveness of sponsorship (Tada).

In the modern society that we are stuck in, we are often exposed to advertisements as a result of sponsorships and we have the evil alcohol and tobacco companies to blame for this. Why I hear you ask, well sponsorship really took off as a tool for marketers to build a brand when the evil tobacco and alcohol companies were excluded from conventional broadcast media (Quester & Farrelly, 1998). This prompted the surge in sponsorship deals with billion being spent each year on sponsorship deals. Sponsorship today is most apparent in the world of sport and, I’m willing to bet quite literally some monopoly money that, whatever sports you, my valued readers, watch, is sponsored by at least one company and that their logos adorn the teams, venue, equipment etc.

A vast majority of racing cars and the stadiums are covered in sponsors!

The primary aim of sponsorship is to create an audience/sponsor connection. This is done by creating an association between a sponsors brand and the sponsored event. This association is based on emotion, after all Mitchell and Olson (1981) highlight that consumers feelings and emotions about a brand do in fact influence our ability to recall that brand. Mood states are incredibly important in advertising and play a key role in sponsorships with Ray and Batra (1983) finding that the event itself can elicit a so called “pleasant state” and so positive attitudes towards the event which are associated by classical conditioning, to the event sponsor brands. However, Walliser (1994) found that if the audience was highly involved in the sponsored event, the ability to recall sponsors was impaired and this also applies to when the audience is in an increased state of arousal (Mundorf, Zillman & Drew, 1991).

Even the London Olympics were saturated with adverts aiming to capitalise on being associated with the event.

It is a fair assumption that when you watch sport you are very unlikely to be attending to all the sponsors’ images and so it begs the question as to how sponsorship is beneficial to the sponsor. You could well imagine that the huge amount of money spent on a sponsorship deal would be better spent on general advertising. It is true that awareness of a sponsor at an event such as a Formula 1 race is initially very low but Parker (1991) found that while it may take time for us consumers to link a brand with an event, once the link is established the brand will be remembered in the long term and can even be remembered years after the sponsorship has ceased. Longitudinal research on sponsor recall at a Formula 1 race (which took a while to find I should add) does indicate that recollection is impaired if the event location is moved (Quester & Farrelly, 1998) indicating an element of context dependent learning. It was also found that sponsors closely involved with the main event rather than other aspects of the event generate a stronger audience/sponsor association. Intriguingly though, there were mixed results as to sponsors being recalled with some sponsors being well remembered and others deteriorating over the course of 4 years!

So does sponsorship really work and is it worth the billions that companies spend on it, or does it just make things look nice? You decide. Thanks for reading and please feel free to leave comments and if you want to sponsor me as a poor master’s student, I’m happy to discuss rates!