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Lifestyle Sponsorship and Player Lifestyle Breach: Opportunity, Not Loss

Lifestyle Sponsorship and Player Lifestyle Breach: Opportunity, Not Loss

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Published by Dr Stephen Dann
Schema mismatch theory, part of sponsorship and celebrity endorsement theory, allows for stronger message association where a mild discrepancy between endorser and the endorsement exists. Continued support of the club where the player engaged in a breach of the TAC road safety message would have created the mismatch. This mismatch could have been leveraged into demonstrable evidence of the continued need for the campaign message. Further, the player in breach presents an opportunity for "celebrity" endorsement of the lifestyle sponsorship message by using the breach to demonstrate a high profile and conscious “adoption” of a specific campaign and message.
Schema mismatch theory, part of sponsorship and celebrity endorsement theory, allows for stronger message association where a mild discrepancy between endorser and the endorsement exists. Continued support of the club where the player engaged in a breach of the TAC road safety message would have created the mismatch. This mismatch could have been leveraged into demonstrable evidence of the continued need for the campaign message. Further, the player in breach presents an opportunity for "celebrity" endorsement of the lifestyle sponsorship message by using the breach to demonstrate a high profile and conscious “adoption” of a specific campaign and message.

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Published by: Dr Stephen Dann on Aug 16, 2007
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09/28/2010

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Lifestyle Sponsorship and Player Lifestyle Breach: Opportunity, Not Loss?Dr Stephen Dann and Dr Susan DannAbstract
In 2005, the Victorian Transport Accident Commission (TAC) ended their 16 yearsponsorship of the Richmond Tigers after a player was found guilty of speeding, drink drivingand associated reckless driving behaviours. At the time of the termination of the agreement,the TAC cited the incompatibility of their message, and the player's behaviour. Whilst TACfelt the driving incident created an incompatibility between the club and the TAC's message,this paper argues that the TAC missed an opportunity to capitalise on the incident tostrengthen their campaign, and their sponsorship through the use of an intentional schemamismatch. Schema mismatch theory, part of sponsorship and celebrity endorsement theory,allows for stronger message association where a mild discrepancy between endorser and theendorsement exists. Continued support of the club where the player engaged in a breach of the TAC road safety message would have created the mismatch. This mismatch could havebeen leveraged into demonstrable evidence of the continued need for the campaign message.Further, the player in breach presents an opportunity for "celebrity" endorsement of thelifestyle sponsorship message by using the breach to demonstrate a high profile and conscious“adoption” of a specific campaign and message.
Sponsorship
Sponsorship has been defined as the provision of assistance either financial or in-kind to anactivity by a commercial organisation for the purpose of achieving commercial objectives(Meenaghan, 1983). The act of sponsorship is seen as two parts: (1) an exchange between asponsor and a sponsee whereby the latter receives a fee and the former receives rights toassociate itself with the activity sponsored, and (2) the marketing of the association by thesponsor. Rifon et al (2004) presents a comprehensive literature summary of the expectationsand purpose of sponsorship, repeated here briefly in table format (Table 1).
Table 1: Sponsorship Expectations and Purposes
Influence Authorsattitude toward the sponsor McDaniel 1999; Speed and Thompson 2000; Stipp 1998awareness of sponsors Bennett 1999; Bloxham 1998; Pham and Joliar 2001influence consumer recall Bennett 1999; Hansen and Scotwin 1995; Nicholls, Roslow,and Dublish 1999purchase intentions Madrigal 2001; McDaniel 1999sponsor image D'Astous and Blitz 1995; Otker and Hayes 1987Sponsorship success depends on the direct or indirect relevance between the sponsor’smessage, and the event being sponsored. Gwinner (1997) clarifies this match as directrelevance where the there is a functional based similarity as occurs where the sponsorsproducts are used in the event (eg Falken Tyres and the Gold Coast Indy 300). Indirectrelevance is where the “image-based similarity” of the match between the core values of theconsumer and the values represented by the sponsors and sponsorship event (Gillette andGold Coast Indy 300).
Lifestyle Sponsorship
 
Lifestyle sponsorships are those sponsorships where the aim of the arrangement is to promotean attitude, behavioural or lifestyle change, such as reduced smoking, anti-speeding or anti-drink driving campaigns. In recent years, more NGO and social causes have come to usesponsorship of sports and the arts as a mechanism to deliver their social change message, dueto the intangible nature of the sponsorship and the lifestyle message.For the purpose of this paper, “lifestyle sponsorship” is defined as “the provision of financialassistance, or in-kind assistance to an activity by an organisation for the purpose of promotinglifestyle or behavioural change objectives”. The core identifier of a lifestyle sponsorship isthe product being promoted by the sponsorship is not a commercial product (eg BundabergRum), or service (eg QANTAS) and is instead a behaviour (Wipe off 5), lifestyle change(QUIT campaigns) or attitude change (Bloody Idiot Campaign). The purpose of this paper isto develop an alternative view of how to handle a lifestyle sponsorship breach.
Understanding Lifestyle Sponsorship I: Purpose of Social Message Endorsement
Lifestyle sponsors are frequently looking for reductions in levels of behaviour as a measure of success. In theory, this would indicate that lifestyle sponsorships operate from a reverse setof objectives to commercial campaigns. In commercial campaigning, success is determinedby increased ROI and sales based on the sponsorship. Successful sponsorships which result inongoing sales should be continued to maintain commercial momentum. Lifestyle campaignswhich are based on behavioural change goals (Wipe off 5) or attitude change (If you drink and drive you're a bloody idiot) which are successful in achieving their outcomes (reductionin speeding, repositioning drink driving as irresponsible) would then be able to withdraw theirsponsorship once the campaign goals have been met.Consequently, lifestyle sponsorships are targeted where a problem exists to be solved, ratherthan where a demand exists to be fulfilled or expanded. As a result, what constitutes"functional similarity" for lifestyle sponsorship under Gwinner's (1997) model of sponsorshiprelevance?
Figure 1: Relevance of Lifestyle Sponsorship
Gwinner (1997) sets out functional based similarity as occurring where the sponsor's productsare used in the event. Within the context and confines of the sports sponsorship arena, barringmotorsport, there is limited opportunity for most lifestyle sponsor messages to occur withinthe parameters of the game event. Even in motorsport, whilst drink driving is prohibited bythe rules of motorsport, the Indy 300 is not the ideal opportunity for functional basedendorsement of "Wipe off 5" or "Every K over is a killer". In order for functional similarityto be used by a lifestyle sponsor, the sponsees must engage in the appropriate lifestyle outsideof the context of the sporting event.
Understanding Lifestyle Sponsorship II: The Lifestyle Sponsorship Burden
Event Non Event 
RelevanceFunctionalSimilarityImageSimilarity?Event Image / Team ImageCelebrityAssociationSponsee'spersonal life
 
Given their nature, lifestyle sponsorships directly impact on the personal life of the sponsee(usually players in the sponsored team, less so coaching staff, club officials andadministrators). The sponsorship arrangement may carry the expectation that the lifestylemessage be adopted and enforced in private activities. This creates an intrusive burden as theplayers, usually the staff most directly impacted by such deals, are not responsible for therecruitment and signing of the sponsor, nor are they usually consulted in such negotiations.Failure to adhere to the sponsor mandated lifestyle can result, and has resulted, in thetermination of the sponsorship arrangement and sanctions beyond the law for individualemployees. Whilst a home loan sponsorship does not result in mandatory debt for the players,lifestyle sponsors will often insist on the mandatory observation of the sponsor message suchas giving up smoking. A car sponsor may give cars to the players they sponsor, but it wouldnot be seen as reasonable to terminate the sponsor-club relationship if a single player drove adifferent make of car to church. Breach of a lifestyle sponsor mandated behaviour, even in aprivate capacity, however can result and has resulted in the termination of the contract.Lifestyle sponsorships are also restricted by the nature of the sponsor product – a road safetyspeed reduction campaign can only offer education sessions for players, they cannot providereduced speed driving for the team. Related problems arise for other physical goods basedlifestyle sponsorships – whilst a skin cancer awareness campaign can provide sun cream, hatsand the ancillary physical materials of the campaign, they cannot guarantee skin cancer freeplayers. As a result, whilst sponsees are required to behave in a restricted manner, they are notguaranteed an outcome from this behaviour.
The TAC Case Study: Lifestyle in Breach
At the core of the lifestyle sponsorship proposal is the assumption that society, as it stands,has a current problem which requires addressing. For example, the TAC “Wipe off 5”campaign with Collingwood is based on the notion that there exists a problem with driverscontinuing to exceed the speed limit by five kilometres an hour. Consequently, sponsorshipwould continue until the social goals of the campaign have been meet (reduction in “5 over”speeding).The Richmond/TAC sponsorship agreement was based on the assumption that drink drivingwas a social problem, and that this problem could be addressed through raising awareness andprofile with the associated sponsorship. When the Richmond player committed the lifestylebreach it was demonstrable proof that the campaign was still necessary. In 16 years of sponsorship, the club had two incidents of road safety lifestyle breaches (2001, 2005)involving drink driving. If the objective of the TAC campaign was to address road safetylifestyle choices of drink driving, then the act of the player committing a drink driving offencewas an opportunity to demonstrate functional similarity in the continuation of thesponsorship.
A question of message
However, what message did the TAC send by terminating the association with Richmond?The lifestyle breach was a clear failure of the sponsor message to get through to a sponsee, letalone the target market. Yet, at the point of lifestyle breach, the TAC elected to walk awayfrom their remaining months of sponsorship and exposure. Presumably, either the campaignhad met its goals (reduce drink driving), or was failing to deliver outcomes (awareness of anti-drink driving message) based on investment.

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