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Event Marketing

Event Marketing

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Published by: THOUFEEK on Nov 11, 2010
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An
IMC
Approach
to
Event Marketing:The Effects
of
Sponsorship and Experienceon Customer Attitudes
JULIE
Z.
SNEATH
University
of
SouthAlabamajsneath@usouthal.edu
R.
ZACHARY FINNEY
University
of
SouthAlabamazfinney@usouthal.edu
ANGELINE GRACECLOSE
The University
of
Nevada Las Vegasangelinegrace@gmail.com
The number of companies sponsoring events has increased over the past decade.Yet, for many firms it is unclear how the effectiveness of event marketing activitiescan be measured. The study examines outcomes associated with an automobilemanufacturer's sponsorship of a six-day charitable sporting event. Data for the studywere collected from a sample of 565 spectators in five cities during the six-day event.Results provide evidence for inclusion of event marketing in the company'spromotional mix and indicate that experience with the sponsor's products during theevent may enhance event outcomes. The role of event marketing as a form ofcommunication is discussed, and recommendations and directions for future researchare suggested.
INTRODUCTION
EVENT MARKETING
is an
increasingly importantcomponent
in the
promotions mix.
In
response
to
the many challenges facing traditional media,
in-
cluding cost, clutter,
and
fragmentation, the use ofevents
in
which companies
can
have face-to-facecontact with their target audience
has
grown
and
become
a
valuable contributor
to
marketing com-munications programs.
It is
estimated that 22
per-
cent
of
total marketing communications budgetsare dedicated
to
event-related sponsorship activi-ties (MPI Foundation, 2004).
Not
surprisingly,
the
fees paid
to
sponsor events, along with
the cam-
paigns
and
promotions designed
to
leverage
the
sponsorship, have also grown. Despite these
in-
creases, event sponsorship
is
still
a
"new activity"for many firms (Cornwell
and
Maignan,
1998,
p.
7),
and
many companies
are
uncertain
how the
effects
of
sponsorship activities (Hulks, 1980; Mc-Donald, 1991),
and
their relationship
to
other
ele-
ments
in
the promotional mix, should be measured.The purpose
of
this study
is to
examine
out-
comes associated with
the
sponsorship
of a
chari-table sporting event
by
an automobile manufacturer.Specifically, it investigates (a) perceptions of the titlesponsor
and its
products,
and (b) how
experiencewith
the
sponsor's products during
the
event
in-
fluences spectators' perceptions
and
likelihood
of
purchase.
A
description
of
the event and sponsor
is
provided, along with
a
review
of
trends
in
eventmarketing
and
integrated marketing communica-tions (IMC). Following this
review,
the research ques-tions
and
results
of the
study
are
presented.
In
addition,
the
importance
of
event marketing
as a
component
of an IMC
strategy
is
discussed,
and
managerial implications
and
directions
for
futureresearch
are
presented.
THE EVENT
The event
in
this study involves
a
six-day chari-table sporting event that consists
of a
series
of
festivals across 11 cities.
In
2004,
its
second year,the event attracted more than 750,000 spectators.This number
was
identified using crowd esti-mates.
In
addition
to the
sporting event, attrac-tions
in the
host cities include entertainment,
a
health exposition,
and
exhibits that
are
providedby
the
event beneficiary, title,
and
other spon-
DOI: 10.1017/S0021849905050440
December 2005 JOURBRL OF RDUERTISIDG RESERRCR
373
 
IMC APPROACH TO EVENT MARKETING
sors. Celebrity athletes help to increaseattendance, as well as demand for spon-sorship and hospitality opportunities atthe event.In a sense, this is one level of cause-related marketing. The official beneficiaryof the six-day affair is a public-privatecoalition of organizations whose primaryfunction is to promote health awarenessand education and to increase access toquality healthcare. During the event, avariety of activities and health-focusedbooths are provided by coalition mem-bers in each of the host cities. Due to thelarge numbers of spectators and inter-national media coverage, the beneficiaryestimates that the value of media expo-sure for the 2004 event was $2.5 million.The title sponsor for the event is anautomobile manufacturer. More than adozen other firms sponsor the event andactivities in host cities. In addition to nam-ing rights, the title sponsor's name andlogo are prominently displayed through-out the event on banners, signage, volun-teers' shirts, and on the large-screen TVthat projects the race to the crowd duringthe sporting event. The sponsor's name isalso mentioned over a public address sys-tem by an announcer who is explainingwhat is happening in the competition.In each host city, the automobile man-ufacturer has exhibits (tents) in which itscars and trucks are displayed. Althoughspectators are not provided with oppor-tunities to test drive any vehicles duringthe event, they are able to interact withthe vehicle and speak with the manufac-turer's representatives. Those who attendthe exhibits also have their names enteredinto a drawing for a new vehicle. Thenames and customer information col-lected from this drawing also provide amarketing purpose. A form of permission-based marketing, the drawing entrantsmay elect to receive promotional materi-als and updates from the sponsor.
A major difference between marketing with an event andmany other communication methods is that events offeropportunities for personai interaction with products.
EVENT MARKETING
The term "event marketing" is used todescribe a variety of activities, includingthe "marketing of events and marketingwith events" (Cornwell and Maignan, 1998,
p.
5). The marketing of an event is notrelated to sponsorship, whereas market-ing with events entails the promotion ofsponsors through the sponsorship vehi-
cle.
The latter, marketing with events, helpsto accomplish the firm's objectives throughevent-related communications and expe-riences. A major difference between mar-keting with an event and many othercommunication methods is that events of-fer opportunities for personal interactionwith products.Defined as "the underwriting of a spe-cial event to support corporate objectives"(Javalgi, Traylor, Gross, and Lampman,
1994,
p. 48), including sales, brand aware-ness, and image enhancement (Gardner andShuman, 1987; Gross, Traylor, and Shu-man, 1987), event marketing is one ofthe fastest growing forms of marketingcommunication. In
2003,
$152 billion wasspent on event marketing
{Wall Street
Jour-
nal,
2005). Compared with other indus-tries, automobile manufacturers andhealthcare firms spend more on externalevents,
i.e.,
those targeting customers, pros-pects,and vendors, than they spend on in-ternal events, i.e., those that are designedfor employees, sales teams, and partners(MPI Foundation, 2004).Increased spending on event marketing,relative to other forms of promotion, sug-gests there
are
benefits to sponsoring events.Research by Crimmins and Horn
(1996)
sug-gests that sponsorship of high profileevents has the potential to be "worthmillions of dollars" to the sponsor (p. 11).Furthermore, a recent survey of marketingexecutives at major
U.S.
corporations indi-cates that event marketing offers the great-est ROI, followed by advertising, directmarketing, public relations, sales promo-tion, and internet advertising (MPI Foun-dation, 2004). While the investment tocommunicate via a sporting event can behigh, the cost may be offset by the in-creased amount of time customers are able
to
spend interacting with
a
company's prod-ucts. Hence, event marketing may be seenas a unique opportunity to integrate thefirm's other marketing communication ac-tivities, such as advertising, public rela-tions, and direct marketing, with
a
hands-onexperience that may be provided by anevent. In a sense, event marketing enablescustomers to interact with the brand.In the automotive and healthcare indus-tries, event marketing has become animportant component in companies' pro-motional strategies. According to a recentstudy, 53 percent of automotive execu-tives and 44 percent of healthcare execu-tives view event marketing as an importantcommunication tool, indicating that theirROI from event marketing continues tostrengthen (MPI Foundation, 2004). Firmsin other industries (e.g., airline, con-sumer goods) are also beginning to spenda greater proportion of their promotionaldollars on event marketing (IEG Sponsor-ship Report, 2000). However, much likeother forms of promotion, issues of mea-surement, cost, and the clutter of multiplesponsors have been raised by both corpo-rations and researchers.
374 JDORORL OF ROUEBTISIOG RESEBRCH December 2005
 
IMC APPROACH TO EVENT MARKETING
IP]aying a sponsorship fee to have [al company's name... associated with an event does not guarantee thatcustomers wiii recognize the sponsorship, let aione pos-itiveiy aiter their attitudes or behavior.
EVENT MARKETING OBJECTIVESAND MEASUREMENTObjectives
Most firms have specific objectives whenthey choose to engage in event marketing(Stevens, 1984), such as sales, awareness,and image enhancement. However, pay-ing a sponsorship fee to have the compa-ny's name merely associated with an eventdoes not guarantee that customers willrecognize the sponsorship, let alone pos-itively alter their attitudes or behavior.Although the figures released by someorganizations suggest a relationship be-tween sponsorship and increased sales,the same results are not seen by all firms.For instance, up to two-thirds of the spon-sors of the 1996 Olympics did not achievetheir sales goals (Helyar, 1997). While eventmarketing may be used to accomplishshort-term goals (Bacigalupo, 1996), it isparticularly effective when the objectiveis to enhance corporate identity, aware-ness, equity, and/or image (Brown andDacin,
1997;
Meenaghan, 1991), Event mar-keting is also valuable when the firm'sobjectives are to support the communityand reinforce relationships with consum-ers and other business organizations(Mount and Niro, 1995).
Measurement
Measuring the effectiveness of com-ponents in an IMC is challenging (Schultzand Kitchen, 1997; Swain, 2004). For manyorganizations, it is unclear how event-related marketing activities, in particu-lar, should be evaluated (Abratt andGrobler, 1989; Cornwell, 1995), A studyconducted by Gardner and Shuman(1987) finds that nearly half of thecompanies surveyed did not measureevent marketing outcomes. Moreover,27 percent of the companies were shownto assess effectiveness solely through salesand market share even though, as acommunications-oriented activity, eventmarketing should be evaluated in termsof its relative effectiveness as a promo-tional element (Javalgi, Traylor, Gross, andLampman, 1994), Measurement based onlevel of media coverage may not be ap-propriate either, because it does not pro-vide information about recall or attitudechange (Pham, 1991).In recent years, the concept of IMC hasemerged as the primary method for eval-uating a firm's promotional efforts (Corn-well and Maignan, 1998). Rather thanevaluate the effects of individual commu-nications, the IMC approach suggests that
The primary chaiienge for marketers continues to be thedifficuity of separating the effects of the sponsorshipfrom the effects of other promotionai activities.
the effects of one promotional methodcannot be considered in isolation fromothers. Further, the IMC approach sug-gests that unlike sales- and profit-orientedapproaches, it may be more appropriateto measure event marketing effectivenessusing exposure-based methods (Hulks,1980), tracking measures that measure re-call, awareness, and attitudes (McDonald,1991), and experiments that allow for con-trol of the effects of advertising (Pham,1991).The primary challenge for marketerscontinues to be the difficulty of separat-ing the effects of the sponsorship fromthe effects of other promotional activities(i.e., spillover effects). In the current study,the sponsor's promotional activities willbe examined and effectiveness will beevaluated using (a) spectators' experi-ence with sponsor exhibits, (b) attitudestoward the sponsor and its products, and(c) likelihood of considering the spon-sor's products for a future vehiclepurchase.
METHODQuestionnaire
A
survey instrument consisting of
18
ques-tions designed to gauge awareness, atti-tudes, and behaviors was administered tospectators attending the event. The ques-tionnaire consists of several parts. Thefirst part asks participants to identify, froma list of media and interpersonal sourcesof communication, how they heard aboutthe event. Respondents were also askedto indicate which event-related activitiesthey had experienced while attending theevent. Questions designed to determinespectators' attitudes toward the sponsorand its products were formulated, andinformation was gathered concerning prod-uct perceptions and vehicle preferences.Finally, respondents were asked to an-swer classification questions (age, in-come, and gender).
December 2005 JOURnOL OF
lDUERTISlOG
 RESEHRCH 375

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