Lifestyle Sponsorship and Player Lifestyle Breach: Opportunity, Not Loss?

Dr Stephen Dann and Dr Susan Dann Abstract In 2005, the Victorian Transport Accident Commission (TAC) ended their 16 year sponsorship of the Richmond Tigers after a player was found guilty of speeding, drink driving and 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 TAC felt 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 to strengthen their campaign, and their sponsorship through the use of an intentional schema mismatch. 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. Sponsorship Sponsorship has been defined as the provision of assistance either financial or in-kind to an activity 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 a sponsor and a sponsee whereby the latter receives a fee and the former receives rights to associate itself with the activity sponsored, and (2) the marketing of the association by the sponsor. Rifon et al (2004) presents a comprehensive literature summary of the expectations and purpose of sponsorship, repeated here briefly in table format (Table 1). Table 1: Sponsorship Expectations and Purposes Influence attitude toward the sponsor awareness of sponsors influence consumer recall purchase intentions sponsor image Authors McDaniel 1999; Speed and Thompson 2000; Stipp 1998 Bennett 1999; Bloxham 1998; Pham and Joliar 2001 Bennett 1999; Hansen and Scotwin 1995; Nicholls, Roslow, and Dublish 1999 Madrigal 2001; McDaniel 1999 D'Astous and Blitz 1995; Otker and Hayes 1987

Sponsorship success depends on the direct or indirect relevance between the sponsor’s message, and the event being sponsored. Gwinner (1997) clarifies this match as direct relevance where the there is a functional based similarity as occurs where the sponsors products are used in the event (eg Falken Tyres and the Gold Coast Indy 300). Indirect relevance is where the “image-based similarity” of the match between the core values of the consumer and the values represented by the sponsors and sponsorship event (Gillette and Gold Coast Indy 300). Lifestyle Sponsorship

Lifestyle sponsorships are those sponsorships where the aim of the arrangement is to promote an attitude, behavioural or lifestyle change, such as reduced smoking, anti-speeding or antidrink driving campaigns. In recent years, more NGO and social causes have come to use sponsorship of sports and the arts as a mechanism to deliver their social change message, due to the intangible nature of the sponsorship and the lifestyle message. For the purpose of this paper, “lifestyle sponsorship” is defined as “the provision of financial assistance, or in-kind assistance to an activity by an organisation for the purpose of promoting lifestyle or behavioural change objectives”. The core identifier of a lifestyle sponsorship is the product being promoted by the sponsorship is not a commercial product (eg Bundaberg Rum), 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 is to 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 set of objectives to commercial campaigns. In commercial campaigning, success is determined by increased ROI and sales based on the sponsorship. Successful sponsorships which result in ongoing sales should be continued to maintain commercial momentum. Lifestyle campaigns which 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 (reduction in speeding, repositioning drink driving as irresponsible) would then be able to withdraw their sponsorship once the campaign goals have been met. Consequently, lifestyle sponsorships are targeted where a problem exists to be solved, rather than 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 sponsorship relevance? Figure 1: Relevance of Lifestyle Sponsorship
Event Functional Similarity Relevance Image Similarity Event Image / Team Image Celebrity Association ? Non Event Sponsee's personal life

Gwinner (1997) sets out functional based similarity as occurring where the sponsor's products are used in the event. Within the context and confines of the sports sponsorship arena, barring motorsport, there is limited opportunity for most lifestyle sponsor messages to occur within the parameters of the game event. Even in motorsport, whilst drink driving is prohibited by the rules of motorsport, the Indy 300 is not the ideal opportunity for functional based endorsement of "Wipe off 5" or "Every K over is a killer". In order for functional similarity to be used by a lifestyle sponsor, the sponsees must engage in the appropriate lifestyle outside of the context of the sporting event. Understanding Lifestyle Sponsorship II: The Lifestyle Sponsorship Burden

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 and administrators). The sponsorship arrangement may carry the expectation that the lifestyle message be adopted and enforced in private activities. This creates an intrusive burden as the players, usually the staff most directly impacted by such deals, are not responsible for the recruitment 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 the termination of the sponsorship arrangement and sanctions beyond the law for individual employees. 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 such as giving up smoking. A car sponsor may give cars to the players they sponsor, but it would not be seen as reasonable to terminate the sponsor-club relationship if a single player drove a different make of car to church. Breach of a lifestyle sponsor mandated behaviour, even in a private 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 safety speed reduction campaign can only offer education sessions for players, they cannot provide reduced speed driving for the team. Related problems arise for other physical goods based lifestyle sponsorships – whilst a skin cancer awareness campaign can provide sun cream, hats and the ancillary physical materials of the campaign, they cannot guarantee skin cancer free players. As a result, whilst sponsees are required to behave in a restricted manner, they are not guaranteed 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 drivers continuing to exceed the speed limit by five kilometres an hour. Consequently, sponsorship would 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 driving was a social problem, and that this problem could be addressed through raising awareness and profile with the associated sponsorship. When the Richmond player committed the lifestyle breach 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 safety lifestyle choices of drink driving, then the act of the player committing a drink driving offence was an opportunity to demonstrate functional similarity in the continuation of the sponsorship. 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, let alone the target market. Yet, at the point of lifestyle breach, the TAC elected to walk away from their remaining months of sponsorship and exposure. Presumably, either the campaign had met its goals (reduce drink driving), or was failing to deliver outcomes (awareness of anti-drink driving message) based on investment.

How different was this message failure to any other drink driving incident recorded in Victoria in 2005? In the event of a lifestyle sponsorship breach, such as drink driving or speeding with a road safety sponsorship, the breach would result in an immediate mismatch between the actions of the individual(s) and the lifestyle messages. However, the nature of a lifestyle sponsorship creates an unusual sponsorship schema dynamic, since the purpose of a lifestyle sponsorship is to promote an attitude or behavioural change where the sponsor perceives a need for a change. Where a campaign is targeted at addressing a social problem (drink driving), the continuation of the campaign is based on demonstrating the continued existence of the problem. The high profile breach of the lifestyle message by the Richmond player was demonstrable proof of the need to continue promoting the TAC lifestyle message. Repairing the lifestyle breach Sponsorship and celebrity endorsement are both heavily dependent on schema congruence for success in message transfer. Schema congruity is based on the principle of the individual having a schema, or organized structure of associations and expectations, against which the message from the advertising can be matched (Bettman, 1979 in Martin, 1996). Where there is a good fit between the expectation and the message, the schema is congruent and positive attitudes towards the product are formed (Martin, 1996, Cornwell and Maignan, 1998, McDaniel 1999). The need for congruity between endorser, product and message in the area of schema congruity theory has been heavily researched (Fiske, 1982; Fiske & Taylor, 1991; Myers-Levy & Tybout, 1989; Sujan & Bettman, 1989; Martin, 1996, Rifon et al, 2004). Schema Mismatch: The Lifestyle Sponsorship Get-out-of-jail-free card. Where the sponsorship, message and sponsee do not match the schema, the incongruity causes a negative response (Martin, 1996). However, where there is a moderate incongruity, or a partial match, this increases the amount of thought the individual puts into assessing the sponsorship message. Hastie (1984 in Rifon et al 2004) argues the mismatch increases the recall of the sponsor message due to the stronger, more elaborate schema that is created by the additional interpretation. Rifon et al (2004) is slightly less optimistic, illustrating that the schema theory only confirms the increased amount of thought, not the actual outcome. Indeed, Martin (1996) cautions that where additional processing leads the respondent to conclude that there has been a mismatch, it will result in far stronger negative feelings than an immediately recognised mismatch.

Hypothetically Speaking: Resolving a Lifestyle Breach There are three key assumptions to resolving a lifestyle breach. First, the purpose of the lifestyle sponsorship was to address a social change need whereby a social problem was to be solved, limited or have attitudes toward it changed. Second, that the sponsorship arrangement is predicated on sponsees following mandated sponsor approved lifestyle choices. Third, a breach of the lifestyle sponsor mandated behaviour can be rectified by some component of the sponsor's social change product. There are four steps to resolving the lifestyle breach as a positive outcome for the lifestyle sponsor. Step 1: Assessing the impact of the breach. For example, the TAC had two instances of lifestyle breach during the 16 years. On the first instance, they elected to warn the club, and on the second instance they terminated the relationship. Damage control for the lifestyle sponsor is based on the breadth of coverage, and the confusion between the sponsor message and the message sent by the action. In the

TAC case, the media coverage of the incident emphasised the incongruity between the TAC sponsorship message and the actions of a sponsee employee. Step 2: Reaffirm the purpose of the Lifestyle Sponsorship Message In the case of the TAC sponsorship of Richmond, the message of "If you drink and drive you're a bloody idiot" was based on the need to change attitudes relating to drink driving, and those who engage in the behaviour. When the Richmond player was charged with drink driving and speeding, it indicates a current need/demand in the market for continued reinforcement of the message. It did not demonstrate an opportunity for TAC to withdraw from the propagation of the message, since one of their own sponsees had breached the lifestyle, thus indicating the campaign had not fulfilled its target objectives. Step 3: Use schema mismatch as a basis for continuing the sponsorship in breach The initial reaction to a lifestyle breach is to withdraw the sponsorship as the image based similarity is immediately tainted by the actions of the sponsee in breach. However, relevance in the campaign is a twofold factor, and the breach presents an opportunity to capitalise on functional based similarity by demonstrating the new use of the sponsor endorsed lifestyle in the life of the sponsee who was in breach. In the case of the TAC, continuing to support Richmond and the player involved would have demonstrated functional based similarity (eg the education about drinking and driving could be demonstrated as having an impact if the player continued to not drink drive). It also produces an opportunity for the player in breach to demonstrate a high profile and public dis-adoption of their inappropriate behaviour with a positive publicity generating conscious adoption of the lifestyle message. Step 4: Endorse the lifestyle message with the sponsee who was in breach. The fourth step is dependent on the relationship between the sponsor and sponsee, and what arrangements govern the use of employees of the sponsee organisation. In addition, this should be a voluntary process whereby the individual in breach is given the opportunity to "redeem" themselves by involvement in the campaign. Dann (1998) endorsed the concept of "dead celebrity endorsement" whereby celebrities for whom a social campaign failed (in this case, Princess Diana) should be used for endorsing the message of the campaign. In the TAC case, by the nature of their sponsorship arrangement (naming rights), they would also have access to the individual players. The opportunity presented by a sponsored player in lifestyle breach was to capitalise on the event, and make use of celebrity endorsement schema mismatch to have the individual subsequently endorse the road safety message that had failed him. By endorsing a modified version of the campaign, the sponsee in breach demonstrates credibility (having engaged in the negative behaviour), expertise (has experienced the breach), trustworthiness (voluntary admission of breach and involvement) and empathy (has felt the emotional consequences of the breach). These factors have been identified as key influences the effectiveness of a celebrity endorsement of product or message (Walker, Langmeyer & Langmeyer, 1992; Ohanian, 1990, 1991, Gwinner and Eaton, 1999). Having the sponsee who breached the lifestyle step admit the breach, admit remorse, and endorse the campaign message should strengthen the brand and product. Conclusion Having the Richmond player front the campaign where they admitted to being "a bloody idiot" for drink driving would enhance the credibility of the message the celebrity endorsement as a real person (credibility) in a real scenario (expertise) admitting error (empathy) and owning up to their actions (trustworthiness) would have greater credibility than

an artificially constructed commercial. Rather than a lifestyle sponsorship breach being a negative event for the campaign, it remains an opportunity, not a threat, for the proactive lifestyle sponsor willing to stick to their core business – addressing a social need.

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