Inferring corporate motives: how deal characteristics shape sponsorship perceptions

David M. Woisetschläger*, Christof Backhaus, T. Bettina Cornwell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sponsoring joins brands with sports, the arts, and events in mutually beneficial partnerships. In the context of sports, the authors examine how sponsorship deal characteristics affect consumer inferences, attitudes, and behavioral intentions toward a sponsor and a sport property in a partnership. The authors develop a conceptual framework that links a holistic set of sponsorship deal characteristics (i.e., contract length, regional proximity of the sponsor, sponsorship fee, and sponsorship type) to individual consumer perceptions. Study 1 tests the framework in a field study of 2,787 consumers across 44 different sponsorships. Study 2 largely confirms the findings of the field study in an experimental field study. Overall, the results show that regionally proximate and long-term partnerships benefit as consumers make positive inferences about partnership fit and sponsor motives. In contrast, consumers associate high sponsorship fees, international sponsors, and naming-rights relationships with calculative motives and perceive these factors negatively. For managers, finding that sponsorship deal characteristics matter is important, not only for sponsor–property relationships but also for relationships between the sponsoring brands and consumers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-141
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Marketing
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017

Bibliographical note



  • sponsorship
  • sports marketing
  • motives
  • multilevel field study
  • field experiment


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