A framework for understanding the factors that influence spectators' recall and recognition of embedded sponsorship stimuli
Potwarka, Luke Richard.
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Now, more than ever, sponsors of athletic events demand to see evidence of a commercial return, such as enhanced brand awareness, for their investment of cash or non-cash resources (Lough et aI., 2000). The most common way to measure the impact of perimeter signage (Le., any billboard or sign that displays a company's brand name and/or logo and which surrounds the playing area) on spectators' awareness of event sponsors has been through the use of brand name recall and recognition tests (Shilbury & Berriman, 1996). Recall testing requires spectators to list all of the sponsors they can remember seeing at, for example, an athletic event, strictly from memory and without any help (Cuneen & Hannan, 1993). With recognition testing, spectators are required to identify sponsors from a prepared list which include "dummy" brand names (i.e., sponsors that are present in the list but which do not actually sponsor the event). In order to determine whether sponsors' brand awareness objectives are being met, it is important for sport and recreation marketers to understand what influences a spectator's ability to remember (Le., recall and/or recognize) the brand names of companies who advertise on perimeter signage. The purpose this study was to examine the factors that influence spectators' recall and recognition of embedded sponsorship stimuli (i.e., company brand names on perimeter signage surrounding the play area) at a Canadian University's men's basketball game and football game. These factors included the number of games spectators attended over the course of the season (i.e., repeated exposure to sponsorship stimuli), spectators' level of involvement with the event, and spectators' level of involvement with the advertisements (i.e., perimeter signage). This study also examined the differences between recall and recognition as a means of measuring spectators' awareness of sponsors, and attempted to determine if there are sport differences in spectators' recall and recognition of perimeter signage. Upon leaving the football stadium or gymnasium, spectators were approached, at random, by trained research assistants located at each exit and asked to complete a brief survey questionnaire. Respondents completed the survey on-site. A total of 358 completed surveys were collected from spectators who attended the football (N = 277) and basketball (N = 81) games. The data suggest that football and basketball respondents recognized more sponsors' brand names than they recalled. In addition, football respondents who were highly involved with the event (i.e., those individuals who viewed attending the events as fun, interesting and exciting) attended more games over the course of the season and had significantly higher brand name recognition of sponsors who advertised on perimeter signage than those individuals with low involvement with the athletic event. Football respondents who were highly involved with the sponsors' advertisements (i.e., those individuals who viewed sponsors' perimeter signage as appealing, valuable and important) had significantly higher brand name recall of event sponsors than those individuals with low involvement with these sponsors' advertisements. Repeated exposure to perimeter signage did not have a significant influence on football or basketball respondents' recall or recognition of sponsors. Finally, the data revealed that football respondents had significantly higher recall of sponsors' brand names than basketball respondents. Conversely, basketball respondents had significantly higher recognition of sponsors' brand names than did football respondents.