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Abstract

Over the last twenty years, sponsorship has been used very widely as an important marketing tool that enhances corporate image. Since it has proven to be effective in creating positive perceptions of the company, many marketers have sponsored a variety of consumer-related activities. However, sponsorship has also been criticized as it can be related to ambush marketing and excessive commercialism which trigger negative consumer responses. Unlike the existing study on the sponsorship marketing, this study intends to investigate its negative effects. The study was conducted based on the persuasion knowledge model which was proposed by Fristed and Wright (1994) and investigated consumer responses to ulterior motive of sponsorship marketing. According to the persuasion knowledge model, consumers activate their persuasion knowledge to see the agent`s commercial motive; there are several antecedents to the persuasion knowledge activation such as the source familiarity, the marketer`s effort and the appropriateness of persuasion. Also, existing studies have pointed out the sponsor-event fit and the sponsor`s integrity as crucial factors which influence consumer attitude. By taking a survey of people who watched the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, we tried to examine how the sponsor familiarity and the sponsor-event fit as pre-existing variables which have been formed based on the prior consumer knowledges/memories as well as the sponsor effort and the sponsor integrity as situational variables activated based on the specific persuasion episode influenced persuasion knowledge. We also tried to test the potential moderating role of sponsorship type (i.e., official sponsorship versus marketing focused) on the causal path from the persuasion knowledge and the consumer attitude from the perspective of the appropriateness of persuasion. The results show that the sponsor familiarity, the sponsor-event fit, and the marketer`s effort have significant effects on the persuasion knowledge activation, and the sponsorship type has moderating role in the sponsorship effectiveness. The theoretical and practical implications of the results are discussed.

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