Schnittka, Oliver, Alexander Himme, Dominik Papies and David Pellenwessel

Are sponsors blamed for edging off? Consumer reactions to sponsorship terminations

Journal of Business Economics, 87 (7): 984-943, (2017).

Copy reference link   DOI: 10.1007/s11573-017-0859-3

Abstract: Firms regularly terminate sponsorships, even without publicly known misconduct by the sponsee such as athlete doping. Consumer reactions to these sponsorship terminations by firms have not been studied despite being a regular occurrence. Using a set of experimental studies, this paper analyzes consumer reactions to these sponsorship terminations (i.e., early and non-renewal) that were not caused by a sponsee’s misconduct, the underlying process that causes the reactions, and the role of several moderating factors (trust, power balance, and locus of control). Our findings reveal that sponsorship terminations have a negative effect on sponsors’ brand images‐-particularly early terminations that occur before the end of a contract‐-because consumers perceive these sponsorship terminations as unfair. The results also suggest that a termination is particularly harmful for the sponsor’s perceived fairness if the sponsor is powerful and if the termination decision is under the sponsor’s control. Further, the termination effect is particularly strong for firms that consumers trust.

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