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Case STUDIES
Volume 1 Case Study 10
IN SPORT MANAGEMENT
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Leveraging Sponsorships to Meet Organizational
Marketing Objectives: A Case Study of a Consumer
Packaged Good Product With the Super Bowl
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Thomas J. Aicher
University of Cincinnati
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Michael Olejniczak
Northern Illinois University
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Keywords: marketing, sponsorship, activation, NFL, Super Bowl, North America
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The sponsorship landscape has become increasingly cluttered, making it difficult for brands to stand out
amongst ubiquitous sponsors. The National Football League (NFL) and the NFL Super Bowl have exemplified
the marketing opportunities, business potential, and sponsorship challenges present in large-scale sporting
events. In this case study, we present a fictitious consumer packaged goods beverage company, Staz, and their
sponsorship of the NFL Super Bowl. Through the case study, we outline the objectives Staz is attempting to
attain through its partnership with the NFL Super Bowl, as well as the activities they employed at national,
local and site specific levels. Throughout the case, we present challenges brought on by Staz’s competitors,
shortfalls in Staz’s hospitality activities, and the under-utilization of social media during their Super Bowl
sponsorship campaign. The reader’s goal is to recognize the activities Staz executed well, while idealizing
solutions for the brand’s less effective activation efforts.
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In a relatively short period of time, sponsorship marketing has exploded, as global spending has grown from $2 billion
in 1984 to $46 billion in 2010 (Cornwell, 2008; Ko, Kim, Claussen, & Hee Kim, 2008; IEG, 2011). Sport accounts for
an estimated 87% of sponsorship spending (Fenton, 2008), with the projected North American sport spending in 2011
at $12.4 billion. Due to vast reach and high exposure levels achieved by premier sporting events, much of the sponsorship market is comprised of promotional rights to market with elite sport properties (Ko et al., 2008). Consequently,
the sponsorship landscape has become increasingly cluttered, making it more difficult for brands to stand out amongst
ubiquitous sponsors.
Ko and his colleagues (2008) have diagnosed the two main reasons for the increase in the level of investments for
sponsorship and the quantity of opportunities to partnership with sport organizations as (a) sports’ ability to reach large
and diverse audiences, and (b) Liberman’s (2003) research documenting three of four corporate sponsors have been
satisfied with their partnerships with sport leagues, teams, and organizations. Despite continued price increases for
promotional rights in sports, the industry may continue to grow, as sponsorship has offered great avenues for companies
wishing to increase brand awareness, improve their image, and accomplish diverse business objectives.
The National Football League (NFL) and the NFL Super Bowl have exemplified the marketing opportunities,
business potential, and sponsorship challenges present in large-scale sporting events. The level of investment needed to
partner with the NFL and Super Bowl is comparable to other mega sport events such as the Olympics and World Cup,
which makes it an interesting context to evaluate an organization’s strategies for reaching its objectives. The following
Michael Olejniczak is an account executive at GMR Marketing. Thomas J. Aicher is a professor of sport administration at the
University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH.
This content is copyright © Human Kinetics, Inc. and is not to be distributed, disseminated, or reproduced without permission.
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Theoretic Background
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Common Objectives for Sponsors
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case study will display how sport sponsorship, specific to the Super Bowl, has been leveraged to activate brands’ promotional rights, and achieve various business objectives.
The following case will follow Josephine Hart, a sports marketing executive for a national Consumer Packaged
Goods (CPG) corporation, and NFL sponsor, as she reviews her company’s Super Bowl marketing plan. Reviewing
this case, readers take the position as members of Josephine’s brand marketing team, first developing an understanding
of last year’s efforts, and then discussing how to improve their brand’s Super Bowl XLV marketing shortfalls. It is the
readers’ responsibility to understand the various sponsorship objectives and supplemental marketing activities executed
in order to uncover last year’s activation plan shortfalls.
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Teams, players, leagues, and media coverage have had the ability elicit considerable excitement and emotional attachment in sport’s consumers, which is capable of being exploited by sponsoring brands (Copeland, Frisby, & McCarville, 1996). Three categories of objectives have often been identified in an abundance of sponsorship literature, and
are acknowledged as (a) increasing product and brand awareness, (b) enhancing brand or corporate image, and (c)
increasing purchase intent and sales (Cornwell & Maignan, 1998). DeGaris (2010) discussed these objectives as being
interdependent, as sponsorship awareness can be linked to brand favorability and image, which is often transferred to
purchase intent, which then achieves the ultimate organizational objective of increasing sales. To achieve these objectives, most brands face strong resistance and competition from competitive brands. In order to combat the challenges
associated with elite sport sponsorship, brands must effectively activate their sponsorship through diverse marketing
efforts around the event.
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Challenges with Premium Sport Sponsorship
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Early sponsorship literature cited ‘communication in a low-cluttered environment’ as an advantage for sponsors (Gardner
& Shuman, 1987). However, this benefit no longer resonates, as more recent sporting events have many distractions
interfering with communication of brand messages (Crompton, 1994). Cornwell and her colleagues (2000) uncovered
the negative influence clutter had on a consumer’s perception of and ability to recall and recognize a sponsor. Noise and
clutter brought on by multiple brands around sport may diminish the exclusive and prestigious images previously associated with sport; therefore limiting the effectiveness of sponsorship (Seguin, Lyberger, O’Reilly, & McCarthy, 2005).
One of the greatest sources of noise in the sports business landscape is ambush marketing. Ambush marketing
has been described as a company’s intentional effort to weaken a competitor’s official sponsorship by aligning with
a property without securing the official rights to do so (McKelvey, 2006). By forging an unofficial tie-in with a property, ambushers form a perceived association without paying the expensive rights fees necessary to become an official
sponsor (Nufer & Buhler, 2010). Cornwell, Weeks and Roy (2005) explained this competitor interference likely has
negative effects on the true sponsor’s ability to achieve objectives. Although the ethical implications of ambushing, due
to its aim to confuse the buying public, have been covered in detail (McKelvey, 1994), ambushers rarely cross legal
lines in their strategies (Cornwell, 2008). With little help from the legal system, it is up to the sponsors to ensure their
sponsorship messages stand out amongst intruding attempts from ambushing brands.
Activating the Sponsorship
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In order to receive the most from sponsorship investments, properties have been required to effectively activate their
partnership. In sponsorship literature, the terms ‘leveraging’ and ‘activation’ are often used interchangeably in describing the marketing and promotions brands implement to enhance sponsorship effectiveness (DeGaris, West, & Dodds,
2009). Activation has been defined as “communications that promote the engagement, involvement, or participation
of the sponsorship audience with the sponsor” (Weeks, Cornwell, & Drennan, 2008). These communication efforts
include advertising, sales promotions, public relations (DeGaris et al., 2009), and other forms of brand marketing that
supplement a sponsorship.
This content is copyright © Human Kinetics, Inc. and is not to be distributed, disseminated, or reproduced without permission.
Leveraging Sponsorships: A Case Study   3
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Stotlar (2004) conceptualized a sponsorship model which displayed components of sports that could be activated.
This model’s components included (a) venue signage, (b) hospitality tents, (c) in-game promotions, (d) broadcast and
media advertising, (e) sales kiosks and point-of purchase displays, and (f) ticket access. In sport, of activation can be seen
when brands air commercials during game broadcasts, design in-store displays and product packaging utilizing sport
properties’ logos, develop customer sweepstakes to attend premium sporting events, and place signage around stadiums.
Fahy and his associates (2004) proposed that a company’s financial resources are by far the most important tangible
asset to consider in sponsorship activity. Brands having the financial means and organizational backing certainly may
have an advantage in activating their sponsorship over low budget sponsorship brand. Although there is no industry
standard, some practitioners recommend spending two to three times the cost of the sponsorship in promoting corporate
partnerships (Farrelly & Quester, 1997), while some have spent as much as four times the cost of rights on activation
(IEG Sponsorship Report, 2009).
Oftentimes, sponsors fail to activate effectively because they are unable or unwilling to invest more dollars into
supplementary marketing activities (O’Keefe, Titlebaum, & Hill, 2009). However, with the growth of online capabilities and social communities, sponsors can now activate and engage fans at lower costs. Paul (2007) explained how
implementing interactive promotional campaigns on the internet is a cost-effective way to increase advertisers’ reach.
Further, new media has been suggested to enable brands to communicate more effectively and more often with potential
consumers to develop brand awareness, enhance key customer relationships, and provide relevant opportunities and
content (Roberts, 2006). Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms have utilized new marketing platforms,
integrating marketing activities with new media as a way to increase publicity and sales (Hambrick, 2012).
Super Bowl Sponsorship: The Case of Staz
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Staz’s Profile
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The morning after Super Bowl Sunday, Josephine Hart arrived at her office to an assembly of her coworkers discussing
the game, the big plays, and other events, which led to the Lombardi Trophy’s return the Green Bay Packers. After a brief
conversation about the game, the best and worst commercials, and the immaculate play of Aaron Rodgers, Josephine
made it to her desk to reflect on something more important than the game. As a brand director for sports marketing at
a large CPG beverage company, it was Josephine’s responsibility to plan and execute a Super Bowl activation program
for their brand, Staz, making their NFL partnership come alive to end its 2010 official sponsorship campaign.
Focusing on a potential customer base broken down by consumption behavior, rather than demographic information, the primary target market for Staz includes individuals who consume their product, or a similar product, six or
more times a week. The group falling within this consumption market, and the target market Josephine is tasked with
reaching, includes prominently males aged 21-29. Representing a valuable audience for Staz to reach in alignment
with their target market, in 2010 the NFL fan-base was composed of nearly 60% males, and having 30% of their fans
being between the ages of 18 and 34 (Fan Demographics, 2010).
Feeling constant pressure from upper management to find more effective ways to generate and improve return on
investment (ROI) from Staz’s $20 million per year sponsorship of the NFL, Josephine must recap Super Bowl XLV’s
objectives and activation execution to illustrate the value of elite sport sponsorships for Staz’s Board of Directors. Further,
Josephine and her team must present the challenges and shortfalls from Super Bowl XLV, and show upper management
how these issues will be resolved for next year’s big game. As part of Josephine’s team, it is your task to understand
the objectives of sponsorship marketing and activation, realize the threats affecting a sponsorship campaign’s success,
and identify methods to more effectively activate Staz’s NFL Super Bowl sponsorship. Following is a review of the
strategies implemented by Staz, and methods taken by its competitors to detract from the sponsorship.
Staz’s Sponsorship Rights
With their official NFL partnership, Staz had access to leverage all 2010-2011 league events, including the NFL Draft,
NFL Kickoff, the Pro Bowl, and the Super Bowl. Also, with their exclusive deal with the NFL, Staz was allowed
exclusive rights to utilize league trademarks in their own marketing material. Staz leveraged this right on product
This content is copyright © Human Kinetics, Inc. and is not to be distributed, disseminated, or reproduced without permission.
4  Olejniczak and Aicher
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packaging, advertisements, and point-of-sale (POS) retail stands, by using official verbiage and logos no other brand
in their category could use, such as the title ‘Super Bowl’, the official Super Bowl XLV logo, and the NFL Shield.
Further, being an official league partner, Staz was allocated a number of Super Bowl tickets and merchandise, which
the brand was entitled to use for sweepstakes and promotions. Because NFL sponsorship does not include marketing
rights for individual franchises, Staz held no official marketing partnership with the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Green
Bay Packers, the two teams who played in Super Bowl XLV.
Staz’s Marketing Objectives
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On a broad level, Staz had three objectives. First, Staz wanted to build awareness of the NFL and Super Bowl partnership on a national level. Secondly, the brand concentrated its presence in the local Super Bowl market, and executed
marketing programs through targeting bars, retailers, restaurants and other areas of purchase. Lastly, Staz wanted to
leverage its league partnership and rights to drive national retail sales on the biggest consumption day of the entire year
for the product category, while also using the day to spark greater sales from already-established distributors and buyers.
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Build awareness and enhance image.  Staz first acquired official NFL rights in an effort to position their brand in
a way making them appear to have a great amount of market share. Using the national media platform, Staz sought
to build greater basic brand awareness of their NFL and Super Bowl partnership to influence a shift in consumer
mindset regarding what was then a relatively regional brand, often falling in top-of-mind consideration behind two
other category giants. Similar to a decade ago, when Staz first entered into their agreement, maintaining and enhancing awareness of the NFL partnership remained a crucial objective. The brand has used concentrated national retail,
media, and out-of-home (OOH) marketing in high traffic areas to draw attention its NFL affiliation.
Execute marketing programs in local market.  Specific to the Super Bowl, another main objective for Staz was
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to execute heavily in the Super Bowl host market, Dallas-Fort Worth. Aligning with the Super Bowl through NFL
and game-themed retail displays, on-premise promotions at restaurants and local shopping centers, Staz used their
marketing activities and brand’s presence in buying situations to drive success and sales in the host market.
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Drive national sales on biggest consumption day of the year.   Much like many food and beverage CPGs, the
Super Bowl is one of the biggest days for consumption in Staz’s product category. Accordingly, Staz attempted to
capitalize by driving nation-wide sales before and during the game. With this objective in mind, Staz attempted to
provide creative and exciting ways to build their retail partnerships, and increase sales for not only their brand, but
also the outlets carrying Staz’s products.
Build relationships with consumers and partners.  Thought to be one of the most desired sporting events to
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attend, Staz also sought to provide customer incentives through engagement marketing programs. This objective
was two-fold. Staz wanted to provide indirect customers (consumers) opportunities to win trips, tickets and Super
Bowl merchandise through purchases of their product. Secondly, Staz wanted to utilize its official NFL partnership
to enhance their direct customer (distributors) relationships by providing their best and biggest customers tickets to
the game, hotels, and hospitality, and other premium access for the weekend.
Staz’s Super Bowl Activation Strategies
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Staz executed a number of activation strategies to communicate its NFL and Super Bowl partnership. The objectives
were to effectively communicate the Super Bowl partnership on the national scale, execute heavy marketing activities
in the Dallas-Fort Worth local market, and to provide hospitality access to the brand’s best and biggest customers.
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National activation.  In December of 2010, Staz began placing both the NFL Shield and Super Bowl XLV logo on
their packaging. Further engaging customers, Staz offered a chance for average consumers to gain exclusive Super
Bowl access by taking a picture of a ‘Staz Tag’ (similar to a QR code) on the brand package, and sending their picture to a specified number. Taking a picture of this package ‘Staz Tag’ entered fans into a drawing to win access to
such prizes as tickets to the Super Bowl, roundtrip airfare to Texas, Cowboys Stadium tours, invites to official Super
This content is copyright © Human Kinetics, Inc. and is not to be distributed, disseminated, or reproduced without permission.
Leveraging Sponsorships: A Case Study   5
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Bowl parties, and autographed and official Super Bowl merchandise. Staz used the slogan ‘Win unthinkable access
to the NFL Super Bowl” on its packaging and many retail displays driving traffic to its products. Along with placing
‘Staz Tags’ on all brand packaging, beginning in December of 2010, the brand also placed the tag on nation-wide
billboards, national marketing pieces, and other out-of-home advertisements.
Due to the high costs associated with placing a 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl, Staz did not utilize
the event’s broadcast to nationally activate their partnership. Instead, the brand maintained a season-long and postseason presence on media outlets covering the NFL to communicate its league association. Employing advertising space
during pregame, in-game and post-game shows on major national networks broadcasting NFL games, and sponsoring
a weekly segment called “Staz’s Ice Cold Facts” on the elite national sports-centered channel, Staz promoted their
league association on many NFL-centered platforms leading up to the Super Bowl.
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Local activation.  Executing on local platforms, Staz covered retail stores, signage around Dallas-Fort Worth,
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restaurants, and Super Bowl-specific events with their brand displays leveraging the Super Bowl XLV affiliation.
Retail stores. At some of the larger supermarkets and retailers in the Dallas-Fort Worth region, Staz promoted its
NFL and event association by using end-cap posters at the end of each shopping aisle, and billboard-sized ceiling banners throughout the store, communicating the partnership. At the supermarket directly across from Cowboys Stadium,
Staz had the entire store covered with their brand, even in areas not sel …
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