Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science

, Volume 42, Issue 5, pp 490–510 | Cite as

Corporate sponsorship as an image platform: understanding the roles of relationship fit and sponsor–sponsee similarity

  • Ravi PappuEmail author
  • T. Bettina Cornwell
Original Empirical Research


Studies have shown that the fit between a sponsoring brand and the sport, art, or charity sponsored influences outcomes such as brand awareness and image. This research adds the role of sponsor–sponsee similarity to the discussion of fit. The authors argue that similarity interacts with fit when conditions evoke suspicion or disrupt typical inferences regarding sponsorship relationships. Interaction is particularly important when the sponsor seeks to develop its image by association with a cause, and is also of consequence for the cause in terms of its branding. Three studies test sponsorship effects with respect to blood donation and cancer prevention organizations. Results support the predicted moderated mediation model, showing that similarity between a corporate sponsor and a sponsored cause can interact with fit, influencing sponsorship evaluations directly and shaping attitudes and behavioral intentions toward constituents indirectly. This work reveals a counterintuitive effect of similarity for some sponsorship relationships.


Sponsorship fit Similarity Positioning Image 



The authors acknowledge grant funding from the Australian Research Council (LP0882549) and funding support from the Australian Red Cross Blood Service as industry partner. The authors thank Ann Wallin for research assistance, Tom Magor, Teegan Green and Daniela Bruce for assistance with the data collection and the three anonymous reviewers for their helpful suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Academy of Marketing Science 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UQ Business School, Faculty of Business, Economics and LawUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Edwin E. & June Woldt Cone Professor of Marketing, Department of Marketing, Lundquist College of BusinessUniversity of OregonEugeneUSA

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