NFL Sponsorships Pay Off for Advertisers

March 5, 2012

Study Presented at MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference on Fan Passion and League Sponsorship

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WACO, Texas (March 5, 2012) - Company sponsorship of the National Football League (NFL) is effective in engaging fans and transforming attitudes critical to making purchasing decisions, according to a research paper presented at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, March 2-3 in Boston.

"Companies with official sponsorship of the NFL receive a significant lift among NFL fans compared to non-fans," said Kirk Wakefield, Ph.D.,the Edwin W. Streetman Professor of Retail Marketing at Baylor University' Hankamer School of Business and co-author of the study.

The study analyzed the effects of time (12 quarters), sponsorship (5 official vs. 15 nonsponsors) and fan affinity (30.6 percent fan vs. 69.4 percent non-fan) on brand knowledge, esteem, relevance and differentiation.

"Our findings emphasize the importance of continuing longer- term contracts to build the effects and benefits of the sponsorship linkage," said Anne Rivers, M.B.A., study co-author and senior vice president, Brand Asset Consulting, in New York City.

The study period, 2008-2010, is important because brand values deteriorated to historical lows following the market collapse in September 2008, corresponding with the kickoff of the NFL season. Corporate sponsors in the banking and credit card industries were particularly challenged as to the value of sponsorship investments while also receiving government bailout money.

Drawing from a national brand assessment panel of 16,000 consumers who are representative of the national population, data were collected over the course of three years (quarterly, 2008-2010) on five official sponsors of the National Football League, along with 15 of their chief competitors (three in each category). Each of the official sponsors was at least in the fourth year of their sponsorships at the beginning of the study and all remain as official sponsors.

Market categories included banking, beer, credit cards, pizza and telecommunications. Other findings were:

� Passionate fans--those who watch or attend and prefer the NFL as an entertainment alternative--have more positive attitudes toward the official sponsors of the NFL than do less passionate fans.

� Over time, the official sponsors of the NFL improve their brand positioning vis-à-vis competitors.

� If the consumer is coming to "know" a brand more through its NFL relationship, they are picking up many of the NFL's positive brand attributes. This works both ways (e.g., when leagues are in trouble).

� Esteem is the key pillar to identify a fan of a team or a league. Esteem rubs off on the sponsoring brand, thereby helping reduce churn through increased loyalty. Consumers are often willing to forgive transgressions or setbacks of an esteemed brand compared to one that is less esteemed.

Dr. Wakefield's research in retailing covering more than two decades focuses primarily upon sports psychology, team sports marketing, entertainment marketing, and fan and consumer response to pricing and promotional tools. He has conducted fan research in almost every venue in sports including the NBA, NFL, MLB, MLS, NHL, and NASCAR. His textbook is available online at He developed Baylor's Sports Sponsorship & Sales program and its advisory board of 35 major league teams, and the Music & Entertainment Marketing program with its own student-run entertainment company and record label ( Dr. Wakefield also serves as editor of The Migala Report (, the industry-leading publication featuring best practices in sports sales and marketing published by the S3 program. His research has been published articles in the Journal of Marketing, Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Retailing, Journal of Academy of Marketing Science, Journal of Advertising, and the Journal of Advertising Research, among others. He is on the Editorial Review Board of the Journal of Sport Management.

Rivers's client relationships have included Allstate, Levi Strauss, Related Companies, NFL, American Red Cross and Aetna. She has been quoted in many publications including the Financial Times, Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Le Monde, Risk Magazine, and USA Today and is a frequently invited speaker, recently presenting trends and brand valuation work for the Marketing Science Institute and the American Marketing Association. Her prior experience over the last 20 years includes leading the strategy, business development and corporate finance efforts at Broder Bros., Co.,, inc. and She was also a vice president in investment banking at Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc. in the Global Industries Group focusing on retail and consumer companies, completing valuations and marketing materials for mergers, acquisitions, and capital markets transactions. She held several marketing and finance positions at Fidelity Investments.

About Baylor University

Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, classified as such with "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions.

About Hankamer School of Business

Baylor University's Hankamer School of Business provides a rigorous academic experience, consisting of classroom and hands-on learning, guided by Christian commitment and a global perspective. Recognized nationally for several programs, including Entrepreneurship and Accounting, the school offers 24 undergraduate and 13 graduate areas of study. Visit and follow on Twitter at About Brand Asset Consulting

A unit of the WPP group (NASDAQ = WPPGY), BrandAsset® Consulting (BAC) is a global strategic consultancy with expertise in corporate, brand and marketing strategy, customer insights, market research and tracking. In developing recommendations for clients to increase the power of their Brands, BAC aligns brand strategy with business objectives, and utilizes a variety of quantitative and qualitative approaches to engage with clients and create actionable recommendations.

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