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British Petroleum Corp.’s Branding and Sponsorship Report

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Updated: Feb 16th, 2021

Introduction

As the marketing director of British Petroleum Corp., I have noticed that our relevancy to the general public has continued to wane in terms of market appeal and positive consumer attitudes towards our brand. While I have attempted to focus on an assortment of social media efforts such as through traditional media and online social media, the fact remains that the negative publicity generated by the explosion of our Deep Water Horizon platform off the Gulf of Mexico has caused a considerable public outcry resulting in a damaged brand. Studies such as those by Uggla and Filipsson (2009) have shown that a brand strategy centers on the perception of the general public regarding a brand whether in the form of quality, affordability or general popularity. This in turn creates the distinctiveness that is unique to a particular company that allows it to build upon the reputation that was created in order to generate more business opportunities for profit (Uggla & Filipsson, 2009).

Unfortunately, our brand identity as determined by the criteria set by Uggla and Filipsson (2009) is no longer connected to the values of environmental sustainability, proper corporate social responsibility and the development of long term bonds with the local community (Uggla & Filipsson, 2009). Instead, the British Petroleum Corporation as we know of it today is associated with mismanagement, lack of sufficient environmental protection practices and generally unethical business dealings. This has the potential for long term brand deterioration which could impact the brand development practices that were elaborated on in the Uggla and Filipsson (2009) study (Uggla & Filipsson, 2009). With marketing practices in traditional media and online social media showing little progress, it is important for us to find an alternate solution that enables us to connect the brand to a concept that would result in a more positive perception for the company.

One possible solution that I would like to advocate comes in the form of Fortunato (2009) who showed that corporate sponsorship agreements between companies and sports franchises helps to generate positive public opinion regarding a brand which results in better sales (Fortunato, 2009). He presented the case of Chevrolet and Major League Baseball as an example to show how effective corporate sponsorship agreements are in not only improving brand image by correlating the success and positive ethical behavior of a sports team with the brand that sponsors them (Fortunato, 2009). As a result, this enhances the reputation of the company through the process of correlation wherein people begin to associate particular sport franchises with the brands that sponsor them. This particular method of association is seen in the case of Uggla and Filipsson (2009) study which associates brand values with brand identity. In a sense, what occurs in the case of corporate sponsorships is that the values associated with the person/franchise that is being sponsored is transferred to that of the company which in effect becomes a type of brand identity for the company itself (Uggla & Filipsson, 2009). I believe that this can be utilized to great effect in the case of British Petroleum Corp. wherein we can associate our brand with a responsible, successful and popular sports athlete or even an athletic team which in turn would help us to improve our brand image through identity association.

Proposed Strategy

My proposed strategy is for the company to sponsor another brand in the form of a sports franchise that is located near the Gulf of Mexico. This can encompass a college or professional football team, baseball team, soccer team or any number of potential teams that have a history of good sportsmanlike behavior and uphold values that would help to create a positive association between the company and that particular franchise. The end goal of this endeavor is for people within the Gulf of Mexico to slowly but surely associate the company with ethical and positive practices which in the end should help its brand image.

Understanding the Use of Sponsorships

To better understand the correlation between sponsorships deals and effective advertising campaigns to repair a company’s reputation, I would like you to take note of the main goal of all marketing campaigns which is basically to entice consumers to purchase a particular product or service by virtue of the way in which the company promotes (Boerman, Reijmersdal, & Neijens, 2012). Utilizing the theory of rational behavior that assumes all companies will act rationally towards a particular goal it can be stated that the advertising campaigns of all companies will of course attempt to present the product that they are selling in the best possible light (Santomier, 2008). While there are numerous methods of doing this such as traditional print ads or modern viral marketing campaigns some companies opt to take the route of utilizing corporate funded sponsorships as a method of advertising their particular brand or product (Santomier, 2008). This often takes the form of having some popular actor, actress or athlete showcase either their support for the product or their use of it in order to entice people to buy the product themselves (Boshoff & Gerber, 2008).

How will this Work for the Company?

For me, the effectiveness of using this type of advertising approach originates from observational studies which show that consumers are likely to buy a product or patronize a specific type of service if they see someone else happily using it, studies even show that the likelihood of product patronage goes up astronomically if it is seen that a pop culture icon is utilizing a particular type of product (Horowitz, 2012). This speaks volumes of the influence of pop culture on consumer buying behavior however it is also indicative of the fact that companies are aware of what causes consumers to purchase a particular product and act accordingly in order to exploit it (Farrelly, Quester & Greyser, 2005).

Various forms of consumable media in the form of print ads, billboards, commercials, online marketing campaigns and a plethora of other types of advertising initiatives are rife with the images of various popular individuals showing just how prevalent product endorsements are in the advertising campaigns of numerous companies (Chien, Cornwell & Pappu, 2011). Of particular interest is the concept of sports marketing and how consumer patronage of particular sports brands are affected by the relationship between sponsorships and advertisements (Chien, Cornwell & Pappu, 2011).

After some investigation, I found the work of Jeffries (2010), which explained that sponsorships that utilize athletes is called sports marketing and can be defined as “the activities of consumer and industrial product and service marketers who are increasingly using sport as a promotional vehicle” (Jeffries, 2010). Based on what has been presented in this paper so far, it can be seen that the current trend for many companies at the present is to utilize sports based advertising as a means of promoting their products to various consumers. As such, this is indicative of a potential opportunity for our company to join this “bandwagon” in order to help repair our damaged brand.

Understanding Public Interest

What must be understood is that through the dynamics of public interest in pop culture that extends into the realm of sports, people become increasingly fascinated with various sports stars to such an extent that they attempt to emulate them in every way possible (Hakala, 2011). This has the result of them buying sports jerseys in the same style and color as their favorite athlete buy products which that particular athlete uses and even drink the same type of drink they see an athlete drinking (Boshoff & Gerber, 2008). All of this conforms with the inherent notion that if a particular athlete is using it then it must be good (Westerbeek & Linley, 2012). Such an observation can thus be used by British Petroleum in the form of corporate sponsored endorsement deals wherein various athletes would wear our brand on their uniforms, t-shirts etc.

Notable examples of this can be seen through athletes such as Michael Jordan and his endorsement deal with Nike which led up to the creation of the Air Jordan sneaker brand, Manny Pacquiao and his varied endorsement deals with Nike, EverLast and Gillette and lastly Tiger Words and his association with nearly hundreds of brands the most notable of which was Nike (Boshoff & Gerber, 2008). The result of these endorsements has been to bring the branding and knowledge of the product beyond what can be seen in advertisements and print ads lending it an extra sense of credibility since audiences always see their favorite athletes utilizing that particular brand (Westerbeek & Linley, 2012). For me, our company needs this level of credibility given the damage our brand image has taken within the past year.

Possible Problems with Sponsorships

Consumer patronage is an import facilitator of increased profits within a given period for companies and, as a result, they need a consistent prolonged level of consumer patronage. Athletes in effect become living, talking and walking advertising platforms for companies wherein they represent all the positive aspects of the brand resulting in a higher level of consumer patronage due to the positive connection. Various studies examining the impact of particular advertising campaigns on consumers show that by and large not all advertising campaigns have a prolonged period of impact on the mindset of consumers (Carrillat, Harris & Lafferty, 2010). Taking this into consideration it can also be assumed that not all corporate endorsement deals connected to particular athletes have the desired effect of prolonged exposure as compared to billboards and commercials (Boshoff & Gerber, 2008). In fact it can even be stated that since athletes do not always sport the brands they’re suppose to be endorsing, this results in a situation where corporate sponsored endorsement deals are in fact less effective a method of advertising as compared to traditional print ads and commercials as well as modern viral marketing campaigns (Carrillat, Harris & Lafferty, 2010).

Conclusion

While it may be true that corporate sponsorships are expensive when they are initiated, the fact remains that over time they do produce benefits in terms of a greatly boosted reputation as a company enjoys the association between it and a respect sports brand. In the case of this report, the various advantages and disadvantages of corporate sports sponsorships have been shown and I have expressed my opinion that this method brand development is currently the best option the British Petroleum Corp. has in being able to repair its reputation. With enough sponsorship agreements over time people will begin to forget about the problems caused by the oil spill by the Deep Water Horizon platform and will begin to once again associate the company with proper and ethical practices.

Reference List

Boerman, S. C., Reijmersdal, E. A., & Neijens, P. C. (2012). Sponsorship Disclosure: Effects of Duration on Persuasion Knowledge and Brand Responses. Journal Of Communication, 62(6), 1047-1064.

Boshoff, C. C., & Gerber, C. C. (2008). Sponsorship recall and recognition: The case of the 2007 Cricket World Cup. South African Journal Of Business Management, 39(2), 1-8.

Carrillat, F. A., Harris, E. G., & Lafferty, B. A. (2010). Fortuitous brand image transfer. Journal Of Advertising, 39(2), 109-123.

Chien, P., Cornwell, T., & Pappu, R. (2011). Sponsorship portfolio as a brand-image creation strategy. Journal Of Business Research, 64(2), 142-149.

Farrelly, F., Quester, P., & Greyser, S. A. (2005). Defending the Co-Branding Benefits of Sponsorship B2B Partnerships: The Case of Ambush Marketing. Journal Of Advertising Research, 45(3), 339-348.

Fortunato, J. A. (2009). Using sponsorship as a form of public relations: A case study of Chevrolet and Major League Baseball. Journal Of Sponsorship, 2(4), 330-339.

Hakala, K. (2011). Sponsorship: Leap Taking a Daring Leap. ABA Bank Marketing, 43(1), 38.

Horowitz, S. (2012). Sponsorship and branding: Practitioners’ articles How jersey sponsorship can be an effective marketing tool. Journal Of Brand Strategy, 1(2), 180-184.

Jeffries, M. (2010). No sponsorship is an island: Sponsorship evaluation and research techniques. Journal Of Sponsorship, 3(4), 358-364.

Santomier, J. (2008). New media, branding and global sports sponsorship. International Journal Of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship, 10(1), 15-28.

Uggla, H., & Filipsson, D. (2009). Business and Brand Strategy: A Framework for Integration. ICFAI Journal Of Business Strategy, 6(2), 27-42.

Westerbeek, H., & Linley, M. (2012). Sponsorship and branding: Research paper Building city brands through sport events: Theoretical and empirical perspectives. Journal Of Brand Strategy, 1(2), 193-205.

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