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Credit Sponsorship of Sports Events in the US Research Paper

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Updated: Jan 15th, 2022

Over the recent years, corporate sponsorship has gained considerable attention among corporations. Empirical studies indicate that corporations have been quick to embrace sponsorships as a vital tool of promotion strategy (Keller, p. 82). Most importantly, sport sponsorship has received much attention among corporations as most of them spend millions to finance sporting activities (Meenaghan, p. 98). Apparently, major sporting events attract large number of spectators, while others watch these events on televisions. Moreover depending on the magnitude, sporting events receive heightened media coverage; thus, making sporting events a vital promotion marketing strategy (Keller, p. 84).

Against this background, major credit companies in the US (Visa, MasterCard and American express) have not been left behind in this euphoria. These companies adopt various strategies to secure sponsorship slots in major sporting events globally. Among the three companies, Visa Card is the market leader in this category whereby it was estimated to have spent $140 million in sport sponsorship in 2007 (sponsorship.com). Visa has defended official sponsor position in Olympic Games for several years. Visa has guarded this position selfishly and it has managed to secure exclusive sponsorship rights in Vancouver 2010 and anticipated London 2012 Olympics (sponsorship.com). Moreover, Visa tops the list of major FIFA world cup events sponsors (Visa.com). Secondly, MasterCard was estimated to have spent $90 million in sport events sponsorship in 2007 (sponsorship.com). MasterCard has a long standing relationship with UEFA Champions League sporting event as the official sponsor. Moreover, the company also sponsors other minor football events such as Copa America and South American Qualifiers (MasterCard.com). Other sporting sponsorship events by MasterCard include Golf PGA tour, Major league baseball events and minor rugby events (MasterCard.com). Concurrently, American Express spent $ 40 million in sporting events during the same year (sponsorship.com). American Express concentrates on major basketball events such as NBA, WNBA and most importantly the USA Basketball leagues (American Express.com).

As epitomized above, sporting sponsorship plays an integral role in marketing. Apparently, the increased adoption has been due the myriad promotional benefits associated with sport sponsorship (Keller, p. 92). Against this backdrop, most of these corporations are motivated by similar marketing objectives. To begin with, by sponsoring major and minor sporting events, credit companies seek to increase consumer awareness of their brands. Sporting events attract larger number of people and corporations bet on creating new customers from this group of people (Keller, p. 94). Moreover, even individuals who follow the sporting proceedings at the comfort of their homes are also treated as potential customers. On the same note, Meenaghan (p. 96) underscores that corporations adopt sport sponsorship as a vital element of marketing mix. Noticeably, marketers adopt sport sponsorship activities to position their brand over and above their competitors.

Secondly, the credit card corporations seek to build a positive image in the mind of existing and potential consumers (Keller, p. 92). As more and more people become attached to particular sports, corporations are hoping to tap into this fanaticism to build their brand image. The idea reasoning behind brand image concept is that consumers are likely to be loyal to brand that support their sporting interests (Keller, p. 92). This same reason has increased competition among credit card companies as each seek a bigger share in sporting events in the hope of building brand image and equity. According to Meenaghan (p. 96), strategic sport sponsorship yields positive brand reputation than any other marketing mix strategy.

Thirdly, by sponsoring sporting events credit card companies hope to increase card usage among existing and potential consumers (Meenaghan (p. 96). The marketing objective behind such a strategy is to increase sales during the events and afterwards. The uptake of credit cards has been sluggish and credit card marketers are willing to go at any length to achieve their target sales (Keller, p. 92). For instance, it is not uncommon to find that tickets for particular events are only issued through the credit card company with exclusive sponsorship rights. Meenaghan (p. 101) accentuates that if properly executed, sport sponsorship can earn corporations a sustainable competitive edge since such encounters solidify relationships between the company and target consumer. As a result, the companies involved can count on this positive relationship to increase sales and usage.

Consequently, Credit Card Corporations adopt various strategies to activate their sponsorship programs. Most of these programs are geared towards encouraging credit card usage instead of cash transactions. Depending on whether a company has exclusive sponsorship rights, marketers can decide that all ticket sales will be paid via credit card instead of cash. For instance, Visa has made it clear that sport fans will only access tickets to the London 2012 Olympic Games through the use of credit cards (Visa.com). The decision seeks to encourage sport fans to utilize credit or debit card, but since Visa has exclusive sponsorship rights, fans are restricted to use credit/debit from this company. This strategy is very common among credit card companies whereas MasterCard also adopts a similar restriction during the PGA TOUR/Champions Tour golf tournaments, major baseball leagues and selected rugby leagues (MasterCard.com). Similarly, American Express enforces restrictions during sporting events that the company has exclusive rights (American Express.com). Moreover, companies may decide to sponsor a team instead of funding the entire event.

In a nutshell, it is evident that corporations are slowly adopting sport sponsorship as part of their marketing mix strategies. On the same note, the three major credit card companies (Visa, MasterCard and American express) in US had not been left behind in this euphoria. These companies have been spending considerable amount of their revenues towards sports sponsorships in order to increase brand awareness, create brand loyalty/equity and encourage credit card usage among consumers.

Works Cited

  1. American Express. Entertainment access: Thousands of events offered up daily, 2011.
  2. Crosdale, Caroline. Smart, Efficient, Sponsorship Is in, 2009.
  3. Keller, Kevin. Strategic Brand Management: Building, Measuring, and Managing Brand Equity (2nd ed.). Prentice Hall: New Jersey, 2003. Print.
  4. Mastercard Worldiwde. Current sponsorships, 2011.
  5. Meenaghan, Tony. (2001). “Understanding Sponsorship Effects”. Psychology & Marketing, 18.2, 2001, 95-122.
  6. Visa. Supporting excellence in sport. Visa, 2011.
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IvyPanda. "Credit Sponsorship of Sports Events in the US." January 15, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/credit-sponsorship-of-sports-events-in-the-us/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Credit Sponsorship of Sports Events in the US." January 15, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/credit-sponsorship-of-sports-events-in-the-us/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'Credit Sponsorship of Sports Events in the US'. 15 January.

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