Heartful partnership or just business? : Investigating corporations' reasoning and expected outcomes of sponsoring Swedish elite football teams.

University essay from Jönköping University/IHH, Organisation, Ledarskap, Strategi och Entreprenörskap; Jönköping University/IHH, Företagsekonomi; Jönköping University/IHH, Centre for Innovation Systems, Entrepreneurship and Growth; Jönköping University/IHH, ESOL (Entrepreneurs

Abstract: Abstract Background: Marketing in the current era is more complex than before, companies need to be creative and utilize more marketing mediums in order to stand out and reach a greater audience. Many companies thus implement sponsoring activities connected to sports to reach a greater and more specific audience. Football is the world’s most popular sport, it attracts billions of people and by sponsoring a football team, companies can access the attention of these people. Problem: Despite sponsorships popularity, there are difficulties in measuring the results and the long-term business purpose. Yet companies spend millions of dollars each year on sponsorships of elite football teams, even though the return on investment appears to be seemingly low. Purpose: This research aims to gain further understanding of the reasons why and what makes companies decide to sponsor Swedish elite football teams. On a further note, companies’ expectations and what they value in a sponsorship will be presented. The research will also examine possible business benefits correlated to the sponsorship. Lastly, the companies’ eventual measurements of the sponsorships are examined. Method: The research has been conducted through a qualitative approach of nine semi-structured in-depth interviews.  The interviewees hold managerial positions in corporations who sponsor Swedish elite football teams. The data was analysed and further compared to existing literature within the field. Results: The results from this research indicates that the expectations and what companies’ value in a sponsorship often coincide. On a further note, these companies prioritize gaining access to the brand and network of the sponsored team to use within marketing as well as building relationships. Companies also see sponsorships as part of their CSR-projects to contribute to society. All the companies considered either had a local connection or heartful relation to the sponsored club. Regarding measuring the sponsorships, few companies have any sort of measurement in place but rather evaluates the sponsorship on more than just numbers.

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