Headwinds in sports sponsoring

Pytrik Schafraad*, Joost W.M. Verhoeven

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)



The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effects of a crisis situation in a sports team on the credibility of their sponsor and how the sponsor’s use of various crises response strategies may repair the damage done to their credibility. Design/methodology/approach: A scenario experiment was conducted with a 2 (pre-/post-crisis) × 4 (sponsor response strategy: denial/distancing/rebuild/no response) mixed factor design. Respondents (n=191) were recruited from a research panel. Findings: The results confirmed the existence of a spill-over effect: the sponsor’s credibility dropped as a result of the crisis. More interestingly, the effects of the crisis on sponsor credibility were moderated by the response strategy of the sponsor: the harm that the crisis did to the sponsor credibility was aggravated by a denial strategy, but somewhat weakened by a diminishing strategy. A rebuild response unexpectedly improved the credibility of the sponsor. Practical implications: While partnerships in sports can be risky, because crises can be contagious, such partners can also help one another to protect their credibility. Therefore, this study advocates an integral approach of crisis communication. Sponsors may improve their credibility when they frame their contribution to the solution to the problems as an authentic effort to do good. Originality/value: Starting from an issue arena perspective, this contribution shows how crises in sports teams also affect sponsors and how sponsors can contribute to the restoration of the damaged credibility with suitable responses to the crisis situation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)538-552
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 12 Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Crisis communication
  • Crisis response strategies
  • Scandal
  • Situational Crisis Communication Theory
  • Sponsor communication
  • Sponsorship


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