Corporate Sponsorship in College Football: An fMRI Study Measuring the Effectiveness of Corporate Branding Across Rival Teams

David S. Martin
Kyle M. Townsend
Yun Wang
and Gopikrishna Deshpande

This research examines a phenomenon the authors have entitled “directional-contamination,” which is a consumer’s response to advertising branded with a rival team after advertising branded with the home team has been shown. Utilizing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the authors exposed two groups of respondents, seven who identify as fans of a specific football team and eight who are not fans to marketing and promotional material that corporate sponsors currently use in their branding efforts. The authors compared the neural responses of the participants (n=15) to three different categories of advertisements: not affiliated with sports, affiliated with a sports team of which the participant is a fan, and affiliated with rival teams. The results indicated that fans were likely to experience a significantly reduced neural response to sponsors that support both their preferred sporting club and a rival sporting club.