Action Sports Sponsorship Recognition

Gregg Bennett
James Zhang
Robin Henson

Action sports, an emerging genre of individualistic sports, has increased immensely in popularity over the past few years (Petrecca, 2000; Bennett & Henson, 2001). Sponsorship of action sports events has likewise increased rapidly over the last few years, and these sponsorships are prevalent on most televised event broadcasts. Research suggests that there is an expansive and increasing action sports industry (Bennett & Henson, 2001). Several major corporate sponsors have uncovered the benefits of advertising on ESPN, NBC, and others. Advertising research is replete with examples of utilizing intermediate measures to assess sponsorship effectiveness (Ambler & Burne, 1999; Cuneen & Hannan, 1993; Gibson, 1983; Meir, Arthur, Tobin, & Massingham, 1997; Percy & Rossiter, 1997; Pitts, 1998; Stotlar & Johnson, 1989; Turco, 1994;). The literature base on intermediate measures in sport marketing is also well established. Cuneen and Hannan (1993), Sandler and Shani (1993), Stotlar (1993), and Pitts (1998) have provided sport marketing and management practitioners with useful data on intermediate measures utilized by the LPGA, Olympic Games, and Gay Games, respectively. Despite the development of literature on sponsorship effectiveness within the sport industry, there is a relative paucity of original research on the action sports phenomenon. Indeed, a literature review revealed no significant research involving sponsorship and action sports. Thus, an investigation of the effectiveness of action sports sponsorships seems especially warranted and timely. An original, 19- item questionnaire was constructed to measure action sports sponsor and athlete recognition by members of the Generation Y market. Mountain Dew has managed to connect with those surveyed in this particular study through its sponsorship of action sports, while ESPN is clearly the most identifiable action sport network by Generation Y—likely due to the longer track record of the X-Games. On an individual level, Tony Hawk was the most recognizable action sports athlete. These results present sport marketers with important findings on the recognition of sponsors of action sports.