Signage vs. No Signage: An Analysis of Sponsorship Recognition in Women’s College Basketball, pp. 188-198

Heather Maxwell
Nancy Lough

The reliance on signage to generate spectator recognition of sponsors has become so commonplace that the concept of sponsorship is nearly synonymous with the use of signage in sport venues. A multitude of studies have measured sponsorship recognition and/or recall among sport spectators as the means to justify the practice (Bennett, Henson, & Zhang, 2002; Cuneen & Hannan, 1993; Nicholls, Roslow, & Dublish, 1999; Pitts & Slattery, 2004; Pitts, 1998; Stotlar, 1993; Stotlar & Johnson, 1989). Previous literature suggests more highly involved spectators, such as college sport fans, are typically more likely to recognize and support sport sponsors (Dodd, 1997; Pitts, 1998, 2003; Pope & Voges, 2000; Quester, 1997; Shannon & Turley, 1997; Turco, 1995). However, no studies to date have examined correct sponsorship recognition when signage was not utilized. For some, the absence of signage suggests an absence of sponsorship. Yet, in a handful of college basketball arenas, signage is not allowed. As concern grows regarding the commercialization of college sport (Knight Commission, 2009) the possibility of eliminating signage has emerged as a salient construct worthy of further examination. Similarly, few studies have focused specifically on the effectiveness of sponsorship for women’s sport (Lough, 1996; Lough & Irwin, 2001). As such, the primary purpose of this study was to examine how the presence of sponsor signage in collegiate basketball arenas influences correct sponsorship recognition by women’s basketball spectators. A secondary purpose for the study was to identify additional variables significantly contributing to correct sponsor recognition by women’s basketball spectators.