Taking the Games inside corporate culture

01 August, 2012

Sports sponsorship doesn't just amplify brand meaning to sell more sneakers or soft drinks – it can also deliver a significant boost to a sponsor's internal corporate culture and productivity, according to new research from RMIT University.

In the run-up to the London Games, Professor Francis Farrelly and colleagues interviewed senior executives from corporations in the USA, China, Australia, Switzerland, France, and the UK to examine how sports sponsorship has been used to drive the internal development of the companies.

They have called the process Sponsorship Linked Internal Marketing (SLIM).

Professor Farrelly, from RMIT's School of Economics, Finance and Marketing, worked with Stephen Greyser, the Richard P Chapman Professor of Business Administration (Marketing/Communications) Emeritus at the Harvard Business School, and Matt Rogan, who heads the Two Circles sports consultancy in London.

Professor Farrelly said: "We discovered that respondents leveraged the association with the identity of the sponsored sport (and sport more generally) to conceive far-reaching internal performance strategy.

"They incorporated corporate identity, corporate culture, the linking of internal and external sponsorship activation, and employee performance initiatives, as part of a broader performance strategy."

The researchers came across some remarkable results, like the company that reported that 8 per cent more customer complaints were resolved first time in the three months after running a sponsorship-related learning and coaching program.

Professor Farrelly said: "While sports sponsorship is generally seen as an external marketing opportunity, it can also offer major benefits in terms of internal culture and performance development, if handled correctly.

"It can provide a rich opportunity to build employee identification with corporate identity; to establish a fit between how the identity of the firm is positioned internally and externally; and to inspire employee engagement to drive business performance. Moreover, it helps to foster a collaborative culture that may have long-term benefits."

The research will be published later this year by the Journal of Sport Management.

Source: RMIT University