Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Health and Sport Sciences

Degree Program

Educational Leadership and Organizational Development, PhD

Committee Chair

Frederick, Evan

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Greenwell, T. Chris

Committee Member

Greenwell, T. Chris

Committee Member

Shuck, Brad

Committee Member

Immekus, Jason

Author's Keywords

Sport sponsorship; consumer behavior; activations; social media; consumer engagement


The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of sponsorship engagement (enacted via sponsorship activations) on consumers’ responses to sponsors’ activational communications. Specifically, this study aimed at examining if interaction and engagement with their team’s sponsors’ activational communication on-site, as well as on social media, influenced loyalty towards the sponsors. The study utilized service-dominant (S-D) logic as the theoretical framework. The S-D logic perspective recognizes that consumer behavior is centered on the interactive experiences between a consumer and an object, in this case the sponsor, and that a level of consumer interest and/or personal relevance with respect to the sponsor is required prior to the emergence of specific engagement levels, the outcome of which is brand loyalty (Brodie et al., 2013). Additionally, the study also recognizes the multidimensional nature of consumer engagement, and that the engagement consumer has with a sponsor differs across contexts. Based on this perspective, six hypotheses were tested. The first hypothesis formulated was that sport team involvement will have a positive relationship with sponsorship engagement. Second, brand interactivity will be positively associated with sponsorship engagement. Third, sponsorship engagement will be positively related to brand loyalty. Fourth, sponsorship engagement acts as a mediator in the relationship between sport team involvement and brand loyalty. Fifth, sponsorship engagement acts as a mediator in the relationship between brand interactivity and brand loyalty. Sixth, gender will act as a moderator in these relationships with sponsorship engagement as the mediator. To address the purpose of the study, two separate research contexts were used. The first research context of the study was social media (study-1). In this study, a questionnaire was distributed to U.S.-based fans of a women’s professional soccer team via Facebook groups organized around fan support and interactions for the women’s professional soccer team. The second research context was on-site (study-2), and U.S.-based fans of a professional football team, who visited the sponsor activation zone and interacted with the representatives, were intercepted and asked to fill out a questionnaire. Both questionnaires assessed fans’ levels of involvement with their team, perceived interactivity of the sponsorship activation, level of engagement with the sponsorship activation, and level of loyalty towards the sponsor. Data were collected from a total of 422 respondents - 241 survey respondents recruited via Facebook groups for the social media study, and 181 survey respondents intercepted at the site of activation. Data were analyzed using path analysis. The results from both contexts supported the multi-dimensional structure of consumer brand engagement. Further, all the hypotheses were supported as involvement with the sport team and brand interactivity were found to be significant drivers of sponsorship engagement, which was also found to exert a significant impact on brand loyalty. The mediating effect of sponsorship engagement was also confirmed while gender acted as a moderating variable in the relationship between brand interactivity and brand loyalty via sponsorship engagement. Overall, the conceptual model performed better in an on-site context (sport team involvement, brand interactivity, and sponsorship engagement explained 39% of the variance in brand loyalty) compared to the social media context (sport team involvement, brand interactivity, and sponsorship engagement explained 35% of the variance in brand loyalty). The findings offer several theoretical and practical implications. From a theoretical standpoint, this research finds support for the use of S-D logic as a theoretical lens to investigate the multi-dimensional nature of CBE in a sport sponsorship setting. In addition, the findings also broaden the theoretical application of S-D logic to sponsorship effectiveness/evaluation models by establishing the importance of fan-sponsor interactions and fan involvement with the sport team. The results also provides researchers with a sponsorship engagement model which they can utilize in a variety of new research contexts covering sponsorship activations. Practitioners are informed by this research on the importance of engaging the fans through activations, which offers sponsors an avenue to break through the sponsorship clutter and achieve the key marketing objective of building loyalty with the fans.