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This study aims to examine the influence of a sports-related accident and its severity on sponsorship effects, including brand recognition, attitude toward the sponsoring brand and purchase intention.Design/methodology/approachThe fear appeal theory and sensation-seeking are applied as a theoretical framework. The research is carried out via an experiment using auto racing video footage and print material that manipulates the severity of accidents at three levels – no accident, an accident with a minor injury and an accident resulting in a fatality.FindingsThe analyses demonstrate that the severity of the accident elicits varying sponsorship effects. Sponsorship effects are maximized in a minor injury condition, while smaller sponsorship effects are garnered in the absence of an accident or during fatal injury conditions, as expected via the fear appeal theory. These results suggest that sports fans are excited by auto racing crashes, but are averse to witnessing a fatal accident.Research limitations/implicationsThe participants of the experiment were all students. Consequently, the participants did not represent all sports fans. Only auto racing was examined as experiment stimuli. Different demographic characteristics (e.g. age, race, nationality) and sports could differently influence the relationships among the research variables.Practical implicationsPotential sponsors do not need to take a negative view of the dangers of sports accidents. Rather, it is recommended that such companies actively plan their sponsorship activities with the appropriate strategy.Originality/valueThe relationship between the severity of a sports-related accident and sponsorship effects has received little attention regarding its potential impact on brand recognition, attitude toward the sponsoring brand and purchase intention. The current study is the first known empirical research using the fear appeal theory in sports sponsorship. It investigates the severity of a sports-related accident and determines how that severity influences sponsorship effects in auto racing. This study provides a better understanding of the effects of an accident and its severity on sponsorship effects.
International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 1, 2020
Keywords: Sponsorship; Fear appeal; Accident; crash; Sensation seeking; Auto racing; Formula one
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