1.1 Background of Study
In recent times, many companies have come to realize the importance of building long lasting relationships with their customers and at the same time seeking new means of beating competitors in the market place. The growing interest in professional sports league around the world has contributed to the increased focus by firms on using sports as a means of reaching target audiences.
Today, many companies are fully aware that they need their customers to stay in business and many of them know the high significance which event sponsorship plays in making them compete favourably amongst their competitors. According to Shank (2009:334), companies engage themselves in sponsorship deals at times due to some level of threat from their competitors. It has been argued by many sponsors that this is the main reason for sponsorship activity. In other words, if they are not interested and fail to invest in sponsorship, then some of their competitors will and this will eventually lead to a market loss for them in major events like the olympics, world cup, football leagues, etc.
De Pelsmacker, P., Geuens, M. and Van den Bergh, J. (2001:3) have explained why sponsorship is gaining importance. According to the authors, traditional mass media advertising is becoming increasingly expensive, increasingly irritating, and as a result of communication clutter, less effective. Sponsorship is seen as a means to escape this disorder, to isolate brand from the competition and to get the message across at a lower cost. Sponsored events are also increasingly broadcast, which makes investment in sponsorship more valuable.
Today, sport has become an avenue through which people spend their free time and it is now an industry of its own. According to Westerbeek and Smith (2003:18), sport is ultimately a way for all people to satisfy a variety of deep human needs, it provides an attracting means for international corporations to reach wide audiences. In addition to its commercial potential, sport is a tempting target for sponsorship because it is inextricably part of people’s lives and the level of emotion is high when it comes to people’s relationship with sport.
Most businesses have discovered the potential for achieving their business objectives through sport sponsorship. Such Objectives include increasing awareness; image enhancement; increasing sales; providing client hospitality and motivating employees are common reasons cited by businesses in justifying why they engage in sport sponsorship (Stotlar, 2001:14).
Many a time, companies usually negotiate a sponsoring or licensing agreement that would make the company an exclusive sponsor to an event. The advantage related to this type of sponsorship is a high level of exposure without having to worry about certain competitors and the cluttering which is quite synonymous with the traditional mode of advertising (Mullin et al. 2007:322).
Amis, Slack & Berrett, (1999:118) observed that gaining a competitive advantage is becoming more of a challenge within a cluttered telecommunication market in which there are increased incidences of ambush marketing. This has led telecommunication companies to explore new strategies to activate (leverage) their investments and maximize sponsorship return.
In Nigeria, most telecommunication companies and other organizations in varying business ventures have come to realize the potentials of sponsorship in product or service awareness creation, and one of such companies is Globacom.
Globacom is the title sponsor of the Glo Nigeria Professional Football League which has witnessed a large turnout of spectators unlike in the recent past. The Glo Nigeria Professional League is broadcast not only in Nigeria, but internationally using the media as their major channel of communication. However, the staging of a successful football league like the Glo Nigeria Professional Football League is highly dependent upon the ability of management to cover costs associated with running the event, such as marketing, infrastructure, staff and insurance. Revenue to cover such costs is often sourced from areas such as participation fees, merchandising and sponsorship.
Sponsorship has frequently proven to be the source of revenue that provides the financial backbone for the Nigeria Professional Football League. The sponsorship covers provision of branded items such as football jerseys, footballs, the stadia, live coverage of league matches, the league cup, indemnity for match officials and payment to clubs.
Given the increasing importance placed on sponsorship in recent times in product marketing and services, this study, therefore seeks to examine the event sponsorship of Glo Nigeria Professional Football League.
1.2 Statement of Problem
Football leagues all over the world have become big business and that of Nigeria should not be an exception. For the advanced football leagues, sponsorship is a major revenue earner. With funds and equipment availed football leagues and constituting teams by events sponsors, unprecedented and sustained growth has been witnessed in football around the world.
Event sponsorship is a promotional tool which directly brings benefits to society. Strict regulations guiding advertising of products have led many companies to find alternative ways of generating a positive association with their brands in the minds of their customers.
In developed climes, event sponsorship and its management have grown steadily over the years but the concept is still at its early stages in Nigeria. Within Nigeria, events sponsorship has turned out to be poor as programmes or events even when beneficial to society do not enjoy regular and broad sponsorship. This could be as a result of the government finding it difficult to move with present realities by letting the private sector run the economy in most cases and the organized private sector dragging its foot by waiting for the business environment to be conducive.
This has hampered the growth of veritable ventures such as our football league which has been in doldrums for many years due to inadequate funding in terms of sponsorship and management. Hence, this study which seeks to evaluate the event sponsorship and management of the Glo sponsored Nigeria Professional Football League.
1.3 Objectives of Study
Specifically, the areas of focus of this research work are as follows:
- To determine the level of awareness of Globacom’s sponsorship of Nigeria Professional Football League.
- To ascertain the level at which event sponsorship helps in marketing Glo products and services.
- To ascertain the extent Globacom’s sponsorship of the Nigeria Professional League has increased the interest of football fans in the local league.
- To find out the extent to which Glo Nigeria Professional Football League serves as a promotional strategy in positioning Glo products and services over its competitors.
- To determine the extent to which events sponsorship creates increased brand awareness.
1.4 Research Questions
The following research questions have been raised:
- What is the level of awareness of Globacom’s sponsorship of Nigeria Professional Football League?
- To what level has event sponsorship helped in marketing Globacom’s products and services?
- To what extent has Globacom’s sponsorship of the Nigeria Professional Football League increased the interest of football fans in the local league?
- To what extent does Glo Nigeria Professional Football League serve as a promotional strategy in positioning Globacom’s products and services over its competitors?
- To what extent can investment in events sponsorship create increased brand awareness?
1.5 Significance of Study
This study will contribute in ascertaining the effectiveness of event sponsorship in marketing products and services.
This work is expected to be invaluable to companies, organizations, and governments that still depend largely on advertising alone at all levels in the country, to start thinking of sponsoring events because of the huge financial benefits that can be derived and are yet to be explored.
It will equally help companies, football associations in Nigeria, spectators and the government to know the extent event sponsorship can influence people towards patronizing products and services.
In the area of academics, this study will help to provide literature on sponsorship and management of events. With the literature provided, this study will serve as a reference material for people researching in this area or other related issues. It could also spur further interest in scholars to produce more works and conduct further research on the topic.
1.6 Scope of Study
The scope of this study is primarily focused at evaluating the sponsorship of the Nigeria Professional Football League.
The study is targeted at viewers of Glo Nigeria Professional Football League, Globacom’s customers, business people, football enthusiasts and other members of society within South East Nigeria.
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms
For the sake of clarity, certain terms need to be defined according to the context of usage.
It is an organized occasion such as a sports competition or social function. It is an occurrence that happens in a certain place and times especially something important or interesting.
It is the provision of resources such as money, people, equipment, etc, by an organization directly for an event or activity, in exchange for a direct association with the event or activity.
Sponsorship entails providing financial support for an activity or event. It includes but not limited to providing support and encouragement through finance by a sponsor for an event which the sponsor has decided to provide sponsorship for.
This is an association of sports clubs or teams that compete with each other.
Brand awareness arises from the visibility of a brand which includes the image or product. This is made possible through publicity of such brands through sponsorship of events which is a form of advertising and other forms of advertising.
Brand awareness entails public knowledge of goods and services, products and brands.