Thilo Kunkel, Ph.D.

Athlete brands and sponsorship

Athlete brands and sponsorship In its simplest form, a brand can be considered a name, symbol, design, trademark or a combination of all of the above that serves the purpose of distinguishing one product or service from another. Ultimately brand awareness and brand image influence brand success. The brand awareness component is related to the ability of consumers to identify the brand from their memory under different conditions. Brand image refers to the perceptions about a brand as reflected by the brand associations held in consumer memory. Brand associations represent any attribute or benefit linked to a brand as perceived by a consumer. These associative links refer to tangible (Cristiano Ronaldo scores many goals) and intangible (Cristiano Ronaldo is a role model for kids) descriptors the consumer links to the brand. Brand associations provide indicators to consumer knowledge of the brand (What I know about Cristiano Ronaldo) and the perceived favorability associated with a brand (I like Cristiano Ronaldo), and therefore influence brand selection and consumption (I purchase Cristiano Ronaldo’s CR7 branded clothes). Below is an overview of my projects related to athlete brands: My research has investigated the brand development of professional athletes. In this research project, I worked with a professional athlete on aligning his brand image with philanthropy and promoting charitable activity via social media. Analysis of qualitative and quantitative data indicate an increase of fans’ perception of the athlete as a charitable person and an increase of fan involvement with the athlete. As a result, the athlete received extensive media coverage, increased his social media following, raised over $40,000 to a charity, and signed a sponsorship deal with a company that wanted to align itself with charitable causes. Reference: Academic article currently in development My research has investigated the spill-over effects of athlete sponsorship. In this research project, I examined the influence of athlete sponsorship on consumers’ awareness and attitudes toward the sponsoring brand. Analysis of qualitative and quantitative data indicate an increase of brand awareness of the sponsor amongst the fan-base of the sponsored athlete. Additionally, consumers’ perceptions of the sponsor as a charitable organization and their attitude toward the sponsoring organization increased over a six-month period of sponsoring a charitable athlete. Reference: Academic article currently in development

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