Why would Cheerios sponsor a NASCAR race?

New study shows how marketers can use sponsorship of seemingly unrelated events

Why would brands like Sue Bee honey and Cheerios cereal sponsor a NASCAR race? While most people can quickly see the relationship between a sponsor that makes tires or motor oil, not all corporate sponsors "fit" NASCAR in such an obvious way. In the first study to research the benefits of event sponsorship for brands that don't seem to fit with a particular event forthcoming in the Journal of Consumer Research researchers from the University of Queensland (Australia) reveal a relatively easy way for marketers to overcome a tenuous connection and improve people's memories of an event sponsor.

"It is becoming increasingly important for a brand to establish a clear link with the event it is sponsoring, not only to reduce consumer confusion, but also to send out a clear signal of what the brand represents," explain Bettina Cornwell and her coauthors.

The researchers found that simply articulating the connection between sponsor and event increased recall for incongruent sponsor-event pairings, a finding that should be of increased interest as more and more brands undertake sponsorship as part of their marketing strategies. Interestingly, the researchers also found that the presence of competitor brands significantly decreased recall of a sponsor.

"The results of our research suggest that marketing managers for any organization (profit or non-profit) could benefit by putting effort into clearly explaining or "articulating" the relationship that exists between the brand and the event," write the authors. "Moreover, they should use every opportunity to build this understanding in the mind of their audience."


Bettina Cornwell, Michael S. Humphreys, Angela M. Maguire, Clinton S. Weeks, Cassandra Tellegen, "Sponsorship-Linked Marketing: The Role of Articulation in Memory." Journal of Consumer Research: Dec. 2006.

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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