Leveraging sponsorships on the Internet: Activation, congruence, and articulation



This paper considers how the Internet can be used to leverage commercial sponsorships to enhance audience attitudes toward the sponsor. Definitions are offered that distinguish the terms leverage and activation with respect to sponsorship-linked marketing; leveraging encompasses all marketing communications collateral to the sponsorship investment, whereas activation relates to those communications that encourage interaction with the sponsor. Although activation in many instances may be limited to the immediate event-based audience, leveraging sponsorships via sponsors' Web sites enables activation at the mass-media audience level. Results of a Web site navigation experiment demonstrate that activational sponsor Web sites promote more favorable attitudes than do nonactivational Web sites. It is also shown that sponsorsponsee congruence effects generalize to the online environment, and that the effects of sponsorship articulation on audience attitudes are moderated by the commerciality of the explanation for the sponsor-sponsee relationship. Importantly, the study reveals that attitudinal effects associated with variations in leveraging, congruence, and orientation of articulation may be sustained across time. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.