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ABSTRACT

Research on the effects of event sponsorship has focused mainly on the consequences for brand equity of the association between a sponsor and a sponsored event. However, the effects of management's decision to exit from a sponsorship have received little empirical consideration. The studies reported here were carried out to fill this gap by systematically examining (a) the impact of a sponsor's corporate reputation on consumer responses to the strategic exit from a controversial sponsorship, and (b) the role that perceived trust in the decision plays in determining the outcomes. The results of two studies emphasize that strategic exiting from a controversial sponsorship (i.e., possible doping scandals at the event) can have positive consequences for the sponsor's image when the decision is trusted, but detrimental consequences when the exiting is attributed to overly self-serving reasons. Trust in sponsorship withdrawal is elicited when the sponsor is perceived as having a good character with respect to meeting societal obligations, or when communication efforts are made salient that create trust in the withdrawal decision by a firm with a bad character.