Event Marketing

Check out my research papers for download  (available via SSRN)

Here are abstracts from my research in the area of event marketing/sponsorship-linked marketing (available until 2010; 2010-current papers are available above)

Consumer Behavior Knowledge for Effective Sports and Event Marketing (Book)

Kahle, L.R. & Close, A.G. (Eds.). (2010). Consumer Behavior Knowledge for Effective Sports and Event Marketing, New York, NY: Routledge. ISBN: 978-0-415-87358 Publish Date: September 2010, 310 pages.

The growing complexity and importance of sports and event marketing has pushed scholars and practitioners to apply sophisticated marketing thinking and applications to these topics. This book deals with the professional development in the sense that sports marketing can be viewed as an application of consumer behavior research. Readers will learn about new opportunities in using consumer behavior knowledge effectively in the areas of a)influencing behaviors in society and sports b) building relationships with consumers through sports and events and c) providing services to consumers through sport and event sponsorships. This book, by a superb group of authors, includes comprehensive reviews, innovative conceptual pieces, empirical research and rigorous attention to data.

Link to “Consumer Behavior Knowledge for Effective Sports and Event Marketing” Book Site


Engaging the Consumer through Event Marketing: Linking Attendees with the Sponsor, Community, and Brand

Close, A.G., Finney, R.Z., Lacey, R., & Sneath, J.Z. (2006). Engaging the Consumer through Event Marketing: Linking Attendees with the Sponsor, Community, and Brand. Journal of Advertising Research. 46 (4), 420-433.

With an on-site study at a sponsored event, we construct and test competing models to examine the relationship between event attendees, sponsorship, community involvement, and the title sponsor’s brand with respect to purchase intentions. We show that an attendee’s enthusiasm and activeness in the area of the sponsored event and knowledge of the sponsor’s products positively influence the attendee’s desire that a sponsor be involved with the community. Then, we show that attendees who are more community-minded have a more positive opinion of the sponsor as a result of their event experience; a better opinion of the sponsor contributes to increased intentions to purchase the sponsor’s products. Results from this framework indicate that event marketing, in conjunction with consumers who are enthusiastic, active, and knowledgeable about the sponsor and event, serves as a valuable lever to engage the consumer.

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This Event is Me!: How Consumer-Event Congruity Leverages Sponsorship

Close, A.G., Krishen, A.S., & LaTour, M.S. (2009). This Event is Me! How Consumer-Event Congruity Leverages Sponsorship. Journal of Advertising Research. 49 (3), 271-284.

Based on a real-world field study of twenty-one sponsored promotional events (sponsored fashion shows) (n=535), we provide a self-congruity theory-based model explaining the role of mall shopper’s self-congruity on the effectiveness of experiential mall promotions. We find that self-congruity with the event is a key influencer of promotion effectiveness. Specifically we show that: a) more expertise with the sponsor impacts self-congruity with the sponsor; b) in turn, self-congruity with the promotional event enhances persuasiveness of the event; and c) this event persuasion enhances the consumer’s likelihood to shop at the sponsor’s store. Further, when entertained shoppers like the promotional events and wish for more of such promotions, they tend to think more positively about the sponsor, view the promotional event as a good way to highlight the sponsor, and desire to shop more at the retail sponsor. These are important findings for advertising research practitioners, as they suggest that event attendees focus on how the sponsoring retailer fits with their image and sense of self.

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Market Resistance and Valentine’s Day Events

Close, A.G. & Zinkhan, G.M. (2009). Market Resistance and Valentine’s Day Events. Journal of Business Research. 62 (2), 200-207. (front page of New York Times; featured in New Scientist, Las Vegas Review-Journal)

The objectives of this study are twofold: 1) to uncover the anti-consumption and alternative consumption attitudes and behaviors during a commercial holiday, and 2) to advance resistance theories in these areas. We address these via four complementary methods stemming from seven years of primary research (i.e., retailer interviews, consumer diaries, e-diaries, surveys). In order to extend resistance theories, we examine multi-method data spanning over seven years of events related to a holiday market. In the context of Valentine’s Day, we present findings and develop knowledge on anti-consumption and alternative consumption. Specifically, we introduce the recurring events of gift-resistance, retail-resistance, and market-resistance. In turn, we find that such consumer resistance often co-exists with movements towards individualism and creation of more unique alternative consumption traditions.

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The Impact of Repeat Attendance on Sponsorship Marketing Effects

Lacey, R., Sneath, J.Z., Finney, R.Z., & Close, A.G.(2007). The Impact of Repeat Attendance on Event Sponsorship Effects. Journal of Marketing Communications. 13 (4), 243-255.

Understanding the impact of retaining sponsors and event attendees offers important insight both to organizations that are contemplating long-term sponsorship relationships and to event marketers seeking ongoing sponsorship partnerships. Yet prior to this study, the impact of multi-year sponsorship and attendance on a sponsoring brand have not been investigated. The study addresses this gap through the examination of field survey results obtained during a professional cycling event, the Dodge Tour de Georgia, which drew more than 800,000 spectators over a six-day period in April 2005. Data from a sample of 1,227 attendees suggest that multi-year attendance is associated with enhanced brand image and purchase intentions of an ongoing title sponsor’s products. There are significant differences in: 1) attendees’ attitudes about the title sponsor and 2) their increased likelihood of purchasing the sponsor’s vehicles. Attitudes about the title sponsor were most favorable among spectators who attended the annual event multiple times. Furthermore, those who attended the event multiple times showed an increased likelihood of purchasing a new vehicle from the title sponsor. Advancing relationship theory, we find that consumers appreciate that the corporate brand contributes more to society than its primary business activities, and in turn, consumers state that they act on that appreciation.

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An IMC Approach to Event Marketing: The Effects of Sponsorship and Experience on Customer Attitudes

Sneath, J.Z., Finney, R.Z., & Close, A.G.(2005). An IMC Approach to Event Marketing: The Effects of Sponsorship and Experience on Customer Attitudes. Journal of Advertising Research. 45 (4), 373-381.

The number of companies sponsoring events has increased over the past decade. Yet, for many firms it is unclear how the effectiveness of event marketing activities, as a component of the overall communications mix, can be measured. The current study examines outcomes associated with an automobile manufacturer’s sponsorship of a charitable sporting event. Data for the study was collected from a sample of 565 spectators in five cities during the six-day event. Survey participants were asked to indicate how they had heard about the event and any exhibits and activities in which they participated during the event. In addition, respondents were asked to identify attitudes toward the title sponsor and its products, likelihood of purchasing the sponsor’s cars and trucks and preferred choice of next vehicle. Results of the study provide evidence for inclusion of event marketing in the company’s promotional mix. Further, the findings indicate that providing opportunities for experience with the sponsor’s products during the event may enhance outcomes associated with the event. The role of event marketing as a form of communication is discussed, and recommendations and directions for future research are suggested.

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Balancing Act: Proprietary and Non-Proprietary Sponsored Events

Sneath, J.Z., Finney, R.Z., Lacey, R. & Close, A.G. (2006). Balancing Act: Proprietary and Non-Proprietary Sponsored Events. Marketing Health Services. 26 (1), 27-32.

A budding industry trend is the shift away from sponsorship of high-profile shared events to smaller “exclusive” marketing events. Despite their increased number, it is clear that event-related expenditures are being scrutinized. The lack of support concerning sponsorship effectiveness questions the wisdom of its continued use. Few studies have offered empirical insight into the impact of proprietary versus non-proprietary event marketing. In response, the two objectives of this study are: (1) to explore the trade-offs between proprietary and non-proprietary sponsored marketing events, and (2) to assess the impact of healthcare marketing activities in association with a high-profile sporting event. To address the latter objective, we analyze field survey spectator results gathered at a sporting event during which a healthcare organization’s exhibits were present. We discuss the two major types of event marketing and the trade-offs of each approach. We then describe the event, healthcare marketers, and event beneficiary, along with the results of the study and analysis of the healthcare marketer’s impact on the event. Following the study results, we examine a prominent healthcare organization and reasons why it subscribes to the alternative event marketing approach. Finally, based on the findings of the two approaches, we offer marketing implications for healthcare organizations.

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Consumer Experiences and Market Resistance: An Extension of Resistance Theories

Close, A.G.& Zinkhan G.M. (2007). Consumer Experiences and Market Resistance: An Extension of Resistance Theories. Advances in Consumer Research. Vol. 34, 256-262.

Here, I seek to advance understanding of consumers’ resistance manifest in holiday events. Specifically, I maintain three objectives: 1) to introduce a definition of market resistance, 2) to understand and explain consumer experiences that are associated with consumers’ resistance, and 3) to show what consumers are moving towards via their acts of resistance. I introduce a definition market resistance as an opposition to traditions in the marketplace, with the purpose of creating new behaviors.

I employ five synergistic methods over seven years (2000-2006) to build a theoretical framework to show the characteristics associated with market resistance. In the context of Valentine’s Day, I find that consumer experiences that drive market resistance are unfulfilled expectations, exclusion, terminal materialism, obligations, role exhaustion, and low need perception.  I develop two key areas of resistance theory: ambivalence and avoidance.

Using new communication media, informants who avoid the traditional marketplace often find new places to share negative feelings. Thus, I extend aspects of resistance theory into the digital age by showing how informants do not avoid their negative feelings completely. Instead, they often create new channels for the negative feelings that are less apparent in the traditional marketplace. I show that consumers are moving towards a higher purpose with their resistance. In many cases, I find that consumers are moving towards acts of voluntary simplicity and co-creation of new marketplace traditions. Along with acts of market resistance, consumers create new events, traditions, rituals, and trends. While some informants maintain traditions, many re-create traditions and serve as change-agents. I present implications for theory, limitations, and avenues to extend this framework.

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A Holiday Loved and Loathed: A Consumer Perspective of Valentine’s Day

Close, A.G. & Zinkhan, G.M. (2006). A Holiday Loved and Loathed: A Consumer Perspective of Valentine’s Day. Advances in Consumer Research. Vol. 33.

Valentine’s Day is an event associated with lavish consumption, rituals, expectations, and commercialism. Much of the romance is displayed with store-bought and marketing-driven exchanges, contrary to the unique personalized and intimate nature sometimes associated with Valentine’s Day and associated events. The objective of our multi-method study is to provide insight into Valentine’s rituals, themes, and meanings (as expressed in the U.S.) as a basis for understanding consumer behavior for this holiday.  My three research questions focus on: a) consumer behaviors and rituals (both in-store and in the private spheres), b) key consumer meanings and emergent themes, and c) roles of marketing communications during this holiday. I identify many consumer behaviors associated with Valentine’s Day. In turn, I categorize behaviors into the areas of: gift exchange, card exchange, affection, food and drink preparation and consumption, and grooming/clothing. Many of these behaviors revolve around intimacy and sexuality. Some key meanings associated with these behaviors include: “belongingness”, “altruism”, “affection and intimacy”, “mutual expectations”, “self-gifts”, and “negative feelings”.

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Sex-Typing of Leisure Activities: A Test of Two Theories

Zinkhan, G.M., Prenshaw, P., & Close, A.G. (2004). Sex-Typing of Leisure Activities. Advances in Consumer Research. Vol. 31, 412-419.

It is generally accepted that perceptions of the suitability of particular leisure events and activities for males and females exist, and are based on sex-related stereotypes. Colley (1987) cites two sources from which these sex-related perceptions may emanate. First, they may be based on views of what is appropriate for the roles men and women enact at work and in the home. Second, perceptions may reflect stereotypes of male and female physical and psychological traits (particularly in relation to sport participation). The appropriateness of particular leisure events and activities for males or females is often used as a predictor for participation. However, research has only investigated the sex-appropriateness of sports and physical activities within the leisure domain (Colley, Nash, O’Donnell and Restorick 1987). Therefore, the first objective is to create and validate a comprehensive list of leisure activities and to classify these activities as “masculine,” “feminine,” or “neutral”.

The second objective is to investigate the determinants of sex-typing of leisure activities and events. The theories of Bem (1981) and Spence (1984) purport to explain the phenomenon of sex-typing; the former takes a personality approach, while the latter takes an attitudinal approach toward understanding sex-typing. A central issue in testing Bem and Spence’s theories, concerns whether a personality approach or an attitude approach is more appropriate. Although personality research has contributed much to our understanding of psychological phenomena, some researchers are disenchanted with the sometimes weak relationships, which appear to exist between personality and behavior (Kassarjian and Sheffet 1991). Spence’s attitude approach, within the domain of sex-typing, represents one possible alternative. Thus, this study investigates the effect of gender personality and gender-role attitudes upon sex-typing of leisurely events, and seeks to determine the individual and combined effects of these gender-related phenomena upon sex-typing of leisure activities. As leisure activities transgress online, a re-evaluation of gender theory is called for as it pertains to leisurely behavior and leisure events.

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Marketing Communications, Brand Loyalty and Teenagers: A Logit Choice Model

Close, A.G. “Marketing Communications, Brand Loyalty and Teenagers: A Logit Choice Model,” Working Paper.

Brand loyalty is often a desired outcome of event marketing communications. This research focuses on the impact of demographic variables, namely as teenage status and gender, on brand loyalty. Other variables studied include taste, quality, image, and the utility of the soft drink. Via an empirical application utilizing marketing modeling techniques, I examine brand loyalty in the soft drink category. To do this, I use a logit model. Survey data among South American soft drink consumers (n=6000) are collected and used to estimate a loyalty model. After interpretation, I discuss the findings, implications, and recommendations. My main finding indicates that teenagers and males are the most likely to be brand loyal in the soft drink category, and that there is no interaction effect between gender and age. I discuss the findings with their potential impact on marketing communications decisions relevant to gender and the teenage market on an international level.

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How the Anticipation Can Be As Great As the Experience: Explaining Event Sponsorship Exhibit Outcomes via Affective Forecasting

Close, A.G. & Lacey, R. (in press). How the Anticipation Can Be As Great As the Experience: Explaining Event Sponsorship Exhibit Outcomes via Affective Forecasting. Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising.

Via field surveys of attendees at a multi-day professional sporting event (n=1,089), the authors contribute an interesting finding—that the anticipation of participating in an event sponsor’s exhibit area is just as great as the experience itself when it comes to evaluating the sponsor. The study’s results suggest that the mere presence of event marketing activities (in addition to sponsorship communications) improves sponsorship outcomes. Affective forecasting theory is introduced to the advertising/event marketing literature here, and used to explain the study’s findings and provide implications for advertisers who engage in sponsored event marketing.

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A Gender Role Analysis of Valentine Event Marketing

Close, A.G. (2012). “A Gender Role Analysis of Valentine Event Marketing” In Otnes, C.C. & Tuncay Zayer, L. (Eds.) Gender, Culture, and Consumer Behavior. (p. 223-252). Routledge.

Valentine’s Day is a holiday and an event that may appear light spirited for       females; yet, the emotions revealed online and offline and consumer behavior decisions for many females in the U.S. can be quite complex. This multi-method research uncovers themes that contribute to an understanding of female consumer behavior, expanded gender roles, and gift exchange rituals in the context of Valentine’s Day. Extending prior conceptual discussions, findings suggest that females have escalating expectations (from themselves as well as loved ones). Despite this being a day where some women feel that they are a queen for a day, other females share some less-desirable feelings and emotions related to Valentine’s Day events. Some, even women happily in a romantic relationship, feel a degree of exclusion on the holiday. Other women feel the holiday is laden with materialism and terminal gift syndrome, obligations, and a surprisingly low need of enacting traditional Valentine exchange traditions. A final theme uncovered here is that of gender role exhaustion. Women perceive a broader gender role that transcends that of just recognizing their romantic interest. Women feel responsibility and obligation to recognize their female loved ones: mothers, sisters, daughters, grandmothers, girlfriends (especially single girlfriends), and even their pets. The day has broadened for women and there is a shift in the sphere of exchange and consumption from the traditional marketplace to the virtual marketplace and/or the home. Women rely on the Internet and online platforms to discuss their roles, and to help carry out their roles (e.g., via e-tail purchases and by sending virtual Valentine’s).

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Fit Matters? Asymmetrical Impact of Effectiveness on Sponsors and Event Marketers

Close, A.G. & Lacey, R. (in press) Fit Matters? Asymmetrical Impact of Effectiveness on Sponsors and Event Marketers. Sport Marketing Quarterly.

This sport marketing study establishes a clearer demarcation between an event sponsor and a sponsored event in relation to investigating the potential value of congruity. Based on 1,615 field surveys, we uncover the asymmetrical impact of event-sponsor fit on the title sponsor and sponsored professional cycling event. Specifically, the study reveals how consumers’ positive perceptions of the sponsor rise when they perceive greater fit with the event; yet, congruity does not influence consumers’ attitudes toward the event. That is, even when the event and sponsor are perceived as a mismatch, it does not impact how the attendee assesses the event. Event-sponsor fit makes for a stronger sponsorship investment, especially when the sponsor is seen as socially responsible. The tested model illustrates how the transfer of corporate social responsibility serves to bridge favorable attitudes toward the event with positive sponsor brand associations and purchasing intent for the sponsor’s brands.

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How Fit Connects Service Brand Sponsors with Consumers’ Passions for Sponsored Events

Lacey, R. & Close, A.G. How Fit Connects Service Brand Sponsors with Consumers’ Passions for Sponsored Events. International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship.

Despite the strong trend for service brands sponsoring events, the literature provides few theory-based and field-tested guidelines for services marketing managers who are charged with selecting events to sponsor. In response, this study provides a congruity-based framework for sponsors’ decision-making and tests the hypothesized model explaining linkages among service brand sponsors, a sporting event, and consumer attitudes. The study’s findings help clarify not only how congruent event-sponsor fit can be realised but also the potentially valuable role that event-sponsor fit serves toward strengthening key consumer relationship outcomes.

Structural equation modeling is used to test the posited model using replicate samples of two distinct service brands (AT&T: n=563 and United Community Bank: n=435) operating at different levels of corporate sponsorship of the sixth annual Tour de Georgia (TDG) professional cycling race which drew an estimated 400,000 attendees. Investigation of the effectiveness of different brands at the same event is important to marketers as it reflects the plethora of brand messages typically communicated at sports events. The results do not reveal that tested individual brand sponsor congruity moderates consumers’ attitudes toward the event or sponsor. Surprisingly, AT&T did not experience any discernable advantage of sponsorship, despite its position as the title sponsor of the TDG and its high brand equity. Based on this preliminary evidence, the results offer directional evidence that sponsors may not necessarily reap results that are commensurate with their sponsorship level or brand equity position. Thus, established regional service brands may experience sponsorship effectiveness at regional or community events where their sponsorship investments can be recognised without serving as the title sponsor.

The current study extends previous congruity research because it lays out contributing factors for establishing event-sponsor fit. As a form of fan involvement, activeness in the event domain (i.e., sports activity) is shown to positively influence how consumers assess the link between an individual service brand and the tested sponsored sports event. In addition, the results make it clear that consumers form more favourable event-sponsor linkages when they enjoy the event as consumer affect toward the event is shown to positively and directly influence their perceptions of event-sponsor fit. This finding is particularly relevant for service brands high in functional or utilitarian properties. In particular, sponsorship of hedonic events can convey similar values and imagery and/or offer a logical connection with the service brand. In addition, the hypothesized path between consumers’ brand knowledge and their assessments of the sponsor’s fit with the event finds multi-contextual support.

The study further demonstrates how desirable relational outcomes are positively influenced by event-sponsor fit. Specifically, congruency positively and directly influences consumer’s favourable brand commitment to the sponsor’s brands, which in turn, benefits the sponsor by consumers’ intentions to purchase the sponsor’s services. Overall, the findings show how events and service brand sponsorships synergistically facilitate and deepen consumer relationships by connecting service brands with consumers’ passions for the sponsored event and its activities.

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It Ain’t Easy Being Green: Bridging the Gap Among Macro, Meso, and Micro Agendas

Fowler, A.R. & Close, A.G. (in press) It Ain’t Easy Being Green: Bridging the Gap Among Macro, Meso, and Micro Agendas. Journal of Advertising. 41 (4), 119-132.

While not specific to event marketing, this study considers going green–as many events are doing for prosocial as well as financial reasons. The green gap is traditionally thought of as the gap between how consumers intend to behave in regards to green living and how they actually behave. We extend the idea of the green gap by demonstrating a gap between differing agendas in green advertising. A content analysis and phenomenological interviews suggest that there is a macro agenda of saving the planet associated with non-profit green advertisers. There is a meso agenda associated with for profit enterprises. These commercial approaches do not appear to be best connected with consumers’ a micro agenda of saving one’s own part of the planet (or at the very least, of not wasting one’s part of it as perpetuated by consumers). We then provide suggestions for green advertisers in bridging this green gap among for profit, non-profit, and consumers.

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