Crowd Funding: the New Frontier of Sports Sponsorship?

Yann Abdourazakou, Marie-Josèphe Leroux-Sostenes


Background: At a time when the economy becomes increasingly unstable, some large companies put an end to their partnerships. Sports sponsorship must therefore be reinvented with a more collaborative vision. Individuals but also corporations can now actively help their favorite teams or athletes and be rewarded for their success. Objective: The present study aims at studying these two concepts by analyzing their potential substitution as financing models. Our research offers an insight into the implementation of those two concepts. Our goal is to assess the potential substitution or co-existence of sponsorship and crowd funding in communication strategies. Method: This study is based on two qualitative analyses. The first was made with crowd funding platform professionals considered as equity financing experts. Five interviews were conducted, with an interview guide articulated around two axes: corporate motivations supporting crowd funding projects and perception of substitution between sponsorship and crowd funding. Second, based on the business objectives identified among sponsors, a grid of thematic analysis was built. A qualitative study was then conducted with project leaders (people looking for financing). The information was gathered via mail. Following those two steps, an analysis of the career financing modes chronology for the athletes prior to filing a project was studied. Results: The results of our qualitative analysis articulate points of views from platform leaders and elite athletes, i.e. users of these platforms. It appears that specialists see these two sport funding modes as complement, particularly in the communication strategy of large corporations. But results show that there is no systematic permanence between getting a project funded and having access to corporate financing. The study shows the existence of a hybrid model between sponsorship and crowd funding: participatory sponsorship. Conclusion: Sponsorship targets long-term relation whereas crowd funding is more project-based with a short-term approach.

Keywords: Sponsoring; crowd funding; awareness; communication strategies; sports projects

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