Exposing Underage Consumers to Alcohol Branding in Sport Sponsorship: An Abstract
An overall research question grounded in theories of arousal is: Among underage consumers, what is the role (if any) of exposure to alcohol sponsorship and arousal of the sport on their attitude to the alcohol brand sponsor and subsequent choice between the sponsor’s alcoholic beverage vs. a non-alcoholic drink? In this set of experiments, we narrowed the sample to underage drinkers (age 18–20) to investigate the effects of the sponsorship dynamic on alcohol consumption choice. The pilot test (n = 24) is in the context of Ultimate Fighting Championship, sponsored by Bud Light. Arousal is manipulated, while brand familiarity, prior brand attitude, and product category involvement are measured. The dependent variable is beverage choice (beer vs. non-alcoholic beverage). Results indicated that the arousal manipulation, sponsorship manipulation, and their interaction did not influence the level of positive emotion. Together, this result showed that arousal level is important for future study. Thus, the main study seeks to build on this in the soccer context. In total, 124 participants were assigned to one of the four experiment conditions: a 2 (sponsored brand: alcohol brand of Budweiser vs. non-alcohol brand of Toyota) × 2 (level of arousal: high vs. low) between subjects randomized experiment. A two-way ANCOVA with attitude toward the brand and purchase intention as the dependent variable revealed significant main effects of the brands and interaction effects between brands and arousal levels. We captured significant main effects of a brand on brand attitude (F (1, 118) = 14.14, p < 0.001, partial η2 = 0.107) and purchase intention (F (1, 118) = 18.48, p < 0.001, partial η2 = 0.135), but did not find main effects of arousal. Participants who were exposed to the non-alcohol sponsor (i.e., Toyota) during the match exhibited more favorable brand attitude than those exposed to the alcohol brand (i.e., Budweiser) (Mnon-alcohol = 5.58, SD = 1.35 vs. Malcohol = 4.75, SD = 1.50). For purchase intention, consumers who watched the non-alcohol-sponsored match indicated a higher level of purchase intention than those who watched the alcohol brand-sponsored match (Mnon-alcohol = 4.91, SD = 1.40 vs. Malcohol = 3.84, SD = 1.68). We found a significant interaction between arousal level and sponsored brand type on purchase intention (F (1, 118) = 5.57, p = 0.020, partial η2 = 0.045). For those who watched the high-aroused match, the discrepancy between the non-alcohol brand and the alcohol brand (Mnon-alcohol = 5.15, SD = 1.35 vs. Malcohol = 3.45, SD = 1.69) was greater than for those who watched the low-aroused match (Mnon-alcohol = 4.66, SD = 1.43 vs. Malcohol = 4.24, SD = 1.60). In conclusion, our research investigated the role of different types of sponsorship in underage drinker’s brand attitude and behavior.