Event Marketing Sponsorship Impact: a Test of Congruency and Engagement in an Ethnic Festival Context

Document Type

Conference Proceeding



Format of Original

1 p.

Publication Date



American Academy of Advertising

Source Publication

Proceedings of the Conference of the American Academy of Advertising

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

Shelves: HF5801 .A44 Memorial Level 4 Upper


Data collected by an intercept survey distributed at a medium-size ethnic festival in the Midwest tests the effects of different event sponsorship tactics on aided and unaided brand recall. Two research questions are tested. First, how do brands with greater ethnic congruence resonate with festival visitors, and what role, if any, does ethnic congruence of visitors with the event have in enhancing the recall (top-of-mind and aided) of such products? Second, does the use of passive or engaging tactics affect recall (top-of-mind and aided)? More engaging (or interactive) tactics are shown to produce higher recall than passive tactics. Likewise, attendees who identify as Ethnically Congruent are shown to perform significantly better on the aided brand recall instrument than non-identifying respondents. Congruence between product, attendee, and festival appears to improve recall of sponsors’ brands. Ethnically congruent attendees successfully identify event sponsors at a rate (50 percent) exceeding the typical scores reported by past literature on major sponsors of national sports leagues. More engaging tactics also make a substantial difference. These two effects are commonly related, the authors argue, to Petty and Cacioppo’s Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM). According to the ELM, motivation to engage a message is an important factor in whether or not audiences dedicate significant cognitive attention to a communication. While mass media advertisers must constantly innovate and compete to obtain this higher attentiveness, sponsors of festivals can expect attendees to arrive seeking direct personal engagement at the event. Ethnic congruency allows ethnic brands to more readily benefit from this natural engagement from visitors. Likewise, a highly involving tactic is more likely to trigger central cues, while a less involving tactic is likely to trigger only peripheral cues. Both these engagement factors are mechanisms for understanding sponsorship’s operational relationship to the central and peripheral routes of the ELM. Attendees’ ratings of six common event marketing tactics confirms that more engaging tactics such as samples and product demonstrations are more liked and are more likely to influence their purchase decisions than less engaging tactics such as signage and ads in event programs.


Published as part of the proceedings of the conference, Conference of the American Academy of Advertising, 2012: 132. Publisher Link.