The transfer of positive image attributes from properties such as individual athletes, events or teams to the brand is a fundamental goal of sport sponsorship. However, due to their propensity to scandals such as drug abuse, corruption or match fixing, sponsorship properties in sport often receive negative publicity. This project examines how sponsors can prevent their brand from negative image transfer effects in situations of crisis. For this purpose, the project compares the effects of different communicational response strategies (apology, denial, no comment). The effects of these response strategies are analyzed depending on changes in the condition under which the response is given (high sponsor responsibility vs. low sponsor responsibility).
The results show that the effectiveness of the response strategies is contingent on the level of crisis responsibility that is attributed to the sponsor: in the case of high responsibility attributions, only an apology protects the sponsor from reputational damage, while apology and denial are equally effective in the case of low responsibility attributions. The findings also highlight the idea that sponsors should avoid a no-comment strategy, independent of their crisis responsibility.