Previous research suggests that firms should articulate incongruent sponsorships to provide a rationale for the relationship between sponsor and sponsorship object. Fit articulation is a strategy that communicates shared associations between sponsor and object. Based on conclusion explicitness theory, this paper aims to conceptualize and tests two fit articulation strategies in sponsorships: open-ended and closed-ended.
Research hypotheses were tested in two experiments.
Only open-ended fit articulation improved brand attitudes. Mediation analyses show that while open-ended articulation influenced brand attitudes through brand image (Study 1 and Study 2) and altruistic motive attributions (Study 2), there was an indirect effect of closed-ended articulation on brand attitudes through global fit perceptions (Study 2).
The results from two experiments suggest that incongruent sponsors should use open-ended conclusions about a shared image dimension. Although explicit arguments may increase global perceptions of fit, they may impede a positive impact on the articulated brand image dimension and generation of altruistic motive attribution. Therefore, sponsorship managers should be careful in terms of using explicit arguments for fit when the sponsorship is incongruent because such arguments may hinder articulation from generating goodwill and a positive brand image.
This is the first paper to develop and test different types of fit articulation strategies in sponsorships.
Skard, S. and Thorbjornsen, H. (2017), "Closed-ended and open-ended fit articulation: Communication strategies for incongruent sponsorships", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 51 No. 7/8, pp. 1414-1439. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJM-01-2016-0011
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