The purpose of this paper is show how sponsors in a major sponsored event may react when facing a potential doping affair. The Tour de France cycling competition is a premier global sporting event – broadcast worldwide – and thus attracts very significant sponsorship. Cycling teams are named after their team sponsors. Recent global news has, however, shown that there are doping scandals involved in this event which impact both teams and team sponsors. When a doping scandal occurs in a team, the sponsors have to react rapidly and expeditiously to protect their brand reputation.
To ascertain potential reactions, team sponsors are interviewed in depth and their reactions to a doping affair assessed. The sponsors represent different brands and their commitment as team sponsors also varies.
Research shows that sponsors react similarly when a doping scandal occurs in their team and adopt similar communication strategies in that situation. While best practice is apparent, doping policies put into place by sponsors nevertheless differ. These practices are more than just preventative in nature, i.e. they anticipate and try to prevent doping affairs.
The teams and sponsors are engaged in a long-term relationship to build brand heritage. Undoubtedly, doping is taken very seriously, as consequences can be severe. In this sense, the sport, the teams and the sponsors share the same vision and objectives.
Team sponsors reactions while facing a potential doping affair have not yet been assessed. Best practices become visible which might serve as guidelines in other global sporting events, also generating significant sponsorships.
Blumrodt, J. and Kitchen, P.J. (2015), "The Tour de France: corporate sponsorships and doping accusations", Journal of Business Strategy, Vol. 36 No. 2, pp. 41-48. https://doi.org/10.1108/JBS-04-2014-0046
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