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Experiential sponsorship activation at a sports mega-event: the case of Cisco at London 2012

Leah Gillooly (Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK)
Philip Crowther (Sheffield Business School, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK)
Dominic Medway (Institute of Place Management, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK)

Sport, Business and Management

ISSN: 2042-678X

Article publication date: 11 September 2017




The purpose of this paper is to explore the application of event design principles in the creation and execution of effective experiential sponsorship activations (ESAs) by B2B brands and examine the challenges posed by the sponsorship context to sponsors seeking to create ESAs, with proposed potential solutions.


A case study of Cisco’s ESA activities as part of its London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games sponsorship activation is developed, drawing on interviews with key Cisco employees and secondary sources of data, both internal and external to Cisco.


Blending the event design principles typically associated with B2B events with those more commonly found in corporate hospitality or B2C events enables sponsors to address the cognitive needs of attendees as business representatives, while also satisfying their needs as individuals seeking more sensorial experiences. Effective use of event design principles, creative marketing and promotion, and collaboration with other sponsors allow brands to overcome constraints placed on them by the unpredictable nature of sponsorship, sponsorship rights agreements and the increased clutter in the sponsorship environment.

Research limitations/implications

Existing knowledge on sponsorship activation is extended, drawing on principles of event design to offer a sponsor-focused perspective on the creation and execution of effective ESAs for B2B brands. Existing thinking around B2B event design is challenged and augmented when considering its application to ESA design.

Practical implications

Inter-sponsor collaboration and the blending of cognitive and sensorial elements of event design are important for sponsors seeking to create and deliver effective ESAs.


The paper draws on the event design literature to appraise the execution of ESA by B2B brands within the context of event sponsorship.



Gillooly, L., Crowther, P. and Medway, D. (2017), "Experiential sponsorship activation at a sports mega-event: the case of Cisco at London 2012", Sport, Business and Management, Vol. 7 No. 4, pp. 404-425.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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