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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Corporate sponsorship strategies in Canadian women's ice hockey Westgate, Melissa Lynne

Abstract

This thesis reports findings from a study that analyzed the sponsorship strategies, objectives, and benefits of the Canadian Hockey Association's women's ice hockey support program. There has been a notable increase in recent years in the number of women sport spectators and sport participants in ice hockey, which has increased the sport's potential for sponsorship. Women's ice hockey is Canada's fastest growing sport with approximately 40,000 females registered from coast to coast - an increase of over 400% in the last 10 years. (http://www. canadianhockey.ca). Although small in size compared to the men's program, (Women= 37,700, Men= 470,714) these numbers suggest that women's hockey is a good candidate for targeted sponsorship marketing approaches such as direct marketing and relationship marketing. Relationship and direct marketing are approaches to marketing and business communications that have emerged recently in the literature and can be used to enhance the benefits of sponsorship. Relationship marketing can be described as an integrated effort to identify, maintain, and build a network with individual customers and to continuously strengthen the network for the mutual benefit of all parties involved (McDonald and Milne, 1997). Direct marketing methods can be used to help identify, build and maintain relationships with customers and prospective customers using database technologies. According to Shani (1997), database marketing is a necessary tool to implement relationship marketing and involves the collection of information about past, current, and potential customers to build a customer database. The thesis study was designed to assess the marketing and sponsorship activities of thirteen major corporate partners involved in the women's program at the premier ($500,000+), broadcaster, or associate/program ($100,000+) levels. Eight corporate partners participated in the study. Interviews were conducted, in each case, in the offices of the respective corporations. Each interview was recorded and transcripts were prepared of the tape recordings. In addition to the audio recordings and transcripts, observations were made on-site and a wide range of sponsorship-related promotional materials were collected. The data were analyzed according to the corporate objectives, strategies and benefits obtained and the marketing & sponsorship methods that were utilized. Four major sponsorship objectives were found, ranging from traditional goals such as brand (and corporate) image & awareness and community involvement to more innovative objectives in sales and integrated promotions and advertising. Nine core corporate programs offered to the sponsors by the CHA are outlined in the thesis including: the Initiation Program; Skills Development Program; Experience a Dream; Fun Days; Medals of Achievement; Schools Program; PlayRight; the Coaching Certification, Development and Rewards Program; and Women in Coaching and Role Model Seminars. The research found a number of benefits of these core programs for the sponsors, including opportunities for relationship marketing, direct marketing, and niche marketing. Although for the most part CHA sponsors were very optimistic and supportive of the women's ice hockey program, there were a number of barriers and issues that concerned them. This research shows, however, that corporate partners for the most part were able to overcome these barriers and that they felt it was important to support the women's game of ice hockey in Canada.

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