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Willingness to Engage with Sponsors: A New Measure to Predict Effectiveness


At Elevent, our work with clients on sponsorship strategy and market audits revolves around identifying unique opportunities for brands and seeking potential properties that align with both the brand and target audience.

It’s easy to assume that some partnerships that look promising on paper will translate to real-world success. Drawing from personal experience in the corporate sector, I once developed a strategy based on what I believed was a powerful insight, only to discover that our target audience wasn’t interested in our brand.

This underscores the importance of a metric we’ve devised: the Willingness to Engage Index.

Understanding Brand-Property Fit
To truly gauge a brand’s fit with a property, one must delve deeper than just demographics. Factors such as audience attitude towards brands and even personality traits, like openness, come into play.

Elevent’s Two-Step Approach to Assess Potential Effectiveness includes an internal process to assess properties based on their traits to score the activation potential, and a second step involving research with primary data.

Sponsorship Environment and Activation Potential

  • Evaluate the sponsorship atmosphere of the property and its activation potential.
  • Assess the property’s flexibility in granting rights for direct audience interaction.
  • Can the sponsor secure activation space, offer product samples, or promotional items?
  • Can the brand leverage the property’s owned media for the sponsor’s benefit through promotions, drive-to-store initiatives, or contests.
  • Are there possibilities for B2B initiatives and involving employees in activities such as volunteering.
  • Assess opportunities for content usage and adequate time for on-site audience engagement.

Crucially, is there sufficient time to engage with audiences on-site? Some sports environments, for example, do not allow for effective on-site activation. Audiences might show up for a game and leave immediately afterward, leading to suboptimal results for on-site experiential activations.

Is the sponsorship landscape too saturated, making it challenging for a typical sponsor to stand out?

A sponsorship manager can evaluate these factors and assign scores to all properties in the portfolio, as well as to potential properties.

Willingness to engage with sponsors

Another approach involves gauging the audience’s receptiveness to sponsors. Are they open to interacting with brands? Put differently, is this a conducive environment for a brand to achieve its communication and marketing goals?

Elevent has formulated a 7-variable index, serving as an effective tool to determine the extent to which event attendees or sports fans are open and willing to engage with sponsors.  This tool provides insights into the overall environment of a property, predicting the potential success of sponsorships within that audience. This metric is termed the Willingness to Engage Index (WTE score).

This index is not only insightful at the individual property level but also offers a broader perspective when examining the percentage of audiences with high WTE scores across various sports and categories.

In a recent nation-wide US study, Elevent evaluated the WTE scores across diverse sports.

Football is by far the most popular sport in the country and arguably the most watched. However, it has the lowest WTE score of all sports surveyed, while smaller niche properties had very high proportions of fans willing to engage with brands.

For example, Pro cycling and Esports, which are niche sports in the US, had 66% and 60% of their fans, respectively, who were strongly open to sponsors.

These findings have interesting managerial implications. A sponsorship portfolio might be balanced between properties that deliver many impressions and smaller properties that allow for more direct, meaningful, and potentially longer-lasting interactions.

Some sports, such as MLS, Women’s pro golf, NASCAR, and tennis (both women’s and men’s), seem to offer both strong reach and high WTE. This could be an ideal balance for some brands.



Elevent conducted an online survey with 2,000 completed responses from adult Americans (aged 18 and above) in Q1 2022. The survey aimed to gain insights into the impact of sports sponsorships on American consumers. It covered a wide range of topics, including the influence of sports sponsorships, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and athlete advocacy, stadium naming rights, sports fan bases, and more. Among the respondents, 437 identified as runners (engaging in running/jogging at least once or twice a year, with the majority running/jogging at least once a week), while 343 identified as competitive runners (having participated in a competitive running race). The full survey results were weighted using Census Bureau data, considering age, gender, race, and region of residence, with a margin of error of ±2% (based on probability, with a confidence level of 95%).

To learn more about Elevent, delve into this survey on consumer perspectives regarding the impact of sports sponsorship, or arrange a demo of our Sponsorship Lifecycle Management platform, please contact us.


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