The Olympic Games and associative sponsorship: Brand personality identity creation, communication and congruence

Richard Rutter, John Nadeau, Ulf Aagerup, Fiona Lettice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore the brand relationships between a mega-sports event, the Olympic Games, and its branded main sponsors, using the lens of brand personality. Design/methodology/approach: The study uses the internet-based website communications of the sponsor and event brands to assess congruence in brand personality identity exhibited in the communications of sponsors and how these relate to the event brand itself. A lexical analysis of the website text identifies and graphically represents the dominant brand personality traits of the brands relative to each other. Findings: The results show the Olympic Games is communicating excitement as a leading brand personality dimension. Sponsors of the Olympics largely take on its dominant brand dimension, but do not adapt their whole brand personality to that of the Olympics and benefit by adding excitement without losing their individual character. The transference is more pronounced for long-running sponsors. Practical implications: Sponsorship of the Olympic Games does give brands the opportunity to capture or borrow the excitement dimension alongside building or reinforcing their own dominant brand personality trait or to begin to subtly alter their brand positioning. Originality/value: This study is the first to examine how the sponsor’s brand aligns with the event being sponsored as a basis for developing a strong shared image and associative dimensions complimentary to the positioning of the brand itself.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-107
Number of pages23
JournalInternet Research
Issue number1
Early online date11 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2020


  • Brand personality
  • Mega-events
  • Olympic sponsorship
  • Sports marketing
  • Website communications

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