The Loh Down On Science

How advertising affects die-hard sports fans

Bee & Dalakas, J. Mktng. Comm., 2013.

Sample ads used in the study.

Everyone loves Doritos!  Unless they’re being eaten by whom?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Advertisers, take heed:  A new study says that if your ad features the rival team of a sports-fanatic customer, you’ll probably get a no-sale.

Meet marketing researchers Colleen Bee and Vassilis Dalakas.  They surveyed both average fans and what they called "highly identified," or super fans. These fans looked at ads featuring either a home team or a rival team, and with either a strong or a weak endorsement message. 

Bee says “average” sports fans reacted positively to the strong ad.  But super fans?  It made absolutely no difference if the ad was weak or strong. All that mattered was which team was featured.  They were drawn to their team's ad and repelled by the other team's ad.

Apparently über fans incorporate their teams as part of their identity. This is the overwhelming influence on how they process consumer information.  

Is catering to super fans really that important?  Well, considering sports sponsorships rake in about thirty-nine billion dollars annually, my guess is that advertisers say rah-rah to that.

Wardrobe malfunctions at half-time, though—everyone's a fan.  Or not.

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The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, in partnership with the University of California, Irvine, and 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


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