One of the key debates in the sponsorship literature has been the importance of congruence between a sponsor and the event being sponsored. Functional sponsorship congruence describes a situation where the sponsor's product or service is aligned intrinsically with the event. Image congruence, in contrast, exists when some aspect of an event's image is similar to some aspect of the sponsoring brand. Little work, however, has been undertaken on the interaction between functional and image congruence. Is it worth sponsoring an event if there is low functional and/or low image congruence? Or would the sponsor (ignoring altruistic motives) be better off leaving the money in the bank? From a service perspective, this study investigated such interactions by means of an experiment using representative mock advertisements. No evidence was found of interaction effects between functional and image congruence, which suggests a compartmentalization of congruence rather than its being a multi-dimensional construct. Sponsorships involving low functional and low image congruence were found unable to create more favorable communication outcomes than no sponsorship at all. Managerial implications are discussed and future research directions suggested.
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