Legal Battles for Sponsorship Exclusivity: The Cases of the World Cup and Nascar
Sport Management Review, 14(3), pp. 287-296, 2011
17 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2013
Date Written: 2011
The proliferation of sponsorships in the sports marketplace poses a challenge to corporate sponsors attempting to establish a unique brand position apart from the clutter of commercialization. As a result, the competition between corporate rivals for sponsorship exclusivity (i.e., the exclusive right to sponsor a particular sports team, league, or event) in the world’s highest profile sporting arenas has begun to spill into the courtroom. The purpose of this paper is to review the cases of MasterCard v. FIFA, and AT&T v. NASCAR, and discuss the relevance of these contract disputes to sponsorship scholars and practitioners. Specifically, the courts’ finding of irreparable harm faced by the excluded sponsor offers an intriguing legal recognition of the theorized goodwill and inimitability of corporate affiliation with a specific sponsored enterprise. The cases also contribute an opposing view of best practices, where legal ramifications arise from treating sponsorship as a property-based resource and neglecting the relational dimensions of collaborative communication, trust, and commitment emphasized by contemporary sponsorship theory.
Keywords: sponsorship, law, corporate rivalry, contracts, strategic alliance
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