The History of Corporate Sponsorship

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Corporate sponsorship is seen everywhere, from a charity race to a shopping mall. In corporate sponsorships, businesses donate or pay a certain amount of money to a charity, event or other business in exchange for display of the company logo or other considerations. Its origins reach back to the beginning of commercial media in the U.S.

Origins

Some of the earliest corporate sponsorships occurred at the beginning of the media boom. Commercial radio and television bloomed thanks to corporate sponsorship. The sponsors often put their names in the titles of the shows, such as "The Maxwell House Showboat" or "The Eveready Hour." With the rise of commercials, sponsorships slowed.

Growth

In the late 1980s through the 1990s, corporate sponsorships exploded. For example, in the late 1980s, college bowl games lost their traditional names in favor of their sponsors: the Fiesta Bowl became the Sunkist Fiesta Bowl, the Orange Bowl became the FedEx Orange Bowl, and so on. Sports' stadium naming rights (such as AT&T Park) followed suit. Corporate sponsorships also became more integral for nonprofit organizations.

Status

Corporate sponsorship in the 2000s is a routine part of business. Sometimes, the term is clouded by countless projects from organizations requesting funds in the name of corporate sponsorship, but offering little other than a logo on a t-shirt. True corporate sponsorships, as originally conceived, offer significant marketing benefits to sponsors.