The animosity transfer process: Consumer denigration of foreign sponsors and testing potential mitigation strategies

Rob Angell, Paul Bottomley, Matthew Gorton, Ben Marder, Antonia Erz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Sponsorships involving foreign brands are ubiquitous, but those involving a company from an animosity-evoking country can adversely affect rather than enhance domestic consumers’ attitude towards the brand. This paper explains the mechanisms by which brand denigration occurs, introducing and validating a model of the animosity transfer process as well as considering if various framing and timing strategies attenuate or lead to adverse consumer responses.

Study 1 tests the animosity transfer model, utilizing a scenario in which English consumers respond to a German brand sponsoring the England soccer team. Study 2 assesses the generalizability of the model in the context of Indian consumers’ responses to sponsorship of their cricket team by a Chinese company, and the extent to which an honest framing of the sponsorship choice through the announcement affects outcomes. Study 3 returns to an England-Germany country dyad, testing whether priming consumers with information about the sponsorship prior to a full announcement, attenuates or intensifies the impact of animosity on the studied outcomes.

The three studies demonstrate that when consumers learn of a sponsorship, it triggers an evaluation process in which the agonistic emotion (anger) they feel plays a pivotal role. More intense emotional appraisals weaken perceptions of sponsor-sponsee congruence, which together act as consecutive process variables mediating the relationship between animosity and sponsorship outcomes. Framing the sponsorship announcement with an honest justification for the partnership can improve outcomes but not amongst those with the highest animosity. Providing consumers with an advanced warning (preannouncement) of the sponsorship also amplifies consumers’ unfavorable evaluations showcasing how difficult animosity is to manage in this context.

The animosity transfer model aids understanding of the mechanisms by which animosity affects brand attitude for foreign (out-group) sponsors. It identifies how animosity generates agonistic emotions and in turn weakens perceived fit between the sponsor and sponsee, leading to adverse consumer responses.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Marketing Review
Early online date10 Aug 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Aug 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • animosity
  • agonistic emotion
  • fit
  • attitude
  • sponsorship
  • framing


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