Ethical Sponsorship and Advertising in Sport

Ethical Sponsorship and Advertising in Sport
Prepared by  Prepared by: Dr Ralph Richards, Senior Research Consultant, Clearinghouse for Sport, Australian Sports Commission
Last updated  Last updated: 3 May 2017
Please refer to the Clearinghouse for Sport disclaimer page for
more information concerning this content.

Ethical Sponsorship and Advertising in Sport 
iStock, 186553687


Sponsorship, in most cases, is not meant to be philanthropy; it is a mutually beneficial business arrangement. In the competitive sponsorship environment of sport, a company wishing to align their brand with a sport does so to gain a host of economic, public relations and product placement advantages. Sponsors also hope to leverage their association with an athlete, team, league, or the sport itself to gain public trust, acceptance, or alignment with the perceived image a sport has created or acquired.

In return, sports receive financial benefit for their association with a company, product or campaign. There are usually additional non-financial advantages to be gained as a consequence of a sport’s association with a sponsor's brand.

Advertising may be linked to sponsorship or act as a stand-alone investment strategy by a company or organisation. In contrast, a company may choose not to sponsor a sport or team, but purchase parallel advertising at a sports venue or during broadcasting of that sport’s events. Thus, the association between a company or product and a sport or event may not always be under the control of the sport or team because venue or broadcast advertising may not be the same as the sponsorship of the athletes or teams competing.

Key Messages 


Brand association between sport and sponsor is intended to link the public perception of the two entities.


Product usage, or misuse, that may result in personal or social harm raises ethical concerns.


Government regulation, voluntary industry practice, and the decisions made by sports are options for limiting the potential consequences of product use, overuse, or misuse that may cause personal or social harm.

Clearinghouse members

Please login to unlock this topic

Please contact us if you are experiencing any difficulty accessing the Clearinghouse information resources that you require.
If you are not a member of the Clearinghouse for Sport please join now

Related Topics


Is this information complete? 

The Clearinghouse for Sport is a sector-wide knowledge sharing initiative, and as such your contributions are encouraged and appreciated. If you would like to suggest a resource, submit a publication, or provide feedback on this topic, please contact us.
Alternatively, if you would like to be kept up to date with research and information published about this topic, please request a research profile setup.