Latest Thinking from IEG
IEG’s sponsorship experts provide unique perspective on the latest industry developments, news and trends. These posts will make you think, challenge conventional wisdom, give you new ideas, and spark discussion.
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Sponsorship and the White House Crashers
An interesting item coming out of the White House party crasher story is the couple’s foray into sponsorship in connection with a charity polo event. As this article from The Washington Post points out, the couple staged an international polo match which ended up with dissatisfied attendees, unpaid vendors and charities getting far less than what might have been expected.
I’ll let you read the article, but a couple thoughts that came to mind from the situation
Filed under: cause marketing, contracts, events, nonprofit, backlash
Should Health Cause Marketers Get Involved in Health Care Debates?
Earlier this week a government-funded task force released new guidelines regarding mammography in the diagnosis and prevention of breast cancer. The announcement seemed to stir up everyone connected to the issue of breast cancer: the general public, the healthcare community and—most relevant for you—breast cancer causes.
While the causes came out with their respective positions on the guidelines, I didn’t see anything from the companies who just a couple weeks ago were falling all over each other to promote their support for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. That said, I don’t know that I would want a department store or shoe company telling people how to handle major health decisions without a lot of due diligence to support their views.
Filed under: cause marketing, legislation, backlash
Smart Sponsorship; Questionable Activation
Received a press release yesterday from Pheasants Forever, a nonprofit conservation and hunting-oriented organization, announcing that Miller High Life will again be the official beer of the group, extending a longtime relationship.
MillerCoors will overlay the sponsorship with an on- and off-premise promotion that raises funds for PF. The Miller High Life Rooster Promotion allows adult consumers to purchase paper roosters for either $1 or $5, with “net funds raised” going to local PF chapters to fund wildlife habitat projects.
Filed under: backlash, beer, beverage, cause marketing, nonprofit, activation
Where a Dose of Corporate Social Responsibility Could Come in Handy
Last month, Mattel’s American Girl line of dolls caused quite a stir when they unveiled Gwen, a homeless American Girl doll.
American Girl dolls, as I recently have learned, are high-end dolls with even higher price tags and are all the rage for young girls. The Gwen doll in question carries a $95 sticker price.
The Gwen doll certainly helps raise awareness in young children about the plight of the homeless. But despite the doll’s focus on homelessness, no proceeds from the sale of the Gwen doll went to benefit homeless causes.
Filed under: cause marketing, nonprofit, backlash
When a Sponsor Pulls Out, Who Should Take the Blame?
Even those who don’t follow sports regularly might have heard about the plight of Caster Semenya, the South African track star whose ambiguous gender created a major controversy at this year’s world championships. In the fallout, Athletics South Africa (ASA) bore much of the blame for its bungling of the matter. So it wasn’t surprising when financial services company Nedbank announced it was terminating its five-year sponsorship of ASA’s road running event series. Though the bank has pointed to the declining quality of the events as the primary reason, the Semenya debacle seems to have played at least some role in accelerating the decision.
The reaction in South Africa has been surprising. I would have expected such news to spawn additional criticism of ASA and its leadership. Instead Julius Malema, leader of the youth wing of the African National Congress, called for a boycott of Nedbank. Malema contends that Nedbank is shirking its responsibility to support the South African community and points to this as an example of—in his view—Nedbank’s history of racist policies and practices.
Filed under: international, sports, backlash
Analyzing Jersey Sponsorships
Tough times call for drastic measures. Unquestionably the tough economy has led pro sports leagues and teams to make difficult decisions regarding both their brand and their bottom line. Although the practice was once uniformly (no pun intended) considered taboo stateside, the NBA and NFL have carved out an additional revenue opportunity for their teams by allowing them to sell sponsorship to their practice jerseys.
In one recent week, the NBA’s New Jersey Nets and Phoenix Suns, as well as the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks, signed deals providing sponsors the rights to their practice jerseys and coaches’ apparel.
Although these deals have created quite a buzz in the sports business world, I question what relevance (past the initial media coverage/shock value) these sponsorships will have with sports fans and consumers.
Filed under: backlash, packaging, pro sports, selling, sports, assets
The Importance of an Integrated Sponsorship Selection Strategy
I’ve said in this space before that sponsors can’t be all things to all people—particularly when it comes to hot-button political issues. But this story about Verizon Wireless left me shaking my head.
The long and short of it is that a local Verizon Wireless office has paid $1,000 for the opportunity to sell phones at the Friends of America Rally in West Virginia. The event appears designed to promote the coal industry and to stir opposition against current environmental measures making their way through Congress.
Verizon Wireless is taking a beating for its involvement—which doesn’t represent an endorsement of the event’s message, but still doesn’t look good for a company that touts its green credentials.
Filed under: events, guidelines, local, backlash
Banning Alcohol Sponsorship
The Australian federal government’s Preventative Health Strategy task force has recommended banning alcohol sponsorship as one method to deter people from drinking and perhaps becoming a burden on the public health system.
Whenever the subject of curbing the marketing of “sin products”—or raising their prices through taxes—comes up, I must admit that my libertarian side—as well as my drinking side—wants to shout, “If it’s a legal product, then why make the marketing of it illegal?” However, I understand the need for regulation of products that carry potential dangers.
The issue is where do we draw the line? No marketing of alcohol to kids? Of course. But prohibiting sponsorship of sports and other properties while allowing other adult-oriented advertising and marketing? Why? The argument that sports sponsorship implies an endorsement of alcohol as healthy is nonsense. Let’s give all but the weakest-minded consumers some credit, shall we?
Filed under: beer, beverage, international, sports, backlash
The Challenge of Sponsorship and Social Responsibility
You might think it strange for a restaurant chain to sponsor a movie like Food, Inc.—a decidedly unappetizing look at agribusiness and factory farms. However, the partnership is a natural for burrito-maker Chipotle, which actively promotes a philosophy of Food With Integrity. The company, in conjunction with the film’s distributor, is sponsoring a series of free film screenings around the U.S. and has promoted the movie in its communications.
Unfortunately the sponsorship has not been so well-received by activists seeking higher pay for farm workers employed by Chipotle’s Florida tomato suppliers. Activists have been showing up at screenings chiding Chipotle and handing out copies of a letter criticizing the chain. The letter is signed by none other than the film’s director and co-producer (who were not involved in securing the sponsorship).
Filed under: backlash
Drowning Sorrows: More Bad News for Sponsorship
As I noted in my last post, because sponsorship is so much more visible than all other media, it is highly vulnerable to attack. Scottish politicians are having a field day tying the tragic closing of the Johnnie Walker bottling plant in Kilmarnock with the brand’s sponsorship of Formula One’s McLaren Mercedes team. The logic: F1 has fueled Johnnie Walker’s growth globally, rendering its home market insignificant and enabling Diageo to close the plant—along with a Glasgow distillery.
On the one hand U.S. officials say sponsorship is a waste of money and should be off-limits to recipients of TARP funds, while across the pond officials are asserting that sponsorship is so successful brands can ignore current customers in local markets and instead focus entirely on new markets abroad.
"£15 million of sponsorship sees the Johnnie Walker brand go from its origins in Kilmarnock to be drunk around the world," said Kilmarnock MSP Willie Coffey. On the eve of the German Grand Prix, he urged motorsports fans to sign an online petition to save the Johnnie Walker plant. “This weekend as Johnnie Walker is advertised to the world, it's the turn of Formula One fans to show their support."
Filed under: beverage, sponsorship ROI, backlash