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.
The IOC’s vote to award the 2016 Games to Rio was a blow to Chicago’s civic pride, as well as to the plans of many sports marketers, broadcasters and U.S. sponsors who looked forward to a stateside summer Games for the first time in 20 years.
However, the pangs of disappointment were probably most acute at three particular sponsors: Coca-Cola, Visa and McDonald’s—not that our friends at those outstanding marketing organizations will admit that. Those three companies are the only sponsors that are both global Olympic partners as well as high level FIFA World Cup sponsors. (Coke and Visa are two of the six FIFA Partners, the top-tier sponsorship, while McDonald’s is one rung down as a World Cup Sponsor.)
Having just hung up with the latest reporter doing their homework for post-Copenhagen-announcement stories, it occurs to me that I should share with readers of this blog first the ideas that may make it into general media publications later this week.
Most of the interviewers calling IEG are from stateside media wanting to know if Chicago 2016’s sponsorship revenue projections of $1.8 billion are achievable should the IOC award the games to the Windy City.
My response has been that although Chicago faces the largest challenge because it set its sponsorship goals much higher than the other bid cities, whichever contender ends up as the 2016 host (and I do hope it is my city) will have to change the way we think about Olympic Games sponsorship.
Unfortunately the Australian War Memorial provides another cautionary tale for public-private partnerships. According to this story from News.com.au, backlash has arisen over the sponsorship activity in the memorial, including corporate ties to the eternal flame and to the daily closing ceremony. While I applaud the Australian government for its willingness to engage corporate partners, I’m sorry to see it done in such a stale and unimaginative way. Once again a government entity appears to be looking at its appeal purely in terms of eyeballs, essentially equating itself to a football stadium or a mall.
In this case, visibility MUST go hand in hand with a compelling storyline. Let’s consider a more relevant tie-in for the sponsor of the closing ceremony. At the end of each day’s ceremonies, visitors could be asked to fill out a postcard providing a message of thanks to war veterans. The postcards could be filled out and dropped off at sponsor-branded tables. And, if it wants to put a cherry on top, the company could commit to a small donation to the memorial for each postcard submitted (with both a minimum and maximum threshold).
The memorial gets its money. The consumer gets to participate. The company gets the visibility and a meaningful connection to a cause. It’s not super-sophisticated, but it doesn’t have to be to produce results. Any other ideas?
Interesting research from the U.K. commissioned by London agency Target Media: Of 2,000 music festival attendees surveyed, 41 percent had positive feelings toward brands that sponsored such events.
Thirty-nine percent said sponsor ads fit better with the festival experience than ads elsewhere, while only 19 percent said they were annoyed by sponsor ID at festivals. Additionally, 75 percent of attendees said they could recall beer, wine or spirits sponsors at music festivals, with 77 percent believing such adult beverages “work best” as festival sponsors.
British and European sponsors typically do a very good job at activating their presence at music festivals to ensure their brands play a role in enhancing the attendees’ experience, which I am willing to bet plays a large role in the positive feedback to this survey.
With a month to go before the IOC selects the host city for the 2016 Summer Games, Fox Chicago looked at the city’s prospects last night, including a report on potential sponsorship revenue.
Without enough advance warning for a quick change of clothes or to clear off my cluttered desk (our much more glamorous conference room was in use), I sat down with reporter Lilia Chacon. Here’s the result. more
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?
As this article explains, as part of a ₤1 million fundraising effort for a new museum dedicated to Robert Burns, the National Trust for Scotland is auctioning off “sponsorship” of a manuscript of Burns’ Auld Lang Syne. The Trust is hoping to get ₤50,000, which entitles the winning bidder to a plaque at the museum’s display of the original manuscript.
I have to believe that preserving an iconic work of Scotland’s native son could inspire Scots and Burns—lovers to step up with more than ₤50,000, provided they have a vehicle to do so. Perhaps a cause-related marketing campaign could have been that vehicle—not unlike American Express’ 1983 campaign to restore the Statue of Liberty.
The U.K.’s Press Association news service sent out an article yesterday headlined “Stock Markets: Samsung Electronics Riding High on Back of Chelsea Deal.” Reading the piece left me with mixed emotions. I’m always happy to see sponsorship get credit for positive results, however there was not one shred of evidence that last week’s renewal of Samsung’s shirt sponsorship with the Barclays Premier League football club was the reason for the company’s share price rise. In fact, the only factual information provided in the article indicates that the recent gains are part of a trend of the last two months in which Samsung stock has “rocketed.”
Such flimsy reporting and writing infuriates me because it allows critics of sponsorship to point to such articles as proof that measures of sponsorship success are fluff. The good (factual!) news is that there is research that proves major sponsorship announcements do positively influence stock value. Read an IEG Sponsorship Report article on the research here.
The upshot is that Samsung’s Chelsea extension likely helped boost the stock price a few points higher than it otherwise would have risen this week, but an article that misleadingly credits the deal as the primary factor for shares reaching their yearly high doesn’t do anybody, including the sponsorship industry, any favors. more
There’s no getting around it. Without an explanation for a sponsorship, fans will make up their own and often they are negative. Fittingly, Allianz—official risk manager of Formula 1—runs little risk of its sponsorship being misinterpreted. While directly tied to its core lines of business—road safety and risk management—Allianz uses the F1 platform to educate and entertain fans and media so that its sponsorship comes off as a benefit rather than an intrusion. And by having its story live across multiple platforms, Allianz tells the story with various degrees of intimacy, depending on the audience.
For example, F1 fans may read about it in print ads or hear an interview with the driver of the company-sponsored Formula 1 Safety Car. Customers and prospects may hear the story directly from one of the firm’s safety ambassadors or AT&T Williams driver Nico Rosberg, also sponsored by Allianz. Journalists may encounter the story via free race clips and graphics. Even now, when F1 is in the news almost as often for scandals, rules changes and a possible breakaway circuit as it is for racing, Allianz connects the news to its story line. For example, a recent Allianz ad was titled “Prepared for the Unexpected.”
Allianz, which recently renewed its F1 partnerships, is among the many insurance companies adding deals despite the economic downturn. more