Thursday, February 26, 2009
Sports sponsorship takes a further pounding
First there was the Michael Phelps “Bong-gate” saga. Then A-Rod’s steroid drama and now there’s the crisis surrounding Texan billionaire Allen Stanford. Why can’t the sports sponsorship industry take a trick at the moment?
So far 2009 hasn’t been kind to the world of sports endorsements.
Firstly the impact of the recession has meant brands are cutting back on their expensive sports partnerships, which is a global trend that has hit everything from F1 to the English Premier League, golf, cricket and tennis.
And then came the News of the World’s Phelps scoop, which was a wake-up call to many brands. Then one of the world’s most famous baseballers Alex Rodriguez admits taking steroids, news that can’t be good for his partners Nike and Activision. Another sports star to hit the limelight recently has been the NBA’s Dwayne Wade, who is going through a messy divorce and has been accused of allegedly doing drugs and holding orgies. But his sponsors are sticking by him.
And then there’s sports very own version of Bernie Madoff, Allen Stanford, who’s financial transgressions are having a big impact on English and West Indian cricket, several tournaments he sponsors and the likes of football’s Michael Owen and golf’s Vijay Singh.
Where has it all gone wrong?
Sports stars mucking up is not a new trend, it's as old as the hills. It will always happen and it's are one of the inherent risks marketers should be aware of when endorsing any sports brand. But this bad run coupled with the dire reality of the economic crisis is a double whammy for the sports sponsorship industry. It needs it now like it needs a hole in the head.
When iconic sports stars and blue-chip brands like Tiger Woods and LeBrone James are losing sponsors, simply because companies are cutting their sponsorship budgets and through no fault of their own, you know your in trouble.