OPINION: BAINSFAIR ON ... SPORTS SPONSORSHIP

By PAUL BAINSFAIR, the chairman of the TBW, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 28 July 2000 12:00AM

Marc Dumortier appeared in this spot last week to argue that consistency and commitment were the key to effective sports sponsorship. If this kind of long-term, dogged branding can associate MasterCard with football, then you have to believe anything is possible.

Marc Dumortier appeared in this spot last week to argue that

consistency and commitment were the key to effective sports sponsorship.

If this kind of long-term, dogged branding can associate MasterCard with

football, then you have to believe anything is possible.



I’m here to remind you, though, about an old adage involving good money,

bad money and throwing. There have been plenty of examples, even since

Euro 2000, of sports sponsorship that has been a waste of cash.



On The Big Breakfast two weeks ago, the presenter was doing the fashion

spot. ’There’s a new sports brand out there which could in time

challenge the likes of Nike and Adidas,’ he said. He produced a crisp

white jacket and almost reverentially revealed the red logo on the

breast pocket.



It read ’Happy Shopper’.



He had got his hands on the umpires’ jackets that have been worn

throughout this summer’s Test series against the West Indies. He was

taking the piss and, to my mind, he was making a very good point.



The fact is, sponsoring sport or sportsmen and women can create

awareness for a brand. It can even do it quicker than MasterCard’s

long-term strategy with football, but it requires thought and planning

just like any other aspect of the marketing mix. Time and time again

though, able marketing people seem to lose the plot when it comes to

sport.



Examples of getting it wrong or wasting money are easy to spot. As the

British tennis team slumped to defeat against mighty Ecuador last

weekend, the line judges were decked out in sweatshirts with a big Hugo

Boss logo across their chests. You can see the thinking behind

connecting Boss to tennis, but dressing the line judges? Hasn’t anyone

ever seen what the average Wimbledon line judge looks like?



It didn’t stop there. Greg Rusedski had a tiny logo on his sleeve which,

if you concentrated really hard, you could pick out ’Freeserve’. I

struggled to work out what this small logo for an internet service

provider was doing on his shirt, then I think I got it. Rusedski is the

fastest server in the world, therefore Freeserve is ... of course, how

obvious. I don’t know how much Freeserve paid for this teeny piece of

branding, but it was probably too much.



The key thing is not to fire and forget. Sponsorship needs to be a fully

paid-up part of the total behaviour of a brand. It’s not enough to be

associated with something. You need an idea and a bit of old-fashioned

creativity.



There is an idea in the fastest serve in tennis and an ISP but it needs

to be made to come alive in a compelling way. For instance, last

Saturday night Lennox Lewis pulverised Frans Botha. If Sony PlayStation

had been involved, they could have branded it as: ’Do not underestimate

the power of Lennox Lewis.’ When French Connection sponsored Lewis in

his two fights with Evander Holyfield, they were able to take the

attitude and spirit of the brand into the arena with FCUK FEAR.



Getting back to Happy Shopper, we have to give it full marks for

incongruity but where’s the idea? When was Dickie Bird ever happy? It’s

the umpire’s job to be grumpy. Now if the brand was ’Grumpy

Shopper’ ...



Have your say at www.campaignlive.com on channel 4.



This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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