Tag Archives: corporate

Cuba: Opportunity in the Midst of Challenges

When it comes to sponsorship, Cuban athletes as well as other aspects of the sports industry, could benefit from the recent renewed ties with the US and the talk of lifting the US trade embargo.

When it comes to sponsorship, Cuban athletes could benefit from the recent renewed ties with the US and the talk of lifting the US trade embargo.

Just three months ago, President Obama’s announcement that the US and Cuba plan to restore diplomatic relations has created a unique opportunity for US businesses, in particular event and sports sponsorship.  Major brands like AMEX, Nike, and Coca-Cola are waiting anxiously on the side lines to take advantage of opportunities as soon as the US trade embargo is lifted. This will not happen immediately or promise to be an easy transition, but offers prospects to change Cuba’s sporting industry.

All professional sports in Cuba were banned in 1962 and with the US trade embargo in place, US Companies have been forbidden from capitalizing on sponsoring all sporting events, Cuban athletes and facilities. Instead of advertising billboards surrounding the ballparks, portraits and slogans of Castro dominate the fields. No sodas or alcohol have been available at sporting events, and local food options have been scarce. Equipment is outdated and falling apart. Athletes keep a meager 20% of their salaries with the government pocketing 80%. Admission to games is free or for a nominal fee – Cubans come to simply enjoy the game.

“Sport is the victim of limitations of the embargo,” said Tomás Herrera Martínez, the director of international relations for Cuba’s sports ministry and a bronze medalist in basketball at the 1972 Munich Olympics. “Sport is one of the main rights of the people, but sometimes there have not been enough resources.”

For a country where sponsorship has been non-existent for the past 50 years, huge benefits exist for all those looking to get involved in Cuba’s sports and events market.  Infrastructure improvements and resource availability for hosting events will become possible. For example, if a financial service like AMEX sponsored the Cuban national baseball team, they could have the opportunity to bring banking basics to a large portion of the country through an in-person experiential form of marketing. IT companies could provide sponsorship and provide access to internet services, a foreign concept to most Cubans as less than 5% of the population has internet access.  Sporting events will help stimulate the economy and provide more jobs for Cubans. This could start as early as 2016 with a few Major League Baseball teams interested in an exhibition game during spring training.

Companies in the food and beverage industry will look to provide sponsorship and make their brands available at all sporting events too. Huge opportunities exist for sports merchandise as well as concessions at the stadiums. Coca-Cola, for example, is anxious to enter one of its last untouched markets. Like Cuba, Coke was banned in Myanmar for many years, and recently obtained its license to operate by creating value for the overall Myanmar economy.  It’s likely that Cuba’s new investors will look to Coca-Cola for guidance on entering a new market with due diligence and responsible business conduct.

Sponsorships could also provide important resources for the athletes, such as updated equipment, proper nutrition, and fair compensation. Just recently it was announced that Cuba’s Athletics Federation is now allowing athletes’ autonomy over sponsorships. The federation’s choice of brand for all athletes, regardless of their preference, has been German owned adidas until 2 years ago when track athletes started wearing Nike. This change has opened a door for US companies to sponsor Cuban athletes and increase their brand awareness in this emerging market. Nike is on the forefront of this change but Under Armor is looking for the next window of opportunity as these sponsorships spread to Cuba’s other most popular sports, baseball and boxing.

Despite doubts and obvious challenges with the Cuban government, economy, and infrastructure, this will be the new journey in sports and event sponsorship for US businesses.  Prospects will just have to be patient.

photo credit: Cuba Havana via photopin (license)
photo credit: Paralympics 2012 – 35 via photopin (license)

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Make Sure Your Street Team is Working For You!

This past weekend I took a quick trip down to NYC to visit some old friends and take care of some holiday shopping.  Of course, despite the tugs from my girfriend, I could not help but stop and analyze what some companies were up to as far as sponsorship and activation.

One of the moments that really pushed me to take out the camera and notepad was upon seeing a Metro PCS promotion in the Soho neighborhood of Manhattan.  There was a woman dressed up in a purple Metro PCS outfit, standing on a corner outside a subway stop.  Now this seems like a perfect opportunity to shout your message, right? Too bad it wasn’t working out as planned.

Even though that particular corner wasn’t the busiest citywide, the real problem was the lack of enthusiasm from the employee.  The hired worker basically just stood there, not going up to anyone and looking totally non commited to her role.  As we pointed out a few weeks ago in discussing the Charmin pop up in Times Square, with its outstanding engagement approach, peoples attitudes are the KEY to on street promotions.  If you smile and interact with everyone that passes by, you have a much higher success rate than just standing there (Duh!).

Another two potential customers walk by, unengaged.

Now that we establshed that the Metro PCS promotional worker should have been more effective,  lets take a look at who else was responsible for this quiet city corner.

While we are not sure whether this particular promotion was a result of a local store or the national headquarters, we are sure that a person in charge should make sure that everything is working!  From a corporate perspective, if they are providing a promotional budget for a local store to hire this girl, shouldn’t they make sure the local store knows how to run the event properly?  And from the other side, if corporate is running the promo, shouldn’t they have someone from within operating hands on when training the staff and picking a location?  Either way, choosing and managing proper staff would do worlds to make this promotion more effective.

Hopefully in the future, Metro PCS and other companies with good ideas should take it a step further to make sure their plans are carried out with the same energy that was used in the creation process.

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The SponsorEye – The Performance Research take on Tiger Woods

While tumultuous times no doubt lay ahead in Tiger Woods’ personal life, some of his sponsorship agreements may have also hit rocky times.

We speculate that with endemic sponsors like Gatorade, Nike and Golf Digest his status is likely to remain. He still represents the best there is in the sport, and for this reason they will hold on to him.  Of course we do suspect that TV and Print ads will come to a halt as companies try to dim the spotlight on Tiger until this story blows over.

As far as non-endemic companies like Accenture, AT&T and Gillette, we suspect that some of these sponsorships will be reconsidered or pulled as their association with Tiger is on a higher level.  These companies associate themselves with Tiger as a professional with a solid personality and place in society.  With all the personal issues in his  life that have been revealed over the past week it puts these sponsors in a tough spot, as so much of their relationship is reliant on him being a positive force outside the realm of golf players.  If any companies do pull out all the way, we suspect it will be one of these.

Look for things to shake out over the next week, then the media backlash will start to slow down as publc interest quells.  Even with the possibility of losing sponsors looming, make no mistakes, Tiger and his accomplishments do outweigh this current scandal.


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“Sponsor our event, but you might have to wait five years”

Yesterday marked the 25th Anniversary of the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau Big Wave Surfing Event at Waimea Bay on the North Shore of Oahu in Hawaii. The event featured an elite group of surfers invited to compete in 25-40 ft. surf while a crowd of thousands watched from the sand, along with millions watching live on television and the web. Along with the surf and sun, Quiksilver is able to generate a tremendous amount of media coverage and ad space by presenting this specialty event.

Seems like a perfect scenario, right? Well, here’s the kicker. Although the event has been around 25 years, it has only actually run eight times. The contest is put on call every winter and will only run if perfect conditions align. As contest director George Downing famously stated, “the Bay calls the day”, making for years of waiting and close calls. From a sponsorship point of view, I wonder how difficult this makes it for organizers and corporate sponsors, having to be ready with a solid program at all times four months out of the year. Of course this must be tough logistically, but is it not also tough to keep past sponsors and gain new ones without any guarantee that the event will happen?

However the other, potentially beneficial, side of this “problem” is that the long waiting period adds a different value to the event. Although sponsors may not receive billing every year, they are aligning themselves with one of the most mystical and prestigious surf events in the world. Understandably the wait and anticipation creates a serious buzz amongst the demographic set that a sponsor would want to reach. This anticipation and level of viewership might be dulled if the contest were to run every winter season.

Understanding that the event could go years with out running, yet has all the power and stigma of any other professional surfing event, do you think sponsors come flocking or are more apt to hold back?

For more info on this event check out:


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Charmin Activates the Restroom

During our trip to NY last week we found the time to check out what some companies were up to in light of the holiday season. Our search led us to Times Square where we located the Charmin “Enjoy the Go” Pop Up on Broadway. The general idea behind the toilet paper brands space was to offer clean restrooms to the millions that flock to Times Square this time every year. This ground breaking service has been offered for the past four years and appears to be a great success.

While the main feature of the Pop Up is to provide the public with restrooms, the highlight of the area was the crew of employees that truly activated the venue. Starting with a team on the street, the Charmin brand ambassadors invited people inside with clear and energetic actions. Once you entered the building, the positive energy did not fade amongst any of the crew that led you to the restrooms, the facebook/twitter stations (where you can talk about your “go”) and even when they were taking your photo on atop the giant “throne”.

It was great to see such enthusiasm amongst a team of employees while present at a branded space. It’s also great to see how Charmin can change something as dull and monotonous as using the restroom into something exciting that people want to be a part of. Thanks for keeping us engaged!

Make sure to check out the photos below and for more info about “Enjoy the Go” check out http://tinyurl.com/ygmx5yb

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Filed under Caught Our Eye, General

Gambling with their future?

Recent legislation attempts in Poland may begin to have a negative effect on sports sponsorship in that country. Polish lawmakers have proposed a ban of online gambling and bookkeeping, which would allow only brick and mortar casinos to carry on. This news coming at a time of economic turmoil around the world could prove devastating to the sports industry in Poland. Currently over 50 million zloties (roughly $18 million) are pumped into Polish sports each year, with soccer teams like Wisla Krakow and Lech Poznan relying heavily on gambling sponsors like Bet-at-Home and BetClick.

With this legislation on the table, sporting teams in Poland are running a risk by having reliance on these companies. Along with a ban on gambling will come a ban on any gambling related marketing and advertising, including sponsorships. This would leave teams without funding for their programs, and ultimately scrambling for cash.

In light of this situation, it will be interesting to see what plans these properties have for their future. Certainly one would believe that in moving forward they would take a more cautious approach when accepting sponsors, keeping a close eye on potential legal troubles. Also, when dealing with gambling and other companies that birth moral questioning, should these properties also be concerned with how they are perceived by the public? In the coming year we’ll keep a close eye on how this pending situation takes place.


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Football and French Fries?

McDonald’s recently signed on as an official primary sponsor of the Football Association of Thailand (soccer), in a deal valued just below $1,000,000. including cash for equipment, uniforms and travel. The total value also included meals from the quick service chain for the athletes. Now, it’s no surprise to see McDonald’s sponsoring sports, as they have long been a supporter of sports and athletes around the world. What spurred me to write this post was their continued inclusion of in-kind goods as part of the sponsorship.

Ever since 1968 when McDonald’s had hamburgers airlifted to France for homesick U.S. Olympic athletes, the idea of providing meals as part of their sponsorship has been an integral part of their plan. This plan has taken action in many ways, from providing meal vouchers to youth leagues around the world, all the way to building a custom McDonald’s in Beijing solely for the 2008 Olympic athletes.

While these sponsorships have been in place, so has a similar menu, known best for burgers and fries. At times people have questioned McDonald’s value as an athlete food source due to this fact. However, now providing more nutritious options for their customers and athletes alike, perhaps their sports sponsorships will make more sense in the eyes of fans around the globe.

Based on what you know about McDonald’s, let me ask you all a question:

Is the fact that their sports sponsorship program gives meals to athletes more beneficial now that they take a stronger stance on social responsibilty via healthier menu choices?

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