Tag Archives: sponsors

Why We Said NO to Sochi

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As many of you may know, Performance Research founders Jed Pearsall and Bill Doyle have been consistently attending & analyzing the on-site activities at Olympic Games for over 30 years.  In fact, Jed’s first Olympic event was “Miracle on Ice”- the legendary USA vs. USSR hockey game held during the 1980 Lake Placid Olympic Winter Games, where Jed’s Mom bought the tickets from a sidewalk scalper for just $25 each. 

Since Lake Placid, Jed has attended 13 out of the last 15 Olympic Games (Winter & Summer), with Doyle attending eight of his own.  This bi-annual pilgrimage has been a mix of business and inspiration, allowing us to provide observations and insights to sponsors worldwide, while also being reminded of how lucky we are to work in such a fascinating industry.

However, starting with the controversial and antagonistic laws against gay rights propaganda passed by the Russian government, we both felt we could not, in clear conscience, attend these Sochi Games.

Now, following weeks of reports of possible terrorism, U.S. Department of State warnings, reports of the near certainty of computer hacking against any and all devices brought into the country, and most recently the U.S. Department of Homeland Security bulletins to airlines warning of the potential threat of explosive materials being contained in toothpaste tubes, we are convinced more than ever that we made the right choice.   

Apparently we are not alone–  just yesterday TMZ reported that AB-InBev is not hosting its traditional “Club Bud” party at the Olympics, suggesting that the threat of terrorism is just too large even for corporate America.

While we are disappointed to not attend the Games, we are proud of our integrity that drove the decision.  And, we will always question the rationale of the IOC (especially when we could have been headed to competing bid city Salzburg, Austria right now instead of staying away from Sochi).  So for this Olympic Winter Games, for the first time in nearly three decades, you will be reading Performance Research updates (now tweets) written from the viewpoint of our couch instead of from the bleachers.

See you in Brazil!

More Links:

http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/06/world/europe/russia-sochi-winter-olympics/

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/02/sochi-visitors-report-hotel-horrors-dangerous-conditions/

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/russia/140203/6-openly-gay-athletes-sochi-olympics-russia

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Sponsor Appreciation!

Check out how people feel about sponsors providing a good time during a tough economy:

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If it’s private, then keep it private

While in Vancouver for the Olympics we came across the “The Bell Ice Cube”, hosted by Canada’s Bell Communication.  This large sponsor area consisted of a traditional activation video room with interactive screens along with another space acting as a lounge.  Now while this activation did serve a purpose and was enjoyed by visitors, unfortunately it did have a major flaw.

The outside of the sponsor area was branded and visible to the public, yet it was private and people were being turned away.  When will sponsors learn that you cannot have a private venue and brand it visible to everyone?  All this leaves you with is a lot of people feeling as if they are not good enough to gain entry!

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Sponsors “Wrap Up” Vancouver

After Canada’s 7-3 victory over Russia last night, it is no surprise that Canadian pride is running at an all time high on the streets of Vancouver.   While it is always good to see a country’s spirit lifted by a great athletic performance, I was curious about how the sponsors were working to do the same.

These picture received today answered my question:

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Situation Worsens for Tiger

Last week we issued the Performance Research opinion as to the Tiger Woods situation.  Since then we have seen new reports that not only increases the number of mistresses linked to the golfer, but also tie him to prescription drug abuse and the possible use of human growth hormones.  While neither drug abuse nor the use of steroids has been confirmed, the implications alone, coupled with his extramarital affairs are making this situation for Tiger and his sponsors far more difficult than originally forecasted.  While the initial accusations could be viewed by the public as a blip in his personal life, the continuance and level of controversy surrounding Woods are now sure to leave a greater impression on his career and legacy.

Woods has already lost one of his primary sponsors, Accenture, and has also had his image dropped from advertisements by sponsors Gillette, Tag Heur and Gatorade.

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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:

http://live.quiksilver.com/2009/edie/live.php?btn_live=_over

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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?

ronald_mcdonald_jumping
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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Engaged at Futbol Fiesta

caughtoureye4If you have ever been to the Futbol Fiesta prior to a Mexican National Soccer Team game then you already know that it offers a party like atmosphere including loud music, games, player appearances, and dozens of other activations presented by the sponsors. If you are a first timer (like I was last month in Dallas when Mexico played Colombia), then you are in for quite the experience. If you like to see passionate fans, engaged by equally ardent sponsors, than look no further!

Like all the events we attend, no matter how many good activations are present (quite a few in this case), there is usually one that really piques our interest. The activation that “Caught Our Eye” this time was presented by Home Depot. The Home Depot had several different booths open to fans, with multiple activities on hand. The particular aspect of their activation which impressed us the most was how they gave fans paint, brushes (items they sell) and large poster boards in order to make signs for the game. Whether you were painting the words “Let’s go Mexico!” or “Colombia Rules!”, you were able to take the sign into the Cotton Bowl for the game, and then bring the poster home with you as a souvenir.

Home Depot 3Not only did Home Depot engage fans by offering them the chance to directly participate with the soccer game, they also encouraged the use of their retail products and sent people home happy with free memorabilia. It seems to make perfect sense why the Home Depot activation was one of the busiest we saw.

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Isn’t it worth saving the Soap Box Derby?

All-American_Soap_Box_Derby_Logo_We all know that the current economic state has affected the way that companies spend their marketing and sponsorship budgets in regards to major sports properties like NASCAR and the PGA. If we take a deeper look, we can also see how the little guy is being affected by corporate budget cuts. One example is the current situation facing the All American Soap Box Derby. Since 1933, the AASBD has been the governing body of American soap box racers. They govern regional events, culminating with a National Championship in Akron, Ohio each July.

Two years ago the AASBD lost their title sponsor and are now struggling to stay afloat as they will incur a financial loss for the second year in a row. With only a few regional sponsors, and a dwindling budget, the organization hopes that some company will come forward with the $250,000 annual title sponsor charge. While the price may seem relatively small compared to the fees charged by larger organizations, the AASBD is constantly reminded about the lack of marketing funds from potential sponsors for the upcoming year So what is the organization supposed to do?

Well it seems as if the AASBD has a plan. This non-for-profit group is taking a new approach in which their value to potential sponsors is highlighted. Right in step with the green movement amongst Corporate America, the group will focus its sponsor pitch on the fact that their sport uses only gravity during competition. Paul Swangard of the University of Oregon recently remarked in USA Today that the AASBD has “been green longer than Al Gore”, and suggests that an alternative energy company may want to sign on at this price.

The fact that the AASBD is presenting themselves off as a green group may be just the type of sales pitch that they need. This, coupled with their non-for-profit classification puts them in a prime spot for companies wanting to benefit from cause marketing. As we have mentioned on this blog previously, cause marketing in the current economy ensures companies remain relevant through sponsorship, while touching a positive place in the hearts of consumers.

Besides the opportunity of a sponsor capitalizing on soap box racing as a non-profit eco-friendly sport, a corporation could also benefit from sponsoring a sport that is considered as American as apple pie. During this period of economic hardship it seems logical to show some national pride by teaming up with an American tradition.

It will be interesting to see which companies rev up this flailing sport, and by which methods of sponsorship they decide to activate. If a sponsor does partner with the AASBD, a strong plan of action will go a long way in benefiting from the relatively inexpensive cost of the title sponsor slot. As our Vice President Bill Doyle stated this past spring, sponsors should go on a “diet”. If done effectively, a $250,000 sponsorship of this worthwhile organization seems like it could match a sponsorship manager’s appetite perfectly.

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