Sports Biz with Darren Rovell

No Name Tourneys: A Sports Marketing Embarrassment

Quail Hollow Championships

Tomorrow, in Charlotte, the Quail Hollow Championship will tee off. It was once called the Wachovia Championship, but because of public pressure put on banks receiving TARP money to cut extraneous expenses, the bank’s owner, Wells Fargo, decided it was easier to just generically name the tournament after the club where the event is played.

When those on Capitol Hill, including Barney Frank, were in the midst of their sports marketing witch hunt on the heels of the Northern Trust parties, it was easy to bow out. But, months later, few have spoken up for the benefits of sponsoring these events. And that’s a really bad sign for the future of sports marketing.

If hosting people at golf tournaments legitimately works and it makes sense to business, then I, as a taxpayer, want to see banks continue to have their names on tournaments and continue to do what they do in hospitality tents.

If renting out luxury suites at baseball games really works, I want to see Citi execs in their luxury suites at Citi Field for Mets games, not donating them to charity.

If putting your name on a tournament can generate profits, then why is Morgan Stanley, like Wachovia/Wells Fargo, taking its name off the Memorial?

Isn’t it worse to pay for it and get nothing out of it?

Why can’t executives answer public pressure with stats that will convince taxpayers and politicians that continuing to use this type of marketing is good business?

The answer might not be what the PGA Tour and other sports leagues want to hear. That is, that the money that these companies were spending often did not justify a return on investment. And that the no name tournaments, propped up by scared companies, are just a step away from having to eliminate some of the tournaments themselves.

Questions?  Comments?