It started with Barney Frank ripping Northern Trust for their lavish parties at their sponsored PGA Tour event in February. It resulted in companies creating policies on attendance at ballparks in luxury boxes and stipulations on the type of food that can be ordered. Others cut off deals that might have worked for fear that publicity associated with their place in sports wasn’t right for the times.
But for those who waited out the storm, everything seems to be calm again. There have been 22 games at Citi Field and absolutely no one is questioning Citi’s 20-year, $400 million naming rights investment anymore. People are just talking about the quality of the food and the pitching.
And right now, Manchester United is facing FC Barcelona in the Champions League finals and there’s little chatter about how AIG - which took a US government bailout of $150 billion - is still plastered all over all the ManU jerseys.
ManU owner Malcolm Glazer apparently is not at all embarrassed with the AIG association and managed to hold off the early pressure in the name of the $20 million or so that’s still owed to him by the insurer.
So what do we learn from this period?
For the organizations that were the recipients of such sponsorships, stick to your contract. No matter what anyone says you won’t get any brownie points for undoing a deal in the name of the taxpayers.
As for the companies doing the sponsoring? As long as the deals you do are good business, continue to do them despite any amount of public pressure.
During this time, some marketers wrongly busted up deals because of the very public nature of a sports sponsorship. If it worked before, shame on them. If it didn’t, as was the case with many of these deals, the downturn was good for the business. It caused their company to face the realities of the necessary return on investment they need to have to make sports sponsorships work.
Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com