Earlier this year, sports marketing was criticized as corporations who took TARP money were slammed for not publicly justifying their return on investment.
The deals that were the most criticized were the naming rights deals like Citi Field and Bank of America’s smaller deal with the New York Yankees. And who could forget Northern Trust for having what those on Capitol Hill said was too big of a party at the PGA Tour event which they title sponsored?
The message was that signage wasn’t a good deal. Fans don’t have relationships with signs. They have relationships with athletes.
But every time something happens to the “perfect” athlete that corporations have spent money on, the risk-reward equation is brought up again. Athletes have a greater risk attached to them, but the reward is greater.
In light of everything that has been reported – right and wrong – about Tiger Woods in the past couple weeks, one sports marketer, who requested anonymity, told me that corporations are now talking more about naming rights and having their brand on rotating signage than asking him which one of his athletes is available.
“If I’m a chief marketing officer for a sports franchise, I can now say, ‘Your sign here won’t embarrass you,” said David Carter, executive director of USC’s Sports Business Institute. “A year ago that might not have been the case. Your phone could have been ringing off the hook from shareholders.”
Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com