Issue 25
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Termination: Being A Good Sport

Being A Good Sport.


20 November 2013

Text:/ Graeme Hague

Sports sponsorship is a bit of a risky thing to do when the product behind the sponsoring has little, if anything, to do with the sport. There should always be some kind of relevance, right? A connection with your target audience. For example, talking of targets, when Tiger Woods’ wife pursued her unfaithful husband around their suburb in the middle of the night, intent on bashing his skull in with a five iron, you’d definitely be interested in the type of running shoes she wore, yes? Plainly she lacked speed on the grass surfaces. Her choice of golf club might warrant examination too. Did she really want to whack him with that much loft? Relevance, see? Very important in sponsorship.

A little while ago we were told via a very excited electronic missive that the Italian luminaire manufacturer Clay Paky has gotten more heavily involved in the country’s 250cc Moto3 competition, sponsoring the development of the latest Rumi-Sport Engineering motorbike and thus earning the right to plaster the Clay Paky brand name all over the team’s lawnmower – sorry, motorcycle. 

So now imagine your standard, cheering mob of Italian motor racing enthusiasts watching this machine whiz past at 4000 miles per hour every few minutes… if they even see, let alone read, “Clay Paky” painted on the side are they next going to think: “Hmm, I must buy one of them for my motorbike – whatever the hell it is.”


It’s not easy. Good sponsorship on a popular medium can demand a lot of money. It can cost the equivalent of Italy’s entire GNP just to have something emblazoned on Roger Federer’s left sock – and that’s on the smelly bit hidden by his shoe. If you think sports sponsorship is the way to go, plainly the challenge is finding cost-effective exposure in a sport that resonates with your product and client-base – then hope for some kind of tragic or comic event that will get you on the telly. After all, it doesn’t take much for television panel shows and current affairs programs to consider something funny these days.

The recent Ashes test series has opened up some fantastic prospects. I wasn’t taking much notice of the games – seeing the score line I thought I’d stumbled across the English Premier League until someone pointed out it was Australia’s batting average – but I’ve got the gist that no one wants anything to do with the Australian cricket team right now and it’s going cheap. Sponsorship-wise, you’d be working with a blank canvas, so to speak. One thing I have noticed is that modern cricket is chockers with high-tech audio visual equipment. There’s the Snick-o-Meter, the Hot-Spot…ah, o-meter thing, Slo-Mo StumpCam… this is all serious AV gear. Can you see the slogan? “This Review decision was proudly made possible by Such-and-Such Electronics and So-and-So Audio”. That’s heavy-duty product exposure right there. A golden opportunity. Customers would flock to their nearest electronic goods store to purchase the same equipment – or perhaps throw a brick through the window. Hey, it’s all good brand recognition.


Mountain climbing. Another much-underrated sport that should attract more sponsorship and the AV industry is missing the chance. The secret is that mountain climbing, unlike Clay Paky’s ultra-fast four-stroke billboard, happens so s-l-o-w-l-y. You get plenty of time to read all the stuff written on the climbers’ clothing – unless they happen to let go of the mountain and plummet thousands of metres to their death, during which the action does speed up a bit. Otherwise mountaineers can cling terror-stricken to the same rock for hours. You could just about have the complete tech specs for the latest HD short-throw projector written across their backs and people will have time to read it. And they use a lot of AV gear, too. Cameras and microphones, communications networks, personal GPS units and EPIRBs for recovering them, if they inadvertently pop down an unexpected crevice. Possible product endorsements abound in the mountain climbing business. 


Admit it, your childhood push-bike accidents no longer rate a mention after watching the Tour de France. When those guys have a crash the race abruptly resembles an enormous Meccano set shoved though a blender with some arms and legs sticking out. With a very slim association to AV equipment Radio Shack has a racing team, but if it’s anything like the batteries that Tandy flogs they’ll never make it to the first corner. The door is open for a proper AV company that specialises in facial recognition software and hardware to sponsor the Tour de France and help identify which bits of bicycle belong to who after those spectacular prangs. And locate the dog responsible. 

So come on, if you’re going to sponsor any sport at all, make sure it has vaguely something to do with your products. If you don’t, those poor punters on the side of the race track, the side of the mountain and the side of the French provincial roads won’t have a clue what you’re on about.

Unless it’s AFL football. That’s different. If you sponsor the footy I don’t care what you sell, make, distribute, export or import – I’ll have four tickets to the Grand Final, please.


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Issue 25