Updated: May 16, 2018
Brand loyalty, trust, respect and reputation are elements, not always visible, but probably the most important variables for any brand without a doubt. Especially with regards to the equity and market values consideration are concerned. The reputation of a brand is it currency to trade, engage and converse with its stakeholders as its key differentiator. More emphasis is placed on reputation management as a result of globalisation and access to these brands, but more so due to the most recent corporate governance scandals as witnessed.
The Australian Cricket players were the latest sporting team to not only dominate the headlines, but demonstrated how unethical behaviour can impact negatively on more than a sport, but a nation, a sporting body, families and the sponsors who invest their #marketing budgets for association, awareness and resonance with consumers linked to cricket and other. The year started off with another damming report on doping by a cyclist and his quest to be the best with the help of performance enhancements supplements as widely reported. Yet sponsorship of cycling is continuing despite all the doping transgressions over the years.
A $20 million sponsorship cancellation announcement is just one of the many challenges that Cricket Australia will be facing over the next few months. Magellan Financial Group announced the termination of their partnership with the cricketing body on 29 March 2018, as a result of the ball tempering scandal of their touring team in South Africa currently it’s now a question of when and not whether other sponsors will follow their decision.
As a sponsor how do you face your stakeholders knowing that your association with a sporting code, team or individual is no longer speculation but factual by means of apologies and acknowledgements that such un-sportsmanship behaviour played itself out in front of millions of viewers and sports lovers with overwhelming repulsion?
Sponsorship 101 explores and advises practitioners to rather stay away or avoid the possible individual sponsorship considerations. The list of disastrous individual brand endorsements, is too long to single out one particular individual rather three sporting codes with occurrences; golf, athletics and cycling comes to mind, but not only restricted to them. Despite this, brands still venture into the endorsement space to help boost the appeal, association and likeability status for their brands. Social Media is now leading the trend with influencers and endorses who are paid serious money to mention brands, to like their posts, comment on them and to share with the followers of these influencers.
One of the most indicative qualities of humans is their unpredictability. It takes only one questionable action by an individual to tarnish their reputation and ultimately the brands associated with the person in question. But this is not enough to deter brands for entering this risky territory for that once in a life time opportunity to secure the sign-on and endorsement by an individual to help push their brand objectives. If your brand is not able to hold its own without endorsements than you should review your strategy, not look for quick fixes. Legacy brands outlives people and trends, instead they stay true to their essence, differentiator and market position due to sound fundamentals, policies, principles and strategic approach without compromise. Brand equity and coolness cannot be used interchangeably in the same sentence.
More investments and sponsorship are needed in developmental programmes of sporting codes for the youth as more than a CSR consideration but for the advancements of societies as a moral decision. Sustainability, collaboration and positive change must be integral to these programmes to ensure longevity and impact. Grass roots involvement is an area where greater investments are required and supported by programmes aimed to shape and mould youngsters on the importance of ownership, responsible behaviour and values driven decisions to avoid the moral decay of our societies.
Let’s invest Today for a better future for the leaders of Tomorrow!