When sports franchise executives convene in virtual boardrooms to discuss corporate sponsorship packages, the conventional dialogue revolves around quantity, not quality. Large-market franchises are inundated with requests for sponsorships, but they fail to satisfy clients.
When sports franchise executives convene in virtual boardrooms to
discuss corporate sponsorship packages, the conventional dialogue
revolves around quantity, not quality. Large-market franchises are
inundated with requests for sponsorships, but they fail to satisfy
While executives fail to give sponsors the biggest bang for their buck,
corporate constituencies grow tired of diminishing returns. These
incipient rifts in the franchise-sponsor relationship reflect a
condition of frenzy-feeding in a depleted reservoir. Simply put, there
are too many corporate sponsors in each team’s Rolodex.
As more sponsors become disillusioned with their affiliations in sports,
franchises are eroding their economic base through a blatant disregard
for brand equity. Sadly, an emerging trend within front offices suggests
that owners equate corporate relations with collecting fees.
Indeed, there is more to this relationship than short-term financial
incentives. These ventures set precedence for an image that both the
franchise and its sponsors are trying to portray. Sponsorships, properly
positioned, can create immense value for both parties.
The crux of this problem is the team executives’ unwillingness to
understand the need for fewer clients, with more attention paid to
Although this notion may bring to mind the quixotic Jerry Maguire, there
is a critical issue at stake: most franchises lack the structural
capacity to sustain multi-client satisfaction in the long run.
Franchise owners, by not equipping their front offices with ample
capacity, face an uphill battle in pleasing sponsors with a rewarding
return on investment. Most corporate benefactors are skeptical when
entering the first year of a contract and lukewarm when reaching closure
of it. Yet, corporate wealth continues to soak the sports entertainment
industry with exorbitant prowess. If there is any explanation to this
paradox, it is that owners manage their franchises disproportionately to
comparable business operations. Corporate sponsors feel perplexed and
short-changed while owners remain heedless and indifferent.
There is a reason why companies such as Coca-Cola, Visa and Eastman
Kodak have reevaluated their presence in the sports community. They are
sending a message to owners: ’You need us more than we need you.’
If owners don’t heed this warning, then they will have ambushed their
own bargaining power. But if they are willing to cultivate higher
quality in their sponsorships, they can keep the upper hand. But it all
appears contingent on the macroeconomic decisions made in those virtual
Michael Wissot is a business and political consultant in Southern