Aussie ISDE Team Sponsorship Quandary
Three months ago, in response to Motorcycling Australia’s (MA) announcement that RecoveR8 – an Australian-made sports supplement – would be the naming-rights sponsor of Australia’s International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) team in Portugal, we questioned the wisdom of a brand being granted naming-rights sponsor for a national sporting team. In fact, we criticized the idea. As that article pointed out, we get the importance of funding to help our national teams (sponsors’ support to assist our representatives perform on the world stage is a fantastic thing), but feel strongly that a commercial brand should not be allowed to, literally, stand in front of the word Australia when it comes to one of our national sporting teams?
Since that PR about the ISDE and RecoveR8, MA announced MXstore as the naming-rights sponsor of Australia’s MX of Nations team. Again, we have no issue with MXstore (the crew from Australia’s largest online motocross parts and accessories store are passionate about the sport and big supporters of events and riders), but should MA not be offering these brands something other than naming rights in return for their investment? Is there not a more creative solution that works for everyone?
Yes. Absolutely, yes. And here’s why. As Australia’s ISDE teams prepare to head over to Portugal next week, several team representatives have understandably dug their heels in when asked to run a RecvoveR8 logo on their jerseys because it conflicts with their own personal sponsorship deals (and surprise, surprise, the offer of an limitless supply of RecoveR8 product for the event didn’t make them any happier). Running the RecoverR8 logo on their jersey would mean they’d be in breach of their contract (with brands such as RynoPower and Koda), which’d likely lead to them losing their sponsorship deal. In other words, for MA to deliver on its title-sponsorship deal with RecoveR8 means simultaneously putting several riders in an untenable position. Even if the riders involved do ‘cave’ and end up running the RecoveR8 jersey logo, rest assured that their personal, conflicting sports supplement sponsor’s stickers will be loud and proud on their helmets. Which, if you’re RecoveR8’s marketing team and/or MA, ain’t a good look.
So, here’s an idea. Instead of offering these brands naming-right sponsorship to Australia’s national teams, offer them something else in return for their investment; something more valuable; something that doesn’t create all-too-predictable conflicts with national team representatives. For example, RecoveR8 branding could be plastered all over a daily three-minute edit about the Aussie team’s plight at the ISDE. Sure, brand the bejesus out of Australian team management and the team’s official photographers. Tag RecoveR8’s social media channels on all posts and PR about the Aussie team. Just don’t take the lazy, looks-good-on-paper title-sponsorship route, which has proved unworkable countless times in the past for national sporting teams. Not to mentioned the fact that national teams should never be up for sale!