Some people believe that negative publicity is
still fair publicity because it brings attention to a brand, but this is a
sarcastic axiom that should never be taken literally. A sponsorship deal is a
leap of faith; in essence, brands trust that the entities or individuals they
sponsor will project a wholesome image for consumers. There is no crystal ball
that can determine the fate of a sponsorship, but marketing professionals often
evaluate details of previous agreements to learn about what went right and potentially
prevent what went wrong.
Let’s look at four sponsorship situations that
brands and marketers can learn from; the first two ended up in disaster, but
the last two have been very positive.
and the 2012 London Olympics
The world’s most prominent fast-food brand
miscalculated its branding strategy during the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in
London. Even though McDonald’s was no stranger to sponsoring the Olympics, its branding was too ambitious and aggressive
in 2012. Opening a massive restaurant with a seating capacity of 1,500 in the
middle of the Olympic Village was not enough; McDonald’s went too far when it
took advantage of the nascent social media boom to show athletes ordering
dozens of burgers, French fries, milkshakes and carbonated drinks, thus
prompting a major public backlash. To make matters worse, McDonald’s mascot
characters were spotted handing out chocolates and assorted junk food to
children who attended Olympic events.
and Kate Moss
In 2005, British supermodel Kate
Moss was photographed consuming controlled substances at a
nightclub, and the images were promptly published on a tabloid newspaper.
Fashion brands such as Burberry were quick to distance themselves from Moss,
but Chanel opted to wait a few weeks until her contract expired. The problem
here is that public relations experts explained the lingering issue of
speciousness. On one hand, these brands were probably familiar with Moss’
lifestyle; on the other hand, they waited until paparazzi snapped photos to
withdraw sponsorship agreements, and Chanel even went as far as letting the
clock run out instead of taking immediate action.
and the Washington Spirit
This sponsorship example speaks volumes about
excellent timing. Car subscription service inride, which serves the Maryland,
Northern Virginia and District of Columbia metropolitan area, signed a
sponsorship deal with the Washington Spirit of the National Women’s Soccer
League just weeks after the United States National Team won the 2019 FIFA
Women’s World Cup in France.
and Timothy Goodman
In 2016, graphic artist Tim Goodman made a
trip across the U.S. armed with a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphone and the
“S Pen” digital stylus. In every stop along the way, Goodman drew
sketches right on the Note 7, which were promptly shared on social networks and
showcased at some art galleries. Samsung covered all the expenses of the
charismatic artist’s American tour, and he obliged by showing consumers that
sketching on a smartphone can be an artistic endeavor as long as you have the