Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Naming Rights and Wrongs

Historically, corporate naming rights was a concept that appeared back in 1972 when Rich Products Corporation acquired naming rights for Buffalo’s new NFL stadium for a dozen space heaters, two snowblowers, and $1.5 million. Since then, corporate sponsorship of sports and concert venues, golf tournaments, college football bowl games, anything NASCAR, badminton events, frat parties, and horse races – particularly the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands and the Friday Night Cuervo Gold Margarita Madness Mile - are widespread.

The Breeders’ Cup World Championships are no exception. Corporations have sponsored 9 of the 14 races this year. Sentient Air Group, Bessemer Trust, Emirates Airlines, TVG, and Grey Goose Vodka are excited to attach their name to high profile races all for the glory of advertising and subsequent revenue.

I don’t get it.

Whose attention are these corporations planning to attract? It appears that the Breeders’ Cup has made great strides to secure sponsors that have associations with moneyed individuals, like Warren Buffet and Curlin,

Buffy Buffet: Oooh, honey! Look-ee! Sentient Flight Group is a sponsor! Their round-trip fare in the continental United States is only $7,700! What a bargain!

Emirates Airline has been shuttling sheikhs and Zayats back and forth since the Crusades. And according to their website, Emirates Airline can fly me to Ahmedabad for a mere $1,205. If I was actually going to Ahmedabad, I might consider this a great deal. However, I’m fairly certain that I don’t want to go there. And I’m also fairly certain that 98.76% of the folks hanging out at the racetrack and local OTBs don’t want to go there either. Personally, I can relate more to Southwest Airlines, particularly the “Friends Fly Free” and “Fun Fare” shill.

Bessemer Trust isn’t even interested in me, the middling railbird, as a possible client and flatly informs me,
Enhancing Private Wealth for Generations

Admittedly, I easily recognize Grey Goose Vodka. And I’m now compelled to use it in future martinis. Let that be a lesson, Stolichnaya! Hah!

Surprisingly absent this year is a corporate sponsor to the Breeders’ Cup Classic Formerly Powered by Dodge. As a Texan, I could identify with Dodge. The Dodge Ram 1500 is the state truck of Texas and driven by all 236 residents in Deaf Smith County. And Breeders’ Cup couldn’t find another sponsor to be associated with a race with a $5 million purse? Unbelievable. Geez, the Superbowl can get a corporate sponsor for the coin toss, for heaven’s sake. But apparently, Pepsi, Bank of America, Tostitos, and Poulan Weedeater were unavailable or not interested in the richest horse race in North America.

I’m not a marketing guru and I certainly don’t pretend to understand the Breeders’ Cup marketing strategy or advertising schemes. However, Greg Avioli, Breeders’ Cup President, admits that one of the goals of the Breeders’ Cup is to bring new fans to the sport and that has yet to be realized. Naming rights is the tour de force of advertising. New fans and/or the general public that is aware that horse racing exists, should be able to recognize some of the corporate sponsors. Take NASCAR, for instance. The public recognizes the Home Depot car and the Budweiser car, zipping by at 422 miles per hour, and the public clearly knows that the drivers are Buford Snodgrass III and Nancy Pelosi. Or whoever it is because I really don’t know anything about NASCAR. But I know Home Depot. I know Budweiser. Thus, I’m not a complete moron when anybody talks NASCAR, only a partial moron.

Perhaps Breeders’ Cup might embrace corporate sponsors that the everyman can recognize. There are five Breeders’ Cup races without a corporate sponsor this year. Maybe Greg Avioli should consider calling Home Depot. I like Home Depot. And they have the right supportive philosophy,
You can do it. We can help.


    Geno said...

    Ironically when Rich's naming rights expired in 2002 (30 yr deal for $1.5M super cheap) the owner decided not to go for the bucks and named it after himself (Ralph Wilson Stadium)...hey we're progressive up here in Bflo and Upstate NY with all of the first 3 (Pilot Field...now Dunn Tire Field) and down the thruway Syracuse Carrier Dome. Great post.

    Teresa said...

    In a blind taste test at the New York Times a couple of years ago, Smirnoff beat both Grey Goose and Stoli hands down.

    I like the idea of the downmarket sponsorship. Can we get Target to sign on, too?

    John said...

    Bessemer Trust was founded by a Phipps in 1907, I think he was Dinny Phipps grandpa. I always wondered why they were a sponsor until I read that.

    Nets Jets is not a sponsor? That's a surprise, anybody who uses Bessemer needs a private jet. They go hand in hand.

    Inspiration still hasn't struck on the joint venture but I am working on it.

    Superfecta said...

    I'd just be happy with a Dogfish Head Del Cap.

    Winston...not really said...

    Warren Buffet owns a part of Net Jets, he also, I guess, owns pretty much everything else.

    I still think they could make decals that could go on the hoof.

    Big Brother said...

    Naming rights is the tour de force of advertising.

    How about the Tour de France Breeder's Cup?

    You heard it here first either ici ou la bas!

    Je me souviens!