Seth Godin had a post this weekend that fits nicely with some of my thoughts regarding sports marketing. He talks about the purpose of sponsoring a sporting event and doing it in a way that builds business (or trust, or affinity). If the goal of your sports sponsorship is to lock in good seats at the event for the suits, you’re probably in it for the wrong reasons.
I’ve worked with some of the biggest companies on some of the biggest sports sponsorships. The most effective programs were always ones where everybody came out a winner. MasterCard’s use of Pele for the FIFA World Cup comes to mind. The media loved to talk to Pele and their were able to do so because we made him available. The consumers had a chance to obtain Pele-branded credit cards and MasterCard was able to create a connection to the sport of football (soccer) that they didn’t naturally have. No, it wasn’t perfect, but it was effective for more than a decade.