Villing & Company

The BCS: Brand Championship Series

On January 2 I flipped between the TicketCity and Bowls while remembering Notre Dame's collapse in the Champs Sports Bowl. Around the time I started seeing mentions of the Chick-fil-A Bowl, Outback Bowl and Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, something in me snapped.

What happened to that happy New Year's Day marriage between football and fruit? The elegance that was once found in names like the Citrus Bowl, Orange Bowl and heck, even the Tangerine Bowl seems to be lost forever, buried under a pile of awkward sponsor-touting titles.

Don't get me wrong. Even a novice marketer can see a massive benefit for sponsoring a college bowl game. The appeal is obvious – great exposure and a chance to exponentially boost name recognition for your brand. The number of impressions generated by one of these things must be incredible.

But quantitative measures can't make up for the qualitative clumsiness of a game sponsorship that raises more eyebrows than it does brand loyalty. I mean, does this look like an ad from a brand that belongs anywhere near a football field?

Not all bowl sponsorships are as grating as peddlers of women's shoes or frankly any of the bowl sponsorships mentioned here. Predictably, those with some sort of longevity enjoy a greater aura of legitimacy. Tostito's longstanding sponsorship of the Fiesta Bowl is perhaps the best example, not only for its stability but also because mentioning tortilla chips next to the word "fiesta" seems to make sense. Meanwhile, I'll give a jar of queso to anyone who can tell me they've seen a single ad since January 2.

Which means there is a point to my soapbox ascension: loyalty is never something that can be achieved through a blitz of name mentions associated with a football game. Just because there may be a short-term payoff doesn't mean the brand will benefit over the long haul, and not every kind of advertising that is effective is necessarily endearing. (Take, for example, negative political ads.)

Just as football games are seldom won with a strong showing in the first quarter, it's also difficult to take potential customers across the goal line without a sustained effort. Marketers, always plan for the long term. It may not be as cool as getting your logo painted in the middle of a football field, but it will definitely help you stay off the sidelines.

Filed Under: branding

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