Mud can transfer in the opposite direction, too. The Houston Astros
paid $2 million to erase the Enron Field name off its baseball
Poorly behaved athletes and teams are just one way sports
sponsorships can go awry. Companies looking to attach their names
to an event, says McLaughlin of Deloitte Consulting, need to be
concerned about everything, from security to adequate seating to
unruly fans. "There could be bad news around the event for whatever
reason," he says. "It's kind of unpredictable."
Which is one reason why Toyota gets involved in the nitty-gritty of
all racing events that bear its name, including the 30-year-old
Toyota Grand Prix in Long Beach, California. On average, Unger
says, the company will begin planning - with the event promoters,
Toyota's advertising agency, and corporate staff, as well as
dealers in the area where the event is held - about five months in
advance. The dealers, because they know the local market best,
decide which vehicles and products go on display; ad buys and
promotions are planned; guest lists are assembled. It's a big
commitment, and not just in terms of the dollars required to secure
sponsorship rights. "Forget dollars. Time is critical because you
only have a finite number of hours in the week, and we need to be
able to plan these events in a way Toyota is comfortable with,"
Unger says. "We don't just write a check and say, 'Put the signs
up, put the ads up, and blast away.' "
While it is a strong supporter of sports sponsorships, even Toyota
admits that measuring an event's effectiveness is difficult. From
its area dealers, Toyota gets a good sense of an event's effect on
immediate sales. The company also simply looks at how many people
showed up, or "butts in the seats," as Unger puts it. Beyond that,
"it's not as scientific as you might think," he says.