Saturday, June 27, 2009
Sponsorship is not charity!
Sports associations cannot demand sponsorship, but have to earn it. Sponsorship is not charity!
I was shocked when Malay Mail took to task Air Asia for sponsoring National Football League (NFL) Oakland Raiders in a move to boost its brand recognition in America (read the Malay Mail story on Thursday).
Air Asia were questioned why they were sponsoring foreign entities when they should be supporting local sports.
First and foremost, it is the prerogative of Air Asia as to who they want to sponsor. Secondly, as a company where profit is utmost on their minds, they surely would have looked at all aspects before venturing out to tie a deal with Oakland Raiders. Air Asia is responsible to its shareholders and surely they were looking at long-term profitability of the company both in terms of revenue and extending their wings to America. (read NST's story on the sponsorship)
Thirdly, it is not that Air Asia has not looked at local sports totally. They are sponsoring the Olympic Council of Malaysia, FA of Malaysia, Malaysian Hockey Federation and Malaysian Amateur Basketball Association.
Four years ago, I had interviewed Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes (above) when he attended a FIFA Com-Unity Workshop organised by the FA of Malaysia. I had asked him why Asia Asia had not sponsored Malaysian soccer. He not only replied why he had not sponsored Malaysian soccer, but also spoke about what sponsorship is all about. Clare Kenny, the then FIFA marketing instructor, also spoke on marketing and sponsorship in the workshop. (Read the interview)
FA of Malaysia eventually saw Air Asia sponsoring them. (Read how?)
And how many of remember the Rakan Sukan (partner-in-sports)? Whatever happened to it? The sponsors pulled out in no time because the national associations were not professional, transparent, could not manage the funds and above all, failed to take care of their sponsors in terms of mileage for them. (Read about the Rakan Sukan here)
I have personally involved in trying to get sponsorship when I was involved with The Malay Mail football team when were playing the M-League in Division Two from 2001 - 2003. Even being a newspaper team, who could offer immense coverage and mileage to the sponsors, we have tremendous difficulties in securing sponsors. There be many out there who have the budget to sponsor, but they are not just going to throw the money at anyone who approaches them. There has to be market value for the sponsorship, there has to be returns and above all it has to be beneficial to both parties - the sponsor and the sponsored.
Thus, instead of blaming corporations for not coming out to support Malaysian sports, let us look at ourselves in the mirror and see if we are doing the right thing to entice the sponsors.