Okay, okay, cheap joke. But I’ll assert that it is a legitimate concern in response to the news that BattleFrog is sponsoring the Big-but-not-quite-Super football game in the general vicinity of New Year’s Day.* Hilarious typos happen, no matter how much care you take to avoid them. (As I know all too well from 8 years in a job where referring to “public libraries” was a daily occurrence.)
That’s about all I know about whether or not the move is smart or stupid, despite the unenlightened speculation I’ve seen online about the topic. Is it a brilliant move that will bring OCR into the mainstream or a waste of millions of dollars that will promote the race to lazy mouth-breathing slobs whose idea of athletic achievement is when they only have to rest once on the way to the mini-fridge they installed in the TV room because the kitchen is too far away?** I dunno.
Time may help to clear that up, or maybe not. I do enough work with cost-benefit analysis in my current job to know that it’s a really imprecise task (despite being an awfully valuable one). It’s usually hard to know exactly what benefits are caused by the thing your investigating (rather than just happening at the same time), and the benefits are usually not cash, so they have to be translated from whatever they are into a dollar value, but there’s a lot of leeway in how you do that. (I’ve seen human lives valued at anywhere from $1.5 million to $4.5 million, for example.)
With a promotional effort like this, it seems particularly tricky. First off, while promotion certainly can work (otherwise no one would do it) the mechanism by which it works adds another layer of imprecision. I doubt that anyone sees “The BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl” and says, “Wow, I need to buy a BattleFrog Fiesta!” Plus, in addition to whether or not sponsoring a bowl game is an effective way to get promotional messages to people who will ultimately register for a BattleFrog, there’s the whole issue of whether or not BattleFrog will use its opportunity in an effective way. Will they craft a brilliantly persuasive marketing campaign, or will everything need to be pulled within 12 seconds when the news breaks that the spokesperson they hired is under investigation for pedophilia? Obviously, way too soon to know.
I did a very brief online search about whether bowl game sponsorship in general is a logical and worthwhile thing to do. As you might expect, there isn’t a lot of terribly worthwhile information that I found. But there is one quite important distinction that doesn’t seem to be getting mentioned. According to sponsorship.com, “For the most part, bowl naming rights are media buys.” In other words, even though “BattleFrog Sponsors Fiesta Bowl” is the headline, the actual story is that BattleFrog bought millions of dollars of ads on ESPN and they threw in Fiesta Bowl naming rights as an add-on.
Now, sponsorship.com is published by… well, it’s hard to say, based on the about page, but it looks like the company that makes money helping companies sponsor sporting events. So it’s biased in favor of sponsorship and therefore it should be taken with a mound of salt. But I’m inclined to suspect that this point is probably accurate—I don’t see a lot of motivation for them to apply a bunch of spin to the technical aspects of sponsorship like that.
Some other bits of information that I found:
Howeoriginal argued in 2013 that the BCS bowls, of which Fiesta is one, are among the worst bowl sponsorship opportunities, due to their very high cost and because the names tend to stand alone without the sponsor. I don’t know that either point is particularly valid—it doesn’t really address whether the value justifies the cost and, as noted above, the title sponsorship is a pretty minor aspect of the deal.
A pretty crappily written article from Forbes last year suggested that major bowl sponsorship provides a good return on investment that minor bowls don’t. But the information in the article comes entirely from one guy, who doesn’t really back it up with information. That one guy, however, is a former sales guy at ESPN, so he may have insider insight. He also may have an axe to grind, or be attempting to spread misinformation to his now-competitors. Really, the article is crap.
Just for the amusement factor: Last year SBNation published an article ruminating about the cost of buying one thing from each bowl game sponsor. I wouldn’t mind the $8 billion space telescope.
*I hope that I’m not infringing on any NFL trademarks there-I know the Fiesta Bowl is the NCAA, but the NFL are twats.
**Or hopefully both. The more lazy, mouth-breathing slobs, the better my ranking shall be!