publication date: Jan 18, 2012
author/source: Brent Barootes
Every day, I watch the marketplace. Sponsorship and
sponsorship marketing is not just my career, it is my passion. At the Partnership Group - Sponsorship
, we work with a large number of charities and nonprofits.
Brands or sponsors are also on our client list.
Last fall, the Consumer
showed that 55% of Canadians would switch brands if
that brand supports a charity or cause. Furthermore, 63% of Canadians would
prefer to conduct business with companies that support charities and causes.
The problem with this strong affinity and crossover to sponsorship is that
there is often too much "good-washing."
The Social Good
by communication agency JWT
was profiled in the September 30 issue of Canadian Fundraising and Philanthropy
from The Hilborn Group
referenced "good-washing." In my mind, it is a huge issue.
Sponsorship can be
Every day, I see another company tagging onto a charity and
not paying for the brand equity it receives. I see charities charging for
affinity and delivering poorly. I see brands such as KFC tying themselves to
breast cancer with "pink buckets of chicken" or (again) KFC to Juvenile
Diabetes with $1 per $2.99 mega-jug of Pepsi going to the cause (read that this
drink has the equivalent of 56 spoonfuls of sugar and 800 calories)! Who is
initiating these catastrophes? Furthermore, what charity wants to damage its
brand like that?
The Social Good Report notes that there must be more
transparency to avoid such "good-washing." I say it needs more common sense.
Brands that are not aligned with the mission of the property
have no right to be there. An "ethics meter" needs to be placed in corporate
sponsor offices to ensure that the properties don't get taken for a ride. I saw
a situation where a telephone card company wanted to work with a major Canadian
charity. The deal was awful for the charity, but they took it because they saw
dollars coming their way. The calling card company couldn't care less about the
charity and its mission. It just wanted to reach that charity's international
When we recommended that the charity walk away from the
deal, they felt they could not. They felt that they needed the money to fulfil
their mission. Ironically, the money never flowed and their brand and image
were tarnished. Great deal that was!
Brand even more
important than money
You know, I say it is always about the money ... and it is.
But the value of a corporation's brand and a property's brand is enormous. If
the partnership can cause harm to the brand on either side, the deal should not
be done no matter how much cash is on the table. Properties need to say no!
Properties need to move from the "Woe is me, I need the money ... my
stakeholders will forgive me" line to understanding that donors, sponsors, and
constituents are not that forgiving. When properties just grab for the money,
they will soon pay the price.
Good-washing. The only way it will stop is when the few
companies out there doing it are "hung out to dry" and the charities that
enable them are punished for such stupidity.
Brent Barootes, president
of Partnership Group - Sponsorship
Specialists, has worked directly or indirectly with many Canadian
professional and amateur sports teams, nonprofit and charitable organizations
as well as major corporations to develop, design, and build effective
His expertise includes
sponsorship valuations and audits, inventory/benefit development, package
development, and mentoring of staff and volunteers for both corporations
engaging in sponsorship as well as charitable, nonprofit and for-profit events
Contact him by email or visit www.partnershipgroup.ca.