“Enter At Your Own Peril” : Sponsor Association With Controversial Brand Ambassadors 23rd September, 2013


“The role of a brand ambassador – the brand ambassador is a marketing model that employs trusted, credible personalities to promote and give greater visibility to its brand products

It seems, historically, that sport and scandal have gone hand-in-hand. Over the past five years there have been multiple athletes in the upper echelons of their respected fields that have been subject to a public fall from grace. For the sponsor, the usual protocol will be to run for the hills, and withdraw any association with the respected star. However, there are some exceptions, and brands do, in some cases, stick by or re-invest in their asset – but under what circumstance and why?

Level Of Association

If the player is either an integral part of the sponsors make up, or headline star, then it makes the job of getting rid of them, and keeping to your marketing strategy a lot harder. Woods, of course, has been embezzled with the swoosh his entire career, this can also be said of Wayne Rooney. However Ryan Giggs has not been so fortunate, despite being held up as headline moral ambassador for his maturity, the star ended up being shunned by a number of his sponsors for a comparable offense to that of Rooney or Woods.


The commercial revenue generated by any ambassador is integral to their credentials, and can play a significant role in the decision making process. In Woods and Rooney’s case, both EA games and Nike had complete product ranges centered on them, and commercially had too much to lose.

Sponsor’s market place

Accenture was Woods’s big loss in the aftermath of the scandal around his affair. The firm could not justify sporting a star whilst marketing themselves as a trusted Business Consultancy. Brands have ambassadors for a multitude of reasons, but they must be able to link their common values and business goals. In contrast, Alex Rodriguez, was still used by Guitar Hero in their adverts even after he admitted to taking banned substances. The business case for this was that Guitar Hero’s product was not affiliated with his sporting attributes, but his public personality.

The Offense

The line with which most brands have consistently taken when suspending contracts, has been when the ambassador’s actions directly affect the relationship they have with the respected brand’s promotional attributes. In the case of Drugs there has been a 100% termination rate in sport. However, in the case of Kate Moss and the fashion industry, the offence was taken very differently. Although she did lose substantial contracts, Moss managed to retain seven, and go on to re-build her career, something which has never been seen on such a scale in sport.

There is no doubt that trust in ambassadors has publically waned, as such, there has been a shift in how brands market their ambassadors. Recent campaigns by brands such as Nike illustrate that the focus is now upon empowering the consumer, rather than showboating the skills of an untouchable star. Even in fashion, couture designers are collaborating with high street fashion chains to bring their products to a consumer level. This shift undoubtedly showcases ambassadors but does much to bring the star or garment to the consumers level, retaining brand loyalty, which is essential in a very fickle market place.

It’s the end product that matters

As the quote above states, ambassadors uphold the values of the product they promote, and being the lucrative tool which they are, brands will do anything to protect them. However no one is bigger than the brand and on a case-by-case basis, the outcome of each offense is dictated by the relationship between the star and the value of the product they endorse.

Surge in Digital Sponsors 21st September, 2010

Sponsorship is gaining footing in the digital sector, where sponsors know how to best maximise ROI from these channels.  By its nature sponsorship creates ideal digital marketing opportunities.  It has the flexibility to provide platforms for brands to create exclusive content and online experiences as well as being able to engage directly with their audience.

One of our clients, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), has some surprising figures in this regard.  Seen as a more traditional marketing organisiation, you’d be surprised to learn that over 50% of their sponsorship comes from digital marketing partners!

Marketers are desperately searching for new and economical avenues to create stronger relationships between their brands and target audiences. One avenue that’s resurgent is sponsorship, which is proving a powerful way to engage with consumers. At a time when people are constantly marketed to through an increasing number of channels, consumer engagement is vital for marketers to get their messages across.  When reaching its target audience, sponsorship provides an ideal medium to facilitate this engagement by providing tangible “touch points” for the consumer.

For example, when Silverpop, a U.S.-based organisation that provides worldwide web-based solutions to its clients, was interested in building brand awareness among the top marketers in the United Kingdom, it chose to incorporate a bespoke DMA sponsorship programme within its marketing mix to do so. Silverpop chose to sponsor the DMA B2B Email Marketing Event in London. This sponsorship has allowed the right’s owner the DMA to provide new training for the B2B email sector while also providing the sponsor Silverpop with the best platform from which to showcase its expertise.

For Silverpop, the many touch points and benefits of their sponsorship proposal included:

  • A speaking opportunity at the event
  • Production of a joint press release to associate themselves with the DMA
  • Increased profile among delegates throughout the promotional campaign

This sponsorship provided the perfect platform from which to increase brand awareness and engagement among the people that matter most to the company. 

If you haven’t yet thought about integrating sponsorship into your marketing mix, or felt it wasn’t useful to your type of business, you might want to take a fresh look at your current marketing and what your competitors are doing—it may surprise you.

Email in Motion 14th September, 2010

Usually the last person picked for school teams, I jumped at the opportunity when asked to join the Pure360 team for their upcoming Scally Rally.  Perhaps it was because of my experience of driving on the other side of the road or my love of road trip snacks, either way, I have made the cut!

The team includes email marketing specialists from Pure360 along with their partners and friends, myself included  With a range of specialities in email, search and social media from product development and commercial management, you can be sure that the top email tips that we share will be worth following.  Not to mention keeping informed on who crashes the car first!

Our race through Europe starts in Calais, France and ends in Rimini, Italy.  Throughout those four days (based on the car not breaking down), the whole team will be sharing email marketing tips along the way through videos, blogs and tweets.  We will be spreading the word of email marketing across Europe, so be sure to follow our adventure.

The Pure360 Scally Rally Team is also raising money for a group of charities including Barnardo’s, The British Heart Foundation, The Woodlands Trust and many others.  We would love to swap your sterling for email tips – donations can be made here.

To find more information on the Pure360 Scally Rally team, their drivers, the route, or the charities, as well as following us on our blog, please check out: http://www.pure360emailmarketing.co.uk/scallyrally