A conversation and a news item last week reinforced one of sponsorship’s foundational elements: Brands must keep their eyes on the prize, and the prize is not the attention of fans—which is relatively easy to earn—but rather their goodwill, loyalty, and support.
The news item first. Wendy’s chief marketing officer Carl Loredo attempted to stir the pot in the wake of fan praise for the look of his company’s sponsored entry in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500. He told Sports Business Journal, “We’re proud of Noah Gragson’s No. 42 ‘The BEEF’ car, and fans have been praising the paint scheme on social all week long!…We can’t say the same goes for our McBland competitors. At Wendy’s, we don’t cut corners.”
He was referring, of course, to McDonald’s, a primary sponsor of 23XI Racing’s No. 23 car driven by Bubba Wallace. Whether or not you agree with Loredo’s comparison of the photorealistic depiction of a Wendy’s burger on the hood of Gragson’s car with the Golden Arches on Wallace’s is not the point.
His remarks are at best immaterial to NASCAR followers and at worst could earn Wendy’s some enemies among Wallace’s considerable fan base.
Did the dust-up create some awareness for the brand’s sponsorship? Perhaps. But Wendy’s arguably would have been better off just taking the win that social media denizens like their car better.
What will actually determine whether either QSR earns ROO or ROI on their sponsorships will be how relevant they make those partnerships through activations that provide something of value to racing aficionados.
Moving on to the conversation. It was around the topic of corporate resale of unused tickets. While the primary benefit of resale for sponsors is recouping the value of tickets that would otherwise go to waste, a sponsor executive mentioned that her company also views reselling as a way to combat the perception that corporate buyers snap up great seats but are willing to let them sit empty.
Although it might be difficult for a single company to tout the benefits of resale through a corporate communications effort without looking like it was patting itself on the back, as more companies become active resellers it would not be a bad idea to let the public know that as an industry, sports marketers are making a concerted effort to get tickets they can’t use back into the hands of fans.