TicketManager | Latest Sports Business News Raises More Questions than Answers

The first week of May has not only brought snow to the Rockies, storms to the Plains and summer-like sunshine and temperatures to many places in the U.S., but also a number of sports partnership announcements that mirror the variety of recent weather patterns.

Two of the latest sponsorship deals provoke intriguing questions about the strategy, and objectives behind them.

Deal #1: Indian dairy giant Amul continued its history of sponsoring different national teams in international cricket tournaments with the signing of both the U.S. and South African squads participating in the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. The marketing brand for the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation, Amul will be the lead-arm sleeve sponsor for both teams at next month’s event co-hosted by the U.S. and West Indies.

The brand, which markets dairy products including butter, ghee, ice cream and soon fresh milk in the U.S., began this particular sponsorship effort 13 years ago.

According to SportsPro, “Amul has been a frequent sponsor of teams during International Cricket Council (ICC) tournaments, having previously partnered with the New Zealand and the Netherlands national sides for the 2017 Champions Trophy and 2011 Cricket World Cup, respectively, among others. It also sponsored the debut season of the Women’s Premier League (WPL) last year. The deal with Cricket South Africa continues a collaboration that first began with a 2019 one-day international series and resumed at the 2023 World Cup.”

Question #1: In eschewing the more traditional partnership path of sponsoring its home nation team or the tournaments themselves, has Amul found a cost-effective way to associate with cricket’s premier events and establish a strong connection to the sport? Or will its leapfrogging from team to team limit its ROI versus results from a more permanent, long-term relationship?

Deal #2: FICO adorned three Kentucky Derby jockeys—Jose Ortiz, Ben Curtis and Keith Asmussen—with its brand for this year’s Run for the Roses.

Question #2: Why? As I have written before, I won’t cast any partnership as good or bad unless I have a complete understanding of the motivation behind it, so without throwing shade, I simply would like to understand what the folks behind the famous FICO score were trying to achieve here.

If it was quick brand visibility in front of a large audience, then most likely they accomplished their mission. But it also seems like a missed opportunity to activate the Derby association to do more than just have fleeting human billboards.

If the impetus was to promote the FICO Score, the brand could have used digital and social media to connect with the story of one of the closest three-horse finishes in Derby history, even if none of its entries figured in the photo-finish. I didn’t see anything on social media from FICO beyond the initial announcement. (Also, despite reporting from Sports Business Journal that the deal included social media posts by the jockeys, none of the three posted anything regarding FICO to Instagram or X.)

There’s also a distinct possibility that FICO wants to be known for more than consumer credit reporting. Sports partnerships could be a powerful method of spreading the word about the analytics software and tools the company provides to businesses around the globe, but that would require more assets, benefits and activation than merely printing the company name on a few jockey’s pants.