Sponsor-less in Seattle
Sometimes, as a group of like-minded sponsorship professionals, it's good to take our head out of sponsorville and see how the general public feels about the practice. Sure, media pundits weigh in about the virtues, and more often lately, the pitfalls of sponsorship, but how does Joe Public feel when his favorite event gets cancelled. When Chase spokesperson Donahoe-Wilmot said there's "no chance" Chase will renew its title sponsorship of Seattle's fireworks next year, we found out.
Here's a good sample of public opinion from comments of a story Monica Guzman at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer wrote today entitled "Who will sponsor next year's fireworks?"
"Microsoft? Starbucks? Boeing? Amazon?Google? Bill Gates? Steve Ballmer? Paul Allen? Come on, one of you can do this in your sleep."
"Wow. Chase is the devil. Talk about slash and burn. If you bank there, consider transferring to a locally-owned credit union."
"Wow. Could Chase suck any more -----? Just when I thought it's corporate, screw-you attitude had hit rock bottom. Is largesse a thing of the past?"
"If I can get 20,000 of you to move your accounts from Chase to BECU, I'll use my referral bonus to pay for the show!"
"What a bunch of greedy creeps [directed at other commenter]. So Chase chooses not to dole out a freebie to you. gimme gimme gimme. That's sickening."
"Why is it the "responsibility" of big business to sponsor a "free" fireworks display for the people of the city? I don't fault Chase one bit for not dumping $1/2-million in a fireworks show in this economy."
"Well, what did you expect?...from a bank that ONLY cashes WaMu and Chase brand checks - on the spot?!!"
And those aren't even the worst! We all know, Joe Pub has a short memory. Last week, we looked at the case for and against Macy's fireworks sponsorship, and based on the comments this looks like a no-win situation for Chase. Drop it and you're cheap, keep it and you're wasteful.
Perhaps Chase could have handled the PR around this announcement a little better in announcing that they would be dropping their mid-six figure sponsorship of the celebration, which it inherited from its acquisition of WaMu last year. At the time, Chase "reluctantly" agreed to extend the title sponsorship, but only for one year (2009). With that said, you have to have a certain degree respect for a sponsor who makes clear their intentions well in advance, thereby allowing their "former partner" plenty of time to evaluate other options. Was one week after July 4th bad timing for PR perhaps, but would it have been better for Chase to keep the business decision up in the air for several months?
At the end of the day, seems that both property and sponsor could have found a better way to handle this announcement.
Photo credit: dherrera_96