Campaign India Team
Jan 09, 2009

Anant's blog on Satyam: Missed lesson from the FIFA sponsorship

I’ve sold a lot of sponsorships during my career. Some for plain vanilla on-ground events, some for plain vanilla TV programs, some for small on-ground + TV events and some for large on-ground + TV events, some for special publications and supplements.This has left me constantly intrigued by unusual sponsorship buys. Each time I see communication for a new TV show or for an event, I look for the title sponsor and at the ‘supermarket’ of logos at the bottom of the ad listing all the associate and barter sponsors.

Anant's blog on Satyam: Missed lesson from the FIFA sponsorship

I’ve sold a lot of sponsorships during my career. Some for plain vanilla on-ground events, some for plain vanilla TV programs, some for small on-ground + TV events and some for large on-ground + TV events, some for special publications and supplements.

This has left me constantly intrigued by unusual sponsorship buys. Each time I see communication for a new TV show or for an event, I look for the title sponsor and at the ‘supermarket’ of logos at the bottom of the ad listing all the associate and barter sponsors.

Instinctively, I try and figure out why a particular brand sponsored a particular property.

A little over a year ago, a few months after Campaign India launched, we carried a front-page story on Satyam becoming the first Indian company to sponsor the FIFA World Cup.

I was a more than a little confused. Why would an IT company, primarily in the B2B space, want to sponsor something as expensive as the World Cup? There was something not quite right here.

I forgot about it, diverted by the following:
    * Satyam was a respected brand. They wouldn’t do anything shady.
    * Satyam (and senior management at Satyam) were recipients of various awards from respectable media houses such as The Economic Times and CNBC.
    * An official statement quoted in The Economic Times said, “With this deal, we will not have to introduce Satyam to any CIO.”

What was niggling was this statement. It was like unleashing a salvo of intercontinental ballistic missiles when a fly-swatter might have sufficed.

Why do you need to sponsor an event which attracts the world’s largest TV audience when you need to communicate to just the CIOs – and the number of target companies couldn’t be more than a thousand? That, to my mind, was an appalling waste of money.

Unless, of course, the statement of the unnamed spokesman was a red herring – and Satyam was targeting the hundreds of millions who watch the ultimate sporting extravaganza and not the handful of CIOs they claimed to be targeting.

I saw this strategy, up close and personal, with Bhopal Sugar Industries, The House of Kedia, NEPC and MESCO, to name just a few that I can remember. Sponsor a big event and hustle the stock market.

And we all know what happened to them.

I’m kicking myself, no pun intended, that I couldn’t make the connect.

Source:
Campaign India