Last weekend, watching the Spanish Grand Prix F1 race (on my couch), I saw a commercial for Kumho Tires, identifying itself as an official sponsor of U.S. Soccer. I found this odd. Why does does that sport need a tire sponsor, and why would F1 racing fans care that Kumho Tires sponsors that sport?

Then, flying to New Orleans on American Airlines to an event I was co-sponsoring (exhibiting at an ERP vendor’s annual SIG meeting in exchange for a speaking slot), I saw an ad in the in-flight magazine for Casillero del Diablo as the official wine partner of Manchester United.

Again, why does a soccer/football club need a wine sponsor, and who in the U.S. really cares about ManU (one of the globally most recognizable sports brands, but with little-to-no recognition value by the general public in the U.S.)?

Here are my guidelines to a successful sponsorship:

  1. Make sure that what you are sponsoring elevates you, rather than the other way around, and
  2. Make sure that the audience consuming your sponsorship welcomes your involvement and can react meaningfully.

This is different from goodwill marketing, where you truly want to give something back to the community without expecting a tangible return. I question whether soccer fans will buy Kumho Tires, Castrol motor oil, Yingli Solar equipment, or Century 21-marketed homes just because these companies “sponsor” U.S. Soccer.

On the other hand, I wish Envirocon Technologies would sponsor me, as I’ve been a phenomenal net promoter for Lemi Shine®.