#sponsorship

Democrats doing what Democrats do best

So the Democrats are proposing a bill to pull federal funding for the 2026 World Cup if the US Soccer Federation (USSF) doesn’t fix the gender pay gap between the men’s and women’s teams.

Surely in a country that dominates the world in inflated sports contracts based on performance that these politicians might be on top of the idea that it is driven by the market, not by socialism and equality. The superstars in sports on balance have the edge that many of us do not possess.

If the women’s team was paid more than the men’s team, would Manchin seek to redress the inequality back the other way? Here is betting he wouldn’t say a word. CM has always argued women should be paid more than men should the economics support it.

When it comes to soccer the women’s World Cup generated $131m in revenues vs the men’s World Cup at $6bn. There is a reason for that. If sponsors see that the women’s game is such a great opportunity to market then they’ll flock without the need for legislation.

Constructive dismissal?

CM’s view on the incompetence of Rugby Australia (RA) is well documented and reconfirmed by Alan Jones in The Australian today. It appears that Israel Folau looks more like a sacrifice to the altar of the sponsor god, Qantas.

Sponsorship money is important to sports teams but it should never get to a point where the sponsored has to make unconscionable decisions to acquiesce their paymasters. It is unethical.

CM has long held issues over Qantas’ flagrant use of shareholder capital to sponsor the CEO’s activism. It is terrible governance.

Remember the acceptance rings ahead of the same sex marriage debate that Qantas pushed so hard on us? The idea was to distribute these acceptance rings (not fully closed) to customers, clients and travellers.

CM supposed if someone were to politely decline to wear one they risked being be branded homophobic, bigoted and summarily ostracized for expressing such views. It might be that they actually support gay marriage but do not wish to express it openly. That is nothing more than a conscious choice, not categorical staunch opposition. Perhaps failure to wear the ring could cause their career takes a turn for the worse all because they don’t comply with group expression i.e. corporate slavery. The team leader who passes them over because they incorrectly assume the employee is a dissenter. That is palpable workplace bullying encouraged by a woke CEO.

What Jones points out is that the ‘wallaby court’ had already decided the outcome before a word was uttered in defence. It appears it was a ‘hearing’ conducted with the deaf.

RA CEO Raelene Castle apparently told Vanessa Hudson, chief customer officer at Qantas,

I updated her on the situation a day after the post and told her that, confidentially, Rugby AU would be working towards a process to terminate Mr Folau’s contract and that Ms Hudson can share that position with Qantas chief executive Mr Alan Joyce. Ms Hudson texted me later that day saying that she had only shared the update with Mr Joyce and he was appreciative of the transparency and he said that a speedy resolution by Rugby AU was paramount.”

This says a lot about Qantas. If it wants to exert control over RA it should acquire it and manage it as a subsidiary.

Yet where was the pushback by RA? It flaked. If it understood the dwindling fan numbers meant it wasn’t connecting to revenue, it might have thought defending Folau might have been its greatest coup and that many non virtue signaling corporates could replace Qantas’ sponsorship.

The culture of RA is self evident. It is not about rugby anymore but a platform for identity politics.No wonder fans are deserting it. CM discusses dwindling fan numbers yesterday, something Jones alluded to. Put simply, the product stinks and that rot permeates from the top. Fans aren’t stupid.

Coach Michael Cheika’s abysmal win/loss record is tolerated because he tows the line of the C-level cabal. So do some of the players who threatened to boycott the team if Folau was allowed to keep playing.What a joke! These virtue signaling players if given the choice to stand by their beliefs or keep their lucrative contracts would choose the latter every time. They sounded just like those Hollywoodcelebrities that threatened to leave America if Trump won the presidency.Hypocrites.

However it only reinforces the reality of the culture within the RA that encourages this type of numb skulled response to pander to the top. If these players wanted to think about faith in context of not selling out core beliefs they could learn muchfrom Israel Folau.

It increasingly looks like the high level breach has been committed by the board in cahoots with Qantas.

As CM mentioned yesterday, perhaps receivership is the best outcome for RA. That way the apparatchiks get cleared out and replaced by people that connect with fans who ultimately pay the keep the lights on at HQ. It isn’t that hard to fix RA’s problems but it will be impossible with a leadership team which seems to support constructive dismissal at the behest of corporates that champion activism rather than principle. Clearly Qantas is the mean “spirit of Australia”

Get woke, go broke.

In rare support of Nike

Who could forget Nike’s political stunt in favour of the kneelers supporting BLM? Recall the millions it paid Colin Kaepernick to tell us about the bravery of those sacrificing everything if they believed in it. Social justice is a thang at Nike, at least among the marketing department. Naturally, it provoked a lot of anger from real Americans who served their country, some who paid for it with their lives. Taya Kyle, the war widow of legendary sniper Chris Kyle, wrote a stern letter to Nike which was on the mark.

Now some are taking Nike to task over the sponsorship contracts it holds with superstars, especially females. Nike does not appear to sacrifice everything, especially when it believes it.

Six-time track and field Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix penned an op-ed to The NY Times telling of the cold realities of re-contracting while considering having a child. Sadly the Nike contracting team is probably staffed with icy cold hard-nosed realists compared to the cuddly socially active marketing department.

33-yo Felix said Nike wanted to contract her 70% less after her pregnancy. She wanted the original value to stay in force even if she suffered slight underperformance in the months after childbirth. Her request is totally understandable. Surely Nike could have done some celebrity mother and child adverts to pluck at the heartstrings of the average person? Get all those mothers with newborns to sport a pair of Nike kicks and leotards as they push their strollers to yoga. Just the sort of mush that a marketing department craves.

High-end endorsements are extremely hard to get. The bigger the payout the higher the pressure and expectations thrust upon the star. Contracts are driven by athletic performance and the ability to drive sales off the back of it. These performance-based targets are likely to be written clearly in black and white. It sounds like Felix needed a much better sports agent to negotiate such clauses. Serena Williams had a child and her Nike endorsements rolled on unaffected. The tennis champ even narrated a “dream crazier” advert solely looking at women in sport.

Is Felix’s 70% haircut anything more than Nike’s endorsement team taking a view on her future performance when it comes to which brand ambassadors will keep driving sales? It must have made a judgement call that Felix was past her prime. If we looked at all the females sponsored by Nike, what rank is she within the long list of names? Usain Bolt hung up his golden boots at age 30.

It is unclear how many millions that Felix received from Nike every year. Sponsorship is slightly different from employment. There are lots of caveats in sports contracts which ensure that athletes behave responsibly “outside” the game to reflect the values of the organisation. One might feel some pity that the choice to have a child ruined her contract terms but Nike has not done anything illegal.

It is unlikely that any two Nike superstar endorsement contracts are the same. Michael Jordan ended up with his own brand within Nike. Undoubtedly he was paid better than an up and coming college NFL star. It is most likely that Serena Williams’ contract had many different term and conditions to Allyson Felix. If Felix signed her contract she took on all of the legalities within it, including the fine print. Unlike an employment contract, sponsorships terms can change on a whim.

The Nike sponsorship Rolodex is undoubtedly littered with stars – male and female – in their 30s, re-contracted at far lower rates than when they were in their prime. Felix wouldn’t be alone. Age, rather than maternity was probably the bigger driver for the Nike decision makers. The world of sports is brutal. Unless one is a Valentino Rossi of MotoGP fame, a Roger Federer/Serena Williams in tennis or an Usain Bolt in track & field, ongoing sponsorship tends to fade as these stars get put out to pasture.

Yet we are not Nike and we do not have the full facts of how it grants its limited marketing dollars. Perhaps we should ask why Adidas or Puma aren’t beating a path to Felix’s door to contract her and get some mileage out of the controversy? Nike knows the endorsement field probably better than most. The risk of her defection is minimal at best, therefore, Nike can drive hard bargains. Take it or leave it.