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At breakfast
it didn’t seem quite right to comment on what
had actually gone on in my room last night, what
with Ann and Jeffrey so serious and asking what
we usually did with our afternoons and Paul and what
was that girl’s name laughing at the news of the world somewhat
childishly so I wondered if they’d guessed and what
would happen if I just came right out with it.

At lunch
after the usual shopping and the usual chaos about
who was supposed to be going out about
three but wouldn’t make it again I thought about
that unusual happening and how it came about
and considered being quite frank and open about
it and even said in a slightly roundabout
way that we’d quite enjoyed our evening.

At dinner
timing it perfectly I thought determined to let them know
what an event had happened under our roof, know
as it were, how near they were to the big event, and I know
they usually like to be kept informed, I don’t quite know
how but I said it right out: told them that now I know
at least one person who can beat me at chess; and I don’t know
why but they were still laughing to themselves

At supper.

 

 

May 1969

 

 

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Filed under Humour, My poems, Poetry

The NRA and the power of ‘unsponsorship’

While sponsorship is often a powerful force in producing positive attitudes towards a particular brand or organisation, its benefits are entirely proportional to the perceived attributes of the sponsored organisation or individual.

Commercial sponsorship is all about associations. The sponsor spends money on buying into a selected audience’s positive attitudes towards the sponsored party. Being seen to sign up as a supporter of, say, a popular sports team or athlete can generate enormous warmth and gratitude towards the sponsor.

But, as owner/MD of The UK Sponsorship Database since its launch in May 2000, I’ve noticed that very often the reverse is also true. Where, for instance, a world-famous athlete or sports person is suddenly unmasked as a drug cheat or wife-beater, existing sponsors who withdraw their support typically attract very favourable media coverage. Conversely, those who stick by the offending party may well suffer negative coverage. There will always be those who appreciate a sponsor who shows loyalty through thick and thin; but by and large there are far greater gains to be made by the positive act of ‘unsponsoring’.

Indeed, ‘unsponsorship’ can often have benefits which outweigh the positive associations of the initial deal.

A sponsorship deal typically creates a virtuous circle – the more the sponsored party succeeds in his, her or its field, the more sought-after said party becomes in the eyes of competing sponsors seeking an association with that kind of success and those perceptions. But, on the other other hand, those who are associated with bad publicity – ‘negative vibes’ – are typically dropped almost instantly by most sponsors who fear that their image will be tainted or even shattered. And the market reflects that fall in value, as the negotiating power of the sponsored party is undermined.

In the case of the NRA, for companies who (for instance) offer discounts to NRA members, the option of withdrawing support provides a very positive unsponsorship opportunity – a chance to be seen by many as taking the moral high ground. Whilst their previous loyalty might have been taken for granted, as they passively added their offering to a list of NRA members’ benefits, their decision to unsponsor the organisation puts them very much in the public spotlight at a time of intense political debate. Whilst their withdrawals will no doubt offend NRA loyalists intensely, amongst a broad spectrum of the public they may well be seen as having made a laudable, morality-based decision.

At the time of writing, according to press reports the list of companies who have withdrawn their support from the NRA (many of whom are also sponsors across a wide range of sporting and other activities), is growing rapidly and includes Alamo Rent a Car, Avis, Allied Van Lines, BestWestern, Budget, Chubb Insurance, Delta Air Lines, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, First National Bank of Omaha, Hertz, MetLife, North American Van Lines, Paramount Rx, SimpliSafe, Symantec and TrueCar.

Amongst the companies who continue to align themselves with the NRA are Bass Pro Shops, BlackRock, Clearent, FedEx, HotelPlanner, ManageUrID, MidwayUSA, NetSpend, Omni Hotels and Vinesse Wine Clubs.

So here we have a highly-charged and quite complex interplay between commerce and morality, with a “chain sponsorship” structure, involving companies who sponsor the NRA which then sponsors politicians. Different companies may take very different decisions. Politics aside, there will be a wide range of moral and commercial considerations to take into account.

From a commercial standpoint, the main question will be whether the benefit of withdrawing will outweigh the cost in terms of causing offence to NRA members. From a moral standpoint, of course, the individuals involved in the companies’ decisions may conclude that any negative effect is a price worth paying.

   

 

Image credits: NRA Headquarters Virginia USA – Bjoertvedt; Northwest side of the Delta Center – Paul Kucher; other – public domain.

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Filed under Politics, Society, Sponsorship