Dragging Marketing Down the Bowl

NCAA Football Sells Out Like a Champ

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Peter Madden Peter Madden
Want to make me care less about an athletic championship? Then please strap a giant title sponsor to said contest. And no one does it better (in terms of money) or worse (in terms of diluting any import of said contest) than NCAA Football.

And it's all our fault.

We're the marketers. We're the ones that try to figure out how to squeeze a dollar out of every square millimeter of potential brand exposure. But isn't there a limit? Even the Super Bowl (am I even allowed to use those hallowed words without a license from the NFL?) can put on the biggest show on earth without calling it the Old Spice Super Bowl.

Not the NCAA. Man, if you have the bucks, they'll give you the run of the show.

The FedEx Orange Bowl, the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, the Allstate Sugar Bowl. Or, everyone's favorite: The Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. The Rose Bowl, which in a dignified move for our industry, subtly lists Citi as a "presenting sponsor" (golf applause please for Citi). Is it me, or does that make the very contests just downright hilarious. Could these Bowls still really have meaning to the players?

Wouldn't it mean something more if those title sponsors were booted? Instead of going for the gold, they're going for the chips that are strong enough to handle any dip.

I doubt if any of the people on the field playing or coaching in each of the noted games, whether Sugar, Orange, or Fiesta, ever mention the sponsor. Can't you see the coach in the locker room trying to get the team amped up for the big game: "Come on guys! We need to get mentally and physically prepared for the biggest day of your lives, brought to you by an insurance company that undoubtedly has you in good hands!"

Don't think so.

And seeing any of these sponsors stomp all over historic bowls doesn't exactly endear me to any of their brands.

Isn't there a smarter way to do this without shoving it down our throats and getting in the way of the spirit of the contest in the first place? I'm sure anyone involved will advise me that it's great for brand recognition, eyeballs, etc.

Meanwhile I had to look up what "BCS" actually meant (yes, I watch enough of the news and sports that this shouldn't be the case). That system is so flawed, it's hard to explain. They hold all of these contests but poll sports writers to ultimately decide who is No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3.

They should borrow a clue from the NCAA's March Madness, where there is a true champion. And at last glance, the logos for both the men's and women's Final Four didn't have a title sponsor. Most of the emphasis on each seemed to be on the city in which the championships are played.
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