Sponsorships are funny business. Sure, it’s swell to have your company’s name attached to a tournament or halftime show or a boxer’s sweaty back, but you never really know what you’re getting in return.
Take FedEx. What percentage of avid golf fans do you suppose know that the mail carrier is the title sponsor of the PGA Tour’s season-long points race and four-tournament playoff series (an avid fan being someone who looks up Tour scores several times a week, watches at least 11 tournaments per year and has a favorite player)?
Seventy-five percent? Not even close. Fifty? Nope. Try a mere 30 percent, according to an eye-opening survey published in a recent issue of Street & Smith’s SportBusiness Journal (you can’t access the story online unless you’re a subscriber).
That figure sounds shockingly low to me, and even more shocking is the fact that 4 percent of avid fans think that Nike sponsors the Tour's playoffs and another 3.5 percent give credit to Coca-Cola. Hey, at least they didn’t say UPS.
The good news for FedEx — which reportedly spent tens of millions on the sponsorship deal — is that it’s actually "enjoying higher awareness levels than many of the Tour’s other partners," the paper reported. Only 17 percent of avid fans, for example, correctly identified MasterCard as the Tour’s official credit card, while more than twice as many thought it was American Express, which doesn't pay the Tour a dime. (Amex did have a 10-year partnership with Tiger Woods, which didn't hurt its golf cred.)
The biggest winner in the survey: AT&T, which 36 percent of avid fans think is the official wireless carrier of the Tour. The kicker: the Tour has no wireless partner.