Give me my money back, Give me my money back, you b*tch, I want my money back
(And don’t forget to give me back my black T-Shirt)
– ben folds
So in the sports world, this is the story that keeps on giving. Did he or didn’t he? Will he fess up or won’t he? If he’s considering fessing up, well, that’s sort of like fessing up right? It’s like that bit from the old Muppet show, “It’s the story of a quack who’s gone to the dogs”. Now don’t get me wrong, I actually am pretty supportive of Lance Armstrong.. it’s the soap opera that makes me laugh. People just love taking others down. It’s a popular past-time that makes us all look bad. But really, the question I have has to do with his past sponsors who are suing to get their money back… Really?
Buried in the news stories of the Armstrong saga are the mention of various sponsors who want their money back. I understand most of them, especially if they were still giving him cash. Sponsorship is really a simple concept.. We give you stuff, people like you, they buy our stuff because you use it. Ideally, the sponsor makes a lot more in sales than they ever gave away. In fact, giving someone gear is much cheaper than traditional advertising. Sponsorship is often a no-brainer for gear companies. Of course, when you’re just handing out cash, it’s certainly a bit trickier. The thing about suing Lance to get that money back, begs the question.. Did the sponsor get what they paid for? And when did they get the real “bang” for their sponsorship buck?
Of course, big time sponsorships are much more complex than say “kayaking” deals. Still logic says that you make the most return leading up to, during and right after the event. If a company sponsored Lance in 2004 for example.. You’d think that they made most of their return in 2004-2005. Sure, they will do some residual sales for years to come, but the “hit” had to be right when they were most involved. I’d have to guess they got what they paid for. Certainly, that watch I bought in 2001 because Lance Armstrong had one didn’t suddenly feel dirty on my wrist in 2011. (Well, I actually didn’t buy anything that he used.. he’s just not an “influencer” in my world. Sorry Lance!) Still, you get the point. Why would a company think they were screwed in the deal years later? The Athletes influence only holds while their rockin’ your product. They help get folks into the store.. Once that purchase has been made, their job is done. It just sounds like a pile-on cash grab to me. And frankly, if you’re one of those companies that are being named in every current article about the Armstrong debacle because you want your money back, you’re getting free promotion right now.. and not the good kind.
I’m sure there are all sorts of details that we don’t know about, and I’m sure some companies had long-term provisos and expectations. They may have legitimately been screwed. But for the most part, past sponsors know what they paid for and most were probably paid back in spades.
Let me be clear. If Lance Armstrong did use drugs, he should expect what he’s getting, but most of his sponsors probably got what they expected as well.
.. and for some reason here’s Ben Folds