The only corporate sponsorship story anyone’s been talking about lately involves Tiger Woods.
But the golf phenom wasn’t the only one seeing his list of sponsors shrink last year.
A Chicago firm said that for the first time in the 25 years that it’s been tracking sponsorship, the amount spent by North American companies declined. IEG L.L.C. estimates that companies spent $16.51 billion in 2009, down $100 million, or 0.6 percent, from 2008.
Double-digit growth rates have been common in the sponsorship game over the last decade. Spending rose 11.4 percent between 2007 and 2008, for example. And IEG forecasts that it will bounce back in 2010 to $17.08 billion, a 3.4 percent rise.
“Game” is certainly apt when talking about sponsorship, because sports sopped up $11.28 billion in spending in 2009. Led by the National Football League, the four major professional sports generated sponsorship revenue of $2.12 billion in 2009, down a bit from $2.21 billion in 2008.
But in the Philadelphia area, we’re probably less concerned about whether the Eagles lost a corporate sponsor than whether the Mummers picked up one.
According to IEG, spending on sponsorship of festivals, fairs and annual events nationwide grew by a slim 0.4 percent to $756 million in 2009.
While I don’t love a parade, I do appreciate the fondness people have for traditions like the Mummers, whose march went off without a weather-related or financial hitch on Friday.
It’s a remarkable outcome given the level of panic that ensued last year, when the City of Philadelphia announced it would no longer ante up more than $300,000 in prize money and charge organizers hundreds of thousands more for various costs.
I expected more anxiety this year, but remarkably, all was calm, if not very transparent. The Mummers’ corporate sponsors include Crown Holdings, Independence Blue Cross, Peco Energy, Sunoco and Tasty Baking. Comcast was the title sponsor for the myPHL17 broadcast of the parade.
And the Mummers also got help from a small business with Philadelphia roots - the Bacon Brothers band, featuring actor Kevin Bacon and his brother, Michael, who held a “Save the Mummers” benefit concert in December.
So the Mummers were saved once again. But don’t think for a moment that we’ve seen the end of financial crises with local parades and other events, such as the Philadelphia International Championship bike race and the Dad Vail Regatta.
Are there enough corporate sponsors locally to support them all? Maybe, but remember that adage about not putting all your eggs in one basket.
If these events are truly “world-class,” organizers should be able to persuade more brand-names from outside the region to sponsor them.
If they’re more of a local diversion, the potential pool is much smaller, and it’s probably a good idea not to wait until a month before the event to start asking for a check.