A couple days ago the Philadelphia Union, my hometown's MLS squad, announced Bimbo Bakeries USA as their official jersey sponsor. In pro soccer, jersey sponsorship is a huge thing. And Union execs are quick to point out that it's a pretty big deal for them, too. But is it a good thing?
The deal, at a reported $12 million over 4 years, ain't bad. That's for sure. For the coffers of the Union, it's money in the bank. No waiting for ticket sales. Concessions. Nope, it's Dinero Hoy. Today Money. (Yes, save your politically correct hearts, Bimbo is headquartered in Mexico)
This "business bent"(like Beckham?) isn't the usual subject matter here, but as you may know, I own Team Sports Planet, a company that, amongst other things, sells decorated soccer jerseys. So it's well within my bailiwick.
Almost any business entity is well-served by cash in advance (some here) and still more guaranteed over time (the check's, figuratively speaking, in the mail). And Manchester United, the Union ain't. (There's only one!) So what's the problem?
It starts with the not so proverbially "300lb. Bimbo in the Room".
The "political correctness" question is one better handled by others (as my use of bad "Spanglish" above demonstrates). But let's just agree that ""Words mean something."
Just Google the word Bimbo. I guess you'd eventually find something about the sponsor and their baked products. But, uh....I got distracted. (Google Images is even more, uh, problematic.)
Some company's products have defined a category (see Google, Xerox, FedEx). But no matter how much Bimbo spends it will NEVER re-define "Bimbo". Not gonna happen. Never has. FYI: The company name is NOT Spanish or even Mexican in origin. Allegedly it was a coined by some marketing genius who grafted "Bingo" with "Bambi". (What was he/she smoking?)
But back to the deal. Is it even the best one that could have been made. Even with the same exact corporate partner? Is it a Brand marketing mistake?
Bimbo bakeries manufactures many very familiar brand name products (Entenmanns, Stroehmann, even, surprisingly Thomas' English Muffins).
And they are reportedly interested in buying financially troubled regional (as in Philly) Tastykakes. So why not use one of them? Why, instead, do they want to shove "Bimbo" down our throats? (Insert salacious joke here)
Whatever the rationale, I gotta say it's bone-headed. Bimbo ain't going nowhere. We know what one is and we like it. Or hate it. But we ain't willing to replace it, for sure. The smarter play: Buy Tastycakes (their products completely ROCK for those that have not had the pleasure); then launch nationally (national signage is part of their deal with the Union & MLS), with Tastycakes. (I admit some "cultural bias as a Philly native).
On another point: Is the deal short sighted? You'd have to say "maybe". But to a business entity as fragile as any MLS team in today's economy, I'd honestly reply "Tomorrow is promised to no one." So "Yes" and "So what"?
As to the question: Will it detract from other revenues streams (namely, jersey sales)? On the aesthetic front alone, the combo of the two designs is utterly horrific. IMHO it takes an average at best looking jersey and adds a diametrically opposed(in graphical sensibility) logo, making for an ugly mess of a jersey. It would be UNFIT TO SHIP if it came out my company's production department. It's --unquestionably-- terrible.
On to the fans. Who? What? Okay, the people who are supposed to BUY these newly befouled jerseys. I'm not sure if MLS shares the revenues from ALL jersey sales with each team or if the teams (who benefit in either scenario) retain sole possession of their squad's jerseys. (If someone knows please tell) . But you gotta figure that the net result of the Bimbo sponsorship is a lose-lose for the fans (and the Union) as to team jersey sales. What GIRL or WOMAN would put on a god-awful ugly shirt with the ugly logo spelling out "Bimbo"?!?! This is kinda cute:
What PARENT buys this for their kid? What GUY wants to don this piece of crap? I will be STUNNED if this lose-lose scenario is ever ADMITTED by team execs; but I ASSURE you the deal will send jersey sales into the toilet.
Lastly, how does this thing play out long term? Does the deal ruin the brand "Philadelphia Union"?
Well, I honestly HATED the name to begin with. As a Philadelphia businessman. Why? Because our town, quite reasonably, has a negative perception as a place to DO business. Why? The UNIONS. Not the team. The actual unions that hold the business development back in the Stone Age. You'd think it was 1950 the way union leaders in this town blather on. The money that is lost when businesses choose to NOT set up in Philly because the cost of union construction, litigation, pay scales and, yes, intimidation. Who needs all that when the suburbs of Philly are a stone's throw away? (Even Bimbo Bakeries USA is in the SUBURBS!)
So yeah, in short, two wrongs don't make a right.