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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Whither the Sponsorship?

I was reading the papers when I came across this big advertisement. It caught my attention immediately. One because I always looking at airlines ads for special offer and two, because it has our national marathon runner photo in it.  Turned out it was an announcement by Air Asia that they are supporting Mok Yin Ren in his Olympic quest.


I am happy for Mok that he now has one less worries and can concentrate fully on his training. But at the same time I could not help but note that the sponsor, Air Asia is a Malaysian company. And it makes me sad that none of our local companies are sponsoring him or for that matter, any other local sports athlete. 

I posed this question on my Facebook and I got comments such as no budget, no synergy and already sponsoring other. In a way that is true. SIA has just announced a million dollar sponsorship deal for the F1, OCBC is already sponsoring cycling and even has a Team OCBC which ironically comprises riders of several nationalities. DBS has the river regatta etc. So the sponsorship is mainly for an event or a sports and not an individual per see.

As I pondered over why there are no sponsorship of individuals, I realised that it is not about budget. The cost of sponsorship does not amounts to much, not if the companies are big companies like the telcos, glcs, transport or even property companies. The real reason I guess is that these companies do not see any benefits arising from these sponsorship. To be honest, while I have never been approached to sponsor any athlete, my company have been approached by many organisation to sponsor all sort of projects. Recently, we were asked to sponsor a local national sports event. The cost does not amount to much but after I sat down and work out the sums, I have to regretfully recommend to my Management to not go ahead because I could not justify the investment. I guess most people in charge of such sponsorship approach the situation the same way I does. The first thing we ask ourselves is "What is the benefit to the Company?" and next "What is the return on Investment?". Even if it  is to be treated as a CSR project, we have to look at the intangibles benefits - like the publicity and goodwill from being associated with the program and maybe in the worse case, the tax benefits. And the hard truth is that while there are a lot of benefits being associated with a big project like the F1 or even OCBC Cycle or SCMS like the advertisement and branding, sponsoring an individual or a small event has absolutely no tangible or intangible benefit other than a "feel good, pat on the back" feeling which I can never justify to the board. So sadly even if my company were to be approached to sponsor Mok or Tao Li or other promising local athletes, we will have to turn it down but because there is no way to justify the expenditure.

So is there no hope for our local athletes? In the immediate future, I think no. But hopefully one day, our companies especially the GLCs can take it upon themselves as a "National Service" to sponsor promising local athletes under a special program.  Other way that local companies can support is to employ these athletes and allow them to train full time much like the now defunct SPH program for ex-National footballers. And the government can help by giving tax allowances for such sponsorship. The question is - will we ever see such a day?

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