Monday, January 02, 2012

Be Sure To Get Your Money's Worth

We drove home from Ohio on Tuesday, buzzing through the lake effect snow of northern Indiana with minimal breaks. We made it in plenty of time to watch the first bowl game of the day, the Pizza Pizza Bowl. During a commercial for the second game (the Belk Bowl), I said, hey, we'll get to find out what a "Belk" is! TM chuckled and said she thought it might be a department store.

But the point stuck with me: what the hell is a Belk? And why do they sponsor a bowl game?

Sponsoring a bowl game probably costs a lot of money. (And if it doesn't, get ready for the TMMPF Bowl in December 2012!) A company should expect to get its money worth by getting its name in front of hundreds of thousands watching at home nationwide. And some of these companies are wasting their money by putting their name on something that just confuses the hell out of their target audience (me and other football fans).

The drive home from Ohio. Once again cute Franklin (and Quigley) makes an appearance in a post that has nothing to do with kitties.

So with TM's encouragement I decided to rate all the bowls by the wisdom of their sponsporships. The actual bowl name, when applicable, is in parentheses.

Tostitos (Fiesta)
AT&T (Cotton)
Discover (Orange)
Capital One
Allstate (BCS National Championship, Sugar)
Hyundai (Sun)
AutoZone (Liberty)

These are the smartest of the 34 sponsors (there are 35 bowl games; Allstate has two). At the top of the list are broad, nationally recognized names that consumers use or see nearly every day: tortilla chips, credit cards, insurance, telecommunications, cars, restaurants. AutoZone is at the bottom of the first tier because while it is a nationally known chain, it does not have the name recognition or frequency of Outback Steakhouse or AT&T. And while I hate hate HATE the Capital One ads, I must acknowledge it is logical for them to get their name on a bowl.

Meineke Car Care
Champs Sports
New Era (Pinstripe)
Vizio (Rose)
Sheraton (Hawaii)

The next tier contains solid names that align with the demographic: a lesser known sports bar chain (Ed: Champps is a sports bar. Champs Sports sells athletic gear. That just proves my point), a ballcap maker, a TV maker, a hotel chain. Vizio should maybe be lower because I don't know if people know what Vizio is (I think it's a software for making flow charts) but at least they are trying to get in front of guys who buy TVs. Same for sports bars clothing and ballcaps. And if you're wondering why AutoZone gets the top rank and Meineke does not, it is because they are intentionally confusing me the fan by moving their bowl almost 1,000 miles but keeping the same name.

And whatever happened to George Foreman ads in the Meineke bowl?

Beef 'O' Brady's (St. Petersburg)
Little Caesars Pizza
Valero (Alamo)
MAACO (Las Vegas)

We're starting to get into questionable territory here. Little Ceasars should be higher ... after all, they are a well-known brand with a product people eat all the time. But they insist on calling it the "Little Caesars Pizza Bowl" which sounds like a disgusting product on their menu. I can only imagine the marketing executive working with his kitchen guys on creating a pizza bowl. (TM and I envision a bowl of crust, like a bread-bowl for soup, with all the ingredients piled in ... essentially, an open-faced calzone, but again, we do NOT want to see this come to market.)

This shitty idea has happened before, people. Let's not have it happen again.

Valero (gasoline) and Ticket City (online ticket reseller) are trying to get their names out there. At least Ticket City had the sense to not slap a "dotcom" at the end of their name. Beef "O" Brady should be punished on the simple grounds of having a stupid name, but at least I think they are more national than regional. And Maaco? Does anyone my age or younger remember "Uh oh, better call Maaco?" More to the point: there are still Maacos in business?

Kraft Fight Hunger
Famous Idaho Potato

We're into borderline stupid territory. Only the more blatantly stupid transgressors of the next category make these guys look halfway decent by comparison:

First up are and With Taxslayer, I can guess at the purpose: tax prep. And, yes, it is tax prep season, so this kind of makes sense. However, in a world with H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt and Turbo Tax, I am not going to trust my finances to a website that makes me think of knights and dragons. As for how many people are ever going to register a website domain, and how many of them are too dumb to go to Network Solutions?

Famous Idaho Potato: The best line I read leading up to this game was, someone asked "is the potato famous, or the bowl game?" As for Insight: I am in favor of intangible concepts, as long as they are patriotic like Independence or Liberty. I don't have a clue why I should feel perceptive or clever during a bowl game.

A Kraft Foods bowl: I'd buy that. A bowl that slaps Kraft's name onto a verb and noun? No.

San Diego County Credit Union (Poinsettia)
Franklin American Mortgage (Music City)
Northrop-Grumann (Military)
R & L Carriers (New Orleans)
Bridgepoint Education (Holiday)
Bell Helicopter (Armed Forces)

These are stupid for two reasons: usage and geography. When was the last time you bought a helicopter? How about a spy satellite? Or hired a trucking company (not a moving company) to transport shipments across country? Your average viewer doesn't give a shit about these three because it's not relevant to daily life.

Franklin American, while having a kitty-friendly and patriotic name, is stupid for the same reason the financial companies are at the top of the list: what is the point of this bowl if I can't find or walk into a Franklin American branch? And doesn't the housing market suck right now? And how do I find a Bridgeport Education? Do I have to go to the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago? Isn't that inconvenient for everyone in America? (Even when I lived in Wrigleyville I wouldn't go to Bridgeport for anything.) (Okay, the fact that I thought it was called Bridgeport, not Bridgepoint, should be enough for them to reassess their name recognition.)

And to the San Diego County Credit Union: I love football. But I can't be a customer of yours. Do you know why? Because I don't fricking live in San Diego! Just like almost EVERYONE ELSE IN THE COUNTRY watching your football game. Buy a billboard on I-5.

AdvoCare V100 (Independence)
Gildan (New Mexico)
BBVA Compass

Can anyone say what or who AdvoCare V100 is? I will concede it sounds like a brand of gasoline. But do you know for sure? Shouldn't a gasoline COMPANY sponsor the bowl? It's not like CapOne has the "Platinum Credit Card" bowl or Outback has the "10 ounce New York Strip" bowl.

BBVA Compass: I was so puzzled I broke down and used Wikipedia to look it up.

Gildan and Belk: Well, we watched the bowl and TM was right, it's a Southern department store. Good for them ... does nothing for us customers in 34 of the 50 states where there isn't a Belk.

Now THIS is top-notch customer marketing. (click to read detail)

By the way, as I was going through the list, I realized there is no Bowl anymore. This would have ranked between good and medium, because it is for a consumer product, but it's stupid to name a bowl after your website if you have a physical store or thing.

In conclusion: there are already too many bowls as it is. Let's lop off the bottom five or 10, since those sponsors are wasting their money. Ford, Verizon Wireless and JPMorgan Chase: come on down.

No comments: