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Thursday, 24 February, 2000, 15:43 GMT
Sponsorship can add real spice

Cornhill Test match
Did Cornhill end up as winners?

The legal action against the Spice Girls by scooter manufacturer Aprilia illustrates the potential pitfalls of sponsorship.

The company claimed their 500,000 deal turned into a flop when Geri Halliwell left the group.

Aprilia had launched a special edition Spice Sonic scooter with a silhouette of all five girls on it.

The more advanced sponsors will have a morality clause
Richard Busby
This tie-up is not the first example of a marketing deal turning sour.

Madonna was dropped from an $8m Pepsi campaign over the allegedly blasphemous video for her Like a Prayer single.

Footballer Stan Collymore lost a lucrative boot deal with Diadora after assaulting Ulrika Jonsson.

And Paul Gascoigne was dropped by Adidas after allegedly wearing a rival's boots.

Shane Warne Shane Warne: No smoke without ire
Last week Australian cricketer Shane Warne was involved in an incident after being photographed smoking - he is sponsored by the maker of anti-smoking products.

Richard Busby of consultants BDS Sponsorship says any deals should be governed by watertight contracts.

"Pop groups do split up, in which case there should be a case for non-delivery by them," he explains.

"Then there can be problems with arrests for drug-taking or lewd behaviour. The more advanced sponsors will have a morality clause which makes the contract null and void if there is any breach."

Mr Busby says there will always be a certain risk in linking up with young celebrities, but companies should not be deterred.

Spice Girls with Polaroid The Spice Girls' deal with Polaroid worked well
"You have to understand that these are very young people who have their own ideas about how things are done and they haven't got a lot of business experience," he says.

But there can be very profitable relationships.

"Polaroid had sponsored the Spice Girls the year before and it was very successful - their sales went up enormously."

Sponsoring a team or a league rather than an individual might seem safer, but it can also run into trouble.

FA Cup sonsors AXA might well have been aggrieved when the tournament's biggest attraction, Manchester United, pulled out of this season's competition.

Nationwide Building Society, then sponsor of the England football team, made its feelings known during the row over manager Glenn Hoddle's comments about disabled people. He was subsequently sacked.

And it could be argued that Cornhill Insurance received little return for its patient support of England's cricketers during the leanest of lean spells - it gave up in December after 22 years.

Viewers vexed

But Richard Busby disagrees. "I think Cornhill did very well out of it because they picked up the sponsorship quite cheaply and their awareness level shot up. They got real value for money," he says.

Bottle of Becks Becks withdrew its TV sponsorship
Other fields can be equally treacherous. The adverts which accompanied Ericsson's sponsorship of Frasier on Channel 4 brought howls of protest from irritated viewers.

And when Becks withdrew sponsorship of Channel 4 drama during the controversial Queer As Folk series - citing a reallocation of global budgets - gay viewers responded by boycotting the beer.

Some commercial marriages can be made in heaven. For others to work, the most important thing can be the wording of the contract.

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See also:
24 Feb 00 |  Entertainment
Spice Girls lose legal battle
08 Dec 99 |  Business
Reebok quits Sydney Olympics
22 Dec 99 |  Cricket
Cornhill pull plug on England
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