Cycling Sponsor Gets Warm and Fuzzy
Most times a sponsor bails when scandal hits. Instead Saxo Bank did something else.
In the past when there's a doping scandal the sponsors are making for the door like the building is on fire. Floyd Landis' Phonak sponsor was gone by the end of the year. T-Mobile, Milram, Gerolsteiner pulled their corporate sponsorship when things started to go sideways for them. Not a coincidence those teams are German, a nation that takes a rather harsh view on doping in cycling.
And to be fair to Phonak, it is owned by cycling's sugar daddy Andy Rihs, who resurrected the squad using another company he owns a stake in, BMC bikes, so it could be argued that while the name had changed the ownership had not. However, that formation started off slow until it has grown into the Tour de France winning team you see now.
But you have to wonder, much like Joe Lindsey did in his Boulder Report column a couple of years back - Is Andy Rihs cursed? After Phonak, there was Astana, and now BMC, which has had a couple of their riders temporarily suspended for involvement in a doping scandal - of which they were eventually cleared. But then you have BMC team rider Thomas Frei who admitted to micro-dosing EPO and a soigneur, that the squad states was just a part-time staff member, taken into custody after his house was raided and the authorities discovered doping equipment and syringes. Through all of this there was no talk of the team disbanding.
On the other side of the coin is Liberty Seguros. They dropped their support in May, 2006 when it was discovered that team manager Manolo Saiz was involved in Operation Puerto. So why do some sponsors stay and others bail?
As with most things it's due to money. A doping scandal is the kiss of death when it comes to publicity. Who wants their good corporate name attached to something that is seen as shady? Hence T-Mobile, Gelosteiner, etc. pulled the plug. Yet the Danish bank placed a full page newspaper ad backing Contador. Here's why.
Stating the obvious, times are tough for many people. Yesterday I was reading that in Southern California 44% of homeowners are "underwater" - owing more on their house than what its actual value is. Towns have been ravaged by foreclosures. And it's just not here in the U.S. As a result people look at the banks as the enemy just waiting for the moment to screw them over and toss them out of their home.
Instead, Saxo Bank places this warm and fuzzy ad that's basically saying, "Hey, we all know no one's perfect and we all make mistakes. But guess what? We're still here for you." Wow, whoever created that campaign was a genius. So now we have this image of a faceless corporate entity that isn't quite so callous and only interested in the bottom line. They care about people and are willing to stick with them through thick and thin. Plus, Saxo Bank has many conveniently located ATMs, so that's a good thing too.
End of the day Team Crotch