May 19, 2008

I don't think it means what they think it means

I'll get to why in a second, but I was thinking the other night about corporate sponsorship in sports. A variety of companies spend millions of dollars per year so that they can be considered The Official [product] of the [major sports team or league]. In theory, what this is supposed to say to the average consumer is that the team or league in question has a relationship with that product in such a way that the people who work or play for that organization would choose that particular product over its competition generally.

Most of the time, I don't think too much of this. I think that Popeye's, for example, is the Official Fried Chicken of the Redskins (or maybe it's the Wizards). And if they want to pay a bunch of money for that title, fine. And honestly, I suppose that I can imagine a guy like Clinton Portis, were he possessed of a craving for fried chicken, might very well decide that Popeye's is the place to go to get it. It's entirely possible that Popeye's is better than KFC, and if home cooking isn't available, maybe you make do with fast food. Fine, I can buy that. At that level, it makes sense to me.

What doesn't make sense is when they trot out a product sponsor that you know perfectly well the people being sponsored would never in a million years be caught dead using, let alone endorse. Sometimes the absurdity of it is so glaring, so jarring, that you can't help but notice it, and laugh out loud a little at the notion. This is what happened to me.

I was watching a bit of the NBA playoff coverage, not even really paying attention to the screen at the time, when I heard this: "NBA Shootaround is sponsored by Kia, the Official Automotive Partner of the NBA." Not surprisingly, my ears perked up at that.

Really? The Official Car of the NBA is a Kia?

Quick question: What kind of car does LeBron drive, do you think? Anybody offering odds that it's a Kia? How about Dwayne Wade? Kobe? KG? Shaq? Bueller? Bueller?

Okay, so none of those players are technically employed by the NBA organization; they're players for teams. So let's consider an NBA employee.

David Stern, proud Kia owner. Does that sound likely to you?

Me neither. I'm thinking we'd have to go pretty far down the org chart (or the bench, for that matter) before we're going to find someone whose primary vehicle is a Kia. Or secondary vehicle. Or who would even admit to test-driving one while car shopping. And I'm not suggesting they're bad cars; I'm just saying I've seen a few episodes of Cribs in my time, and let's just say there aren't a whole lot of Spectras parked next to the Escalades and Bentleys.

But that's what they would have you believe. Which is basically the people at Kia (and in the NBA, for that matter) calling me stupid. And I'm not about to put up with that.

Unless they'd like to sponsor me, of course.

May 2, 2008

Cake or death? Cake, please

Tonight, 8pm, DAR Constitution Hall. Someone - and I'm not saying who - will be in attendance. And this person (who will remain anonymous) is pretty sure it's going to be kickass.

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