Nick Evershed of The Guardian on Sports Sponsorship Gone Too Far

By Paul Birdwell (

Nick Evershed of the Guardian newspaper in England has hit on something that is always on our minds here at the Roaring Fork Agency and is something that anyone running an event should be keeping uppermost in their minds as well as they think about and are selling sponsorships and that is having too many sponsors and sponsorship opportunities that overwhelm and dominate the actual event.


Sport sponsorship has gone too far, Nick Evershed, The Guardian

“After watching the Qantas Wallabies play the Lions at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night, I caught up with the Bulldogs and Knights game on Sunday. During the match at Virgin Australia Stadium, a contentious try was reviewed by the video referee and announced on the KFC decision screen. I then watched the try replayed on the Great Wall video replay.

Have you noticed? There are five brand names in this paragraph.

I would hazard a guess that sponsorship and advertising around sports events is higher than it's ever been. It’s worth big money: a report out in June 2013 found sport sponsorship in Australia is worth around US$735m per year.

Tom Waterhouse-style saturation advertising aside, we are bombarded with brands in areas that were previously virgin territory. I imagine sports codes have people whose sole job it is to sit around and think of things that aren’t sponsored, and for which they can sell sponsorship for. Perhaps the urinals at the MCG could be brought to you after a quick message from our sponsor?”

YES, there can be too many sponsors and too much sponsorship of an event and it is vitally important for event managers to strike a reasonable and prudent balance between generating significant revenues to pull-off a first-rate event and having so many sponsors and sponsorship opportunities that the sponsors and the message the sponsors are working overtime to deliver become the dominate theme of the event.

There is no sure-fire formula that an event manager can use to determine is his or her event is becoming dominated by sponsors and sponsor messages, but anyone with common sense can use the “Potter Stewart” test as it relates too much sponsorship which is the below phrase that US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart used in the case Jacobellis vs. Ohio when determining if something was pornographic or not:

“I know it when I see it.”


YES, any event manager or sponsorship sales agency that uses the “Potter Stewart” test for overexposure of sponsors at an event and can easily see when there are too many sponsors that are overwhelming the event itself and even sometimes on the flipside when there are too few sponsors that isn’t allowing the event to generate enough revenue to make the event a success.

As in life a good “balance” between too many and too few sponsors and sponsorship opportunities is what is needed at events and we here at the Roaring Fork Agency stand ready to work with events around the United States and Canada to help them secure corporate sponsorship for their event and to also make sure the event has the right mix and number of sponsors and sponsorship opportunities to make the event a Win-Win for everyone involved.  

If you have any questions about event sponsorship or venue naming rights contact the Roaring Fork Agency at:

San Francisco, California – 415 730 – 4854

Seattle, Washington – 206 717 – 4854

Bend, Oregon – 541 237 – 8080

Twitter - @RoaringForkAgcy