Perhaps risk is not the first thing that you think of when you start looking at potential sponsorship opportunities for your company but perhaps you should.

BMW has recently apologised for a sponsorship that went horribly wrong. I think it’s a bit strange but Germany’s meteorology institute allows brands to sponsor weather systems. So a well known German company like BMW probably thought it was low risk to sponsor a storm named “Cooper” for its Mini Cooper which BMW manufactures. Unfortunately this very same storm is being blamed for 100 deaths in Poland and Ukraine and BMW has quietly and politely retreated. Interestingly the article I read about it said that the sponsorship deal was arranged by an advertising agency and not a PR agency as is often the case. Perhaps they should have stuck to traditional advertising methods!

There are also other risks that a company needs to consider before embarking on a sponsorship deal with an organisation or individual. In fact I can never understand why organisations expose themselves to so much risk by sponsoring individuals. If that individual does anything that is deemed ‘wrong’ then all your hard work on your brand is blown.

Take for example, the recent storm caused by a stupid comment from swimmer Stephanie Rice on Twitter. I personally think her sponsors should have stood by her because the storm would have blown past in a few days. Within hours Jaguar had dumped her and in the process drew attention to themselves. In fact I didn’t know Jaguar sponsored her and I don’t think that Jaguar and Stephanie Rice were a good fit. What were they thinking with that one?

There is also a risk involved in sponsoring a team or any other collective of individuals because if one of those individuals is seen to be ‘misbehaving’ it can reflect badly on the sponsor.

I’m not suggesting that sponsorship is not a great way to raise a brand’s profile, I just think that few people assess the risks. They don’t see past the glamour and jump in.

So if you are considering sponsorship of any kind make sure your review process includes a full risk assessment. Think about all the things that could go wrong and how you would deal with them. If you come across a risk that is in the ‘likely’ category and you don’t think your reputation could weather it then don’t go ahead with it. However if the risks are low then put some work into preparing how you would handle it and go right ahead.

Nicola Rutzou