Last month Philadelphia Magazine published an article on the apparent demise of a beloved and significant bicycle race in Philadelphia that had been on international calendars.
The race has a special place in my heart because it was my first foray into corporate sponsorship. I negotiated a sponsorship on behalf of a client, a sporting goods store launching a store four times larger than their original location and looking to significantly expand their visibility. That was back in 1986, and as far as I know, the store is still going strong.
The story recounted in the magazine is problematic for several reasons, but here's the main one. The writer asserts that the reason the event is moribund is because it hasn't found a $1 million title sponsor willing to "pony up" the money.
First, no corporation should ever "pony up."
And worse, the aspirations of the race producers sound like silver-bullet thinking.
Events need business models and multiple streams of revenue. Sponsorship programs need strategies, not a fairy godmother waving a magic wand and delivering a $1 million pot of gold.
The bike race needs to focus on creating value for multiple sponsors not chasing pipe dreams and demanding that politicians use influence.
Evidently the bike race's business model doesn't work. Until they resolve this issue, sponsorship will remain a fantasy.