Friday, August 24, 2012

A note from the Dept. of That Would Be A 'No'

The reason I check out every day is, they do a lot of actual journalism. Like, think up story ideas and investigate leads. Today, I see that they filed a Freedom of Information Act request that allowed them to learn how much the National Guard paid to sponsor Roger Hayden at Michael Jordan Motorsports. I mean, who even thought of that? "Hey, let's file a Freedom of Information Act request..."? Seriously, what a great idea.

The short answer is, they paid $2.25 million. Read the whole story here:

Now, what's interesting to me is, that the National Guard claims that it got $32,000,000 worth of exposure in exchange for that $2.25M investment. This is where, unlike Roadracing World, which is scrupulous with its research and always backs everything up with independently verifiable facts, as a blogger I am free to just say, "Bullshit."

I do come by it honestly, at least. You see, I spent about 20 years in the ad business. And I'm here to tell you that there are ways to measure the value of exposure, and although neither the National Guard nor I have tried to use those techniques to measure the value of National Guard's motorcycle sponsorship I KNOW THAT IT DOESN'T COME CLOSE TO THIRTY MILLION BUCKS. For that money, you could conduct a legitimate national advertising campaign.

Look, I'm on the road this week. I don't have access to my 'real' computer and high speed internet, and I really don't have the time or energy to research a few examples of recent $30M campaigns. Just trust me on this; I could find such examples, and my point here is, you'd recognize them. Thirty million dollars, spent professionally, would raise awareness for your product or service (or politician, this year) across a broad swath of the American population. You'd measure the effectiveness of that ad investment by surveying the target audience and determining things like unaided and aided awareness of your brand/product/claim.

If you focused $30M on a much narrower segment of the population, like the tiny slice of guys interested in motorcycle road racing, you would expect to completely OWN a HUGE chunk of their 'mindshare'. Let me tell you what $30M worth of exposure is worth, focused on males 18-24: If the National Guard got $30M value in that demographic, the National Guard logo would be as prevalent on their clothing as 'Affliction' is.

You'll rarely meet anyone more skeptical than I am, when it comes to believing that private enterprise, in a free market system, is a really efficient way to allocate resources. After those 20 years in the ad business, I've seen behind the curtain at too many companies to believe that entrepreneurs and businessmen have cornered the market on acumen. But if you could spend $2M on an AMA Superbike sponsorship and reap $30M in exposure, there'd be all kinds of businesses fighting over riders who currently go completely unsponsored. The truth is that the audience for motorcycle road racing in the U.S. is so small there is simply no way to deliver $30M in value.

I'd like nothing more than to be able to prove that sponsoring AMA Pro riders was so dramatically effective. But wherever the National Guard got those figures -- from Michael Jordan Motorsports? -- I'm sorry to say they're obviously bullshit.


  1. just another waste of my tax dollars...

  2. I don't think that the money was necessarily a complete waste. I'm just saying that it was certainly not *that* good an investment. I imagine that a good chunk of the real value of the sponsorship accrued internally, making people who'd already signed up for the Guard feel better about having done so. Since motorsport attracts a young male audience, military recruiters have long sponsored teams/riders/drivers. I don't want that to change, but I don't think that ridiculous claims like, "we got $30M in value" actually support that case. That claim just makes us all seem like bullshitters.