Without Marketing Will We Have Any Business Left?

Congressman Barney Frank has made a lot of news lately in regards to his criticism of banks that have received federal bailout money such as Northern Trust Bank, moving ahead with sponsoring professional golf events.   Originally, Frank was critical of the sponsorship happening at all, but according to a report by ESPN.com’s Ron Sirak, he has backed down a bit, acknowledging the commitment to maintaining title sponsorship agreements as well as recognizing the charitable impact of such events.  What is still bothering Frank is the hospitality dollars that Northern Trust and other banks on the PGA Tour are spending to entertain customers.

Northern Trust received $1.6 billion in TARP money.  Frank had sent a letter to Northern Trust CEO Frederick Waddell demanding that the bank reimburse the government for the dollars used in marketing the February tournament. Northern Trust indeed pledged to do just that and to closely examine future spending.

Sure perks such as limousines, private concerts and high-end giveaway items to a limited group of patrons is questionable in today’s economic times, especially when they are being doled out by a bank that just received over a billion dollars in government bailout funds.

However, such scrutiny by Congress leads me to wonder just how many other businesses will find their marketing efforts scrutinized by the government?  Will local banks and organizations donating items for charitable silent auctions be questioned?  Should the government-owned AIG, which is rebranding its auto insurance company as 21st Century Insurance, not advertise this new name change? 

These tough economic times cry out for companies to market themselves more than ever before.  In many ways, sports marketing endeavors, like professional golf tournaments, are a way to attract the desired customer base.  Companies like Citigroup looking for mass exposure chose to enter into stadium naming rights deals.  The US Army has major sponsorship platforms across a broad range of professional sports, including the National Hot Rod Association and uses these platforms as a means to recruit.  Should the Army stop advertising at such events?

The last thing this economy needs is for companies to hold off their marketing spends because of fear of being lambasted by the government.

Yes, times are tough. However, sitting on our hands won’t get us moving.  Those companies that received government bailout funding should examine closely how they use those funds from a marketing perspective and apply common sense in determining if those marketing dollars can provide an economic benefit to the company.

Congress too can go a long way to encouraging companies to get off the sidelines.  As billions of dollars are passed through in the guise of economic stimulus, Congress should not discourage companies to pursue the marketing endeavors that help them reach customers.  And, while they’re at it, Congress should cut some of their own perks as a gesture of support.

Tom Cosentino





One Response to “Without Marketing Will We Have Any Business Left?”

  1. Tom Awtry Says:

    Our investments, savings, housing equities, retirement pensions and 401 plans have been relieved of our earned money; but, we know little regarding the facts of “how” and “where” are money went. What’s more unsettling is the simple fact it seems our governmental officials don’t know either, or present their plans of preventing this economic catastrophe from happening in the future:


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