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Volume 7 No. 149
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Marketing Expert Warns NRL Of Potential Sponsor Exodus

A sports marketing expert warned the National Rugby League "faces a financial fallout for years to come" as a result of rugby league’s scandal-plagued offseason, according to the AAP. The NRL will, as expected, announce a profit when it "unveils its financial results at its annual general meeting later this month." Ministry of Sport Founder Ben Parsons said that "recent controversies would be leading companies to question their investment in clubs and the game in the months to come." He said, "You’ve got to remember the way planning cycles happen for clients. They don’t wake up and go, 'I want to sponsor a team.' It doesn’t happen like that. It’s at best a quarter away, at best, normally a year. All your missed opportunity, you see the problem in six-to-12 months. If you look at the Westpac group, their plans are four years out, they’ve got plans for 2022 already." Cronulla "already lost three major sponsors" in Opal Solar, Bang & Olufsen and Martec, while the Andrew Fifita and Josh Dugan podcast scandal "forced a prospective backer to pull out of a five-year deal" worth A$6M ($4.3M). Parsons accused the NRL of "not pressing home to players their responsibilities as brand ambassadors." He said, "No one’s actually showing [the players] what good brand is, the NRL are hopeless. I put them in my top five worst administrators for brand and reputation management for individual athletes." Parsons added that the NBA exemplified a winning approach, saying, "And the reason is because they understand ... LeBron [James] doesn’t go just because you play well on the field [that behavior doesn’t matter]. They’ve got a very holistic attitude on what the player signs into" (AAP, 2/13).