Now here’s something to open a can of carbon worms. Whereas his new UCI WoldTour team Lampre-Merida is sponsored by Sidi, when it comes to shoes it seems reigning World Road Champion Rui Costa prefers wearing Bont. To solve the impasse his team has him rather ingeniously – or despicably depending on who you ask – wearing overshoes cleverly designed to look like actual Sidi shoes in Dubai this week. This led to the following comment from Bont CEO, Steven Nemeth on Facebook earlier today. Sure Nemeth is no doubt a little predisposed towards his own products (what CEO isn’t?). But far beyond the brand rivalry, he does have a pretty valid point, doesn’t he?
“Ahhh, the desperation of Sidi to make it look like Rui is riding their shoes. Having shoe covers made that look like real shoes to hide the real truth. Not exactly honest marketing, very uncool. The real truth, that’s the Zero+ under the cover. Why is he still wearing Bont? Simple, BETTER SHOES! Deceptive marketing. Is that really a great sign of integrity…….” Steven Nemeth, CEO, Bont
What do you think? Should sponsors force athletes to wear/use their gear under all circumstances? Or should they just let them use what they’re most comfortable with? Or…..is deception like this okay?
4 thoughts on “If the sponsor’s shoe fits…?”
I heard a similar thing once about wheels and wheel decals… A lot more dollars involved than shoes….
What Nemeth calls deceptive marketing is also contractual leniency demonstrated by Sidi. I want to know what Nemeth would say about riders in a Bont sponsored team insisting on wearing Sidi, where the team takes his money (cash or in kind) and someone insists on wearing a competitor’s kit. Either 1) Costa can sign with a team sponsored by Bont, 2) Bont can sponsor the Lampre Merida team in place of Sidi, 3) everyone should shut up and allow the current practice to continue, 4) product companies should stop sponsoring teams and leave it to others to fund the sport.
Worth checking out the thread over on our FB page. Nemeth has been elaborting on his views and covers some of the points you raise here.
There was a Aussie MTB rider (winner of world events) a couple of years ago who was in a team who changed bike brands. The rider in question refused to ride the new bike preferring the old sponsor’s bike. The answer, paint the frame a new colour and put the new sponsors stickers over it. Anyone who knew their bikes could spot the ‘rebrand’ a mile away…. deceptive yeah I think so, but athletes need to like and trust their equipment…. but they also need to be paid! Its a tough position for all involved. Its unfortunate that athletes have personal arrangements that allowed them to become elite and sometimes that clashes with event, team, country sponsorship.
Can anyone remember the Manly Sea Eagles sponsored by Pepsi winning the pre season cup which was sponsored by Coke! before accepting the trophy the team were forced to remove their pepsi caps…. if any other team had won, they would have been allowed to wear their team caps. Deceptive? …. or just funny. And of course several Olympic clashes, athletes/countries sponsored by one company while the games are sponsored by another competing brand. At the current winter Olympics athletes have been instructed to not mention/promote iPhones/iPads due to Samsungs involvement.