Given their nature, lifestyle sponsorships directly impact on the personal life of the sponsee(usually players in the sponsored team, less so coaching staff, club officials andadministrators). The sponsorship arrangement may carry the expectation that the lifestylemessage be adopted and enforced in private activities. This creates an intrusive burden as theplayers, usually the staff most directly impacted by such deals, are not responsible for therecruitment and signing of the sponsor, nor are they usually consulted in such negotiations.Failure to adhere to the sponsor mandated lifestyle can result, and has resulted, in thetermination of the sponsorship arrangement and sanctions beyond the law for individualemployees. Whilst a home loan sponsorship does not result in mandatory debt for the players,lifestyle sponsors will often insist on the mandatory observation of the sponsor message suchas giving up smoking. A car sponsor may give cars to the players they sponsor, but it wouldnot be seen as reasonable to terminate the sponsor-club relationship if a single player drove adifferent make of car to church. Breach of a lifestyle sponsor mandated behaviour, even in aprivate capacity, however can result and has resulted in the termination of the contract.Lifestyle sponsorships are also restricted by the nature of the sponsor product – a road safetyspeed reduction campaign can only offer education sessions for players, they cannot providereduced speed driving for the team. Related problems arise for other physical goods basedlifestyle sponsorships – whilst a skin cancer awareness campaign can provide sun cream, hatsand the ancillary physical materials of the campaign, they cannot guarantee skin cancer freeplayers. As a result, whilst sponsees are required to behave in a restricted manner, they are notguaranteed an outcome from this behaviour.
The TAC Case Study: Lifestyle in Breach
At the core of the lifestyle sponsorship proposal is the assumption that society, as it stands,has a current problem which requires addressing. For example, the TAC “Wipe off 5”campaign with Collingwood is based on the notion that there exists a problem with driverscontinuing to exceed the speed limit by five kilometres an hour. Consequently, sponsorshipwould continue until the social goals of the campaign have been meet (reduction in “5 over”speeding).The Richmond/TAC sponsorship agreement was based on the assumption that drink drivingwas a social problem, and that this problem could be addressed through raising awareness andprofile with the associated sponsorship. When the Richmond player committed the lifestylebreach it was demonstrable proof that the campaign was still necessary. In 16 years of sponsorship, the club had two incidents of road safety lifestyle breaches (2001, 2005)involving drink driving. If the objective of the TAC campaign was to address road safetylifestyle choices of drink driving, then the act of the player committing a drink driving offencewas an opportunity to demonstrate functional similarity in the continuation of thesponsorship.
A question of message
However, what message did the TAC send by terminating the association with Richmond?The lifestyle breach was a clear failure of the sponsor message to get through to a sponsee, letalone the target market. Yet, at the point of lifestyle breach, the TAC elected to walk awayfrom their remaining months of sponsorship and exposure. Presumably, either the campaignhad met its goals (reduce drink driving), or was failing to deliver outcomes (awareness of anti-drink driving message) based on investment.