Isn’t it worth saving the Soap Box Derby?

All-American_Soap_Box_Derby_Logo_We all know that the current economic state has affected the way that companies spend their marketing and sponsorship budgets in regards to major sports properties like NASCAR and the PGA. If we take a deeper look, we can also see how the little guy is being affected by corporate budget cuts. One example is the current situation facing the All American Soap Box Derby. Since 1933, the AASBD has been the governing body of American soap box racers. They govern regional events, culminating with a National Championship in Akron, Ohio each July.

Two years ago the AASBD lost their title sponsor and are now struggling to stay afloat as they will incur a financial loss for the second year in a row. With only a few regional sponsors, and a dwindling budget, the organization hopes that some company will come forward with the $250,000 annual title sponsor charge. While the price may seem relatively small compared to the fees charged by larger organizations, the AASBD is constantly reminded about the lack of marketing funds from potential sponsors for the upcoming year So what is the organization supposed to do?

Well it seems as if the AASBD has a plan. This non-for-profit group is taking a new approach in which their value to potential sponsors is highlighted. Right in step with the green movement amongst Corporate America, the group will focus its sponsor pitch on the fact that their sport uses only gravity during competition. Paul Swangard of the University of Oregon recently remarked in USA Today that the AASBD has “been green longer than Al Gore”, and suggests that an alternative energy company may want to sign on at this price.

The fact that the AASBD is presenting themselves off as a green group may be just the type of sales pitch that they need. This, coupled with their non-for-profit classification puts them in a prime spot for companies wanting to benefit from cause marketing. As we have mentioned on this blog previously, cause marketing in the current economy ensures companies remain relevant through sponsorship, while touching a positive place in the hearts of consumers.

Besides the opportunity of a sponsor capitalizing on soap box racing as a non-profit eco-friendly sport, a corporation could also benefit from sponsoring a sport that is considered as American as apple pie. During this period of economic hardship it seems logical to show some national pride by teaming up with an American tradition.

It will be interesting to see which companies rev up this flailing sport, and by which methods of sponsorship they decide to activate. If a sponsor does partner with the AASBD, a strong plan of action will go a long way in benefiting from the relatively inexpensive cost of the title sponsor slot. As our Vice President Bill Doyle stated this past spring, sponsors should go on a “diet”. If done effectively, a $250,000 sponsorship of this worthwhile organization seems like it could match a sponsorship manager’s appetite perfectly.

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