Recently, while pursuing some racing team Facebook post’s, I stumbled across a post from JJCRacing (Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing). Jennifer Jo was announcing a new sponsor agreement with a gentleman named, Robby Wells. Was Mr. Wells selling a product or promoting his company? No, he is selling himself. Robby Wells is running for President of the United States in 2016.
Now, before we continue, let’s get a few things out of the way.
I’m not a Democrat nor, am I a Republican, for the sake of this writing, I’m a Moderate. In fact, for the last Presidential election I chose, none of the above. Correct, I didn’t vote. This decision was based on the stance of both candidates, when it came to the subject of Small Business. But, that is a discussion for another time.
Where were we…Oh yeah, Mr. Wells sponsorship of JJCRacing.
Robby Wells, is running for President on the United States in 2016, as a Democrat. He has, as part of his marketing push, decided to sponsor a couple of auto-racing teams. Now Mr. Wells political positions are not the subject of this article, it’s the reaction to the announcement on social media.
For a small team, like Jen’s, running on the fringe of NASCAR (and the truck series qualifies) sponsors can be hard to find, and even more difficult to keep. So when an owner/driver like her finds a sponsor, that choses your team, over others. There’s only a few questions that need to be answered…
1: Are the product or service’s, legal?
2: Is the money connected to drug dealers and/or organized crime?
3: Are hot button issues such as: abortion, government spying of citizens, religion or what is marriage involved?
4: Finally, does your team and sponsor mesh well?
If the answers to those questions are: Yes, No, No, and Yes. Most likely, you will sign the sponsorship agreement. Your not, going to go on social media and ask fans if it ok.
But it appears, that is what Jennifer should have done. When her team posted, via social media, the date of a press conference to announce the new partnership, the reaction must have caught them a little off guard.
Several members of the page reacted with what only can be described as, venom. Some, even threatened to stop following and “Unlike” the page. And it wasn’t just one or two. The comments area of the original post went into three digits.
The post was removed by the team later, after some of the press conference info changed. The original post was shared several times, so you may still be able to find it by doing an online search. But since shared posts don’t always have access to the original comments area, you may not get to read the same comments that I read.
But based on what some of these “fans” said, you would have thought Jennifer kicked their dog. At one point Jen went on the page to explain that she doesn’t support any one political party over the other, and has friends in both.
How about a little, perspective on this. Picture, for just a moment, that Dale Earnhardt Jr has to go online to explain why his team chose Diet Mt. Dew over Mello Yello. Of course thats not going to happen. Hendrick Motor Sports isn’t going to ask people sitting at home if it’s ok that they chose one sponsor over the other.
That is why, the reaction of a group of JJCRacing’s fans was…dare I say it? Mind boggling! For Jennifer, a small business owner (like it or not 90+% of Nascar teams are small business) like herself, she’s just trying to survive. There’s parts, entry fees, bills, and a payroll that need money in the bank to pay for.
These facts, were lost on those who spewed the fire and brimstone at her team. I’ll bet that 25% of the people who have liked Jen’s page in the past, are small business owners themselves. If any of those, unliked the teams page are small business owners, I would be greatly disappointed. Being a former small business owner myself (went under early last year), making ends meet was foremost on my mind.
The only thing she was thinking of was…Does this help me build and make my team better? The correct answer? Yes, it does.
Jennifer fell victim to one of the pitfall’s of social media. In this day and age when anything can be commented on, and torn apart by every Tom, Dick, and Harriet. You run the risk of a select few getting a chance, to bad mouth your group on just about anything. When you mix in the passion that is politics in the USA, lightning bolts can, and will be fired.
What’s is biggest lesson that sporting organizations of, all kinds, can learn from this?
We learn that not all sponsorships are created equal. While each of them bring money to the table, they also can bring headaches and baggage along. Whether they mean to or not.
Also, it can be shown that not all sporting organizations are equal. A team in the highest reaches of their sport can absorb a hit the occasional political endorsement or affiliation will cause. While a team on the fringe of their sport, such as JJCRacing, could get hit with headaches that would cause a migraine to feel like a slight inconvenience.
Just when you thought it was safe to announce a new sponsor.