A simple truth
Thursday, February 14 2013
IT is a simple truth that State and private sector corporations, except there is political interference, sponsor prominent sportsmen and artistes, not for the benefit of the persons’ careers, but for the understandable reason of promoting their own products and/or services and in the process gain an improved image and earn additional revenue.
There is no sentiment involved. In turn, sponsorship agreements tend to embody clauses which, should there be perceived or demonstrated lapses on the part of sponsored persons, can be held to directly or indirectly affect the image of the corporations adversely, then these clauses would allow for the suspending or cancelling of the agreements.
The decision of the Board of the Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT), a State Enterprise, to instruct the company’s management to suspend its sponsorship agreement with popular entertainer, Machel Montano, when he was convicted late last year, arising out of his being charged in Court with various offences, would have been taken under the terms of the agreement. Montano is listed to be sentenced on February 25.
TSTT should be commended on the action it took in suspending its commercial relationship with Montano, both in light of the guilty verdict and his clearly tactless response to the suspension that the agreement was a”fringe benefit”. Montano, who retained his Groovy Soca Monarch title on Friday in the runup to the recently concluded 2013 Carnival celebrations, as well as tied with the legendary SuperBlue for the Power Soca Monarch crown, would dismissively add to the “fringe benefit” remark that his sole purpose was to make people smile, jump and dance.
It was an unfortunately brusque dismissal of his sponsorship agreement with TSTT. a company in which hundreds of thousands of Trinidadians and Tobagonians, including scores of his fans are stakeholders as taxpayers. Was Montano’s an inadvertent statement? We pose this question, and not rhetorically, because we would hate to think that he holds to the view, as his statement has suggested, that his sponsorship agreement with the TSTT was not deserving of serious consideration.
However, whatever his position on the issue, Montano should immediately withdraw his indiscreet remark and publicly apologise to TSTT. His tasteless comment has hurt the Corporation’s image and despite its after tax profits being listed in the hundreds of millions of dollars, since its inception, TSTT should realise that its profitable position from the outset of its formation has been due inlarge measure to its being the sole nationwide land line provider.
TSTT should immediately draw to Montano’s attention, if it has not already done so, any displeasure it may have with respect to his reported tasteless response. We urge this be done before other upcoming and/or current stars are tempted to believe that any inaction by the telephone company means that other State enterprises, which may be potential sponsors, would be little more than a collection of Good Friday “bobolees” and to be treated as such.
Within recent years there has been an increasingly beneficial relationship between public and private sector corporations and the Arts. More and yet more corporate entities have been entering into sponsorship agreements with leading domestic performers and we may add sports personalities as well, to promote their brands and/or products with the aim of securing a competitive edge.
These corporations will, presumably, be just as swift to advise their managements to sever ties with such individuals when they fall from grace. Personalities such as Olympian cyclist, Lance Armstrong, and the internationally celebrated golfer, Tiger Woods, were shunned by many of their corporate sponsors when they were found to have erred. If TT is to maintain needed standards then no local, who has lapsed, deserves lesser treatment, if only to have the fundamental lesson taught of being a responsible adult first and a performer second.
Aspiring TT sportsmen/women and artistes can clearly benefit from the errors of Montano, Armstrong and Woods and seek to bypass their respective roads.