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The five times sponsorship failed and blew up in the faces of brands

From TV to social media, there have never been more ways for a company to push a product or brand and hopefully lure new customers. However, theres a reason why those at the top of their game in marketing get paid so much. They need to avoid the kind of problems weve unearthed below.


When online property listings platform Zoopla became the principal sponsor of English Premier League team West Bromwich Albion in 2012, the company was probably thinking that it was aligning itself with an ambitious, Midlands-based club which was going to do wonders for brand exposure.

The 3m two-year deal saw Zoopla plastered over the front of West Broms shirts, a big move as part of the companys plans to usurp rival Rightmove as the market leader.

However, that branding exercise came to a screeching halt less than two years later when Zoopla pulled its sponsorship after West Brom striker Nicholas Anelka made what was deemed to be an anti-Jewish gesture after scoring a goal.

The French footballer unveiled a quenelle gesture as his celebration, prompting outrage from the football community and Jewish organisations.

To make matters worse for West Brom, the founder and CEO of Zoopla, Alex Chesterman, is Jewish himself. After demanding its branding was taken off shirts if Anelka was fielded in the next match, Zoopla ultimately decided to pull out entirely and focus its attention on other marketing activities.

This example shows that, despite football being a great way of introducing a brand to a wide range of people, it’s always a risk when you have no control over the players who essentially serve as ambassadors.

Read more from Surreal Business:


With reality television on the rise, the powers that be at takeaway chain Dominos Pizza decided to get a piece of the action and sponsored diving show Splash! in 2013.

Fronted by Olympic diver Tom Daley, the show saw a group of questionable celebrities coached on how to high dive properly.

However, Dominos adverts, featuring at the start and end of every break in programming as “bumpers”, were slightly contradicted when followed by government warnings about the fat content of pizzas yes, specifically pizzas.

Businesses such as Dominos, McDonalds and Burger King are finding it increasingly hard to market offerings in the face of strong pushback from health organisations and government initiatives. But Dominos must have expected the ad men at ITV to be slightly sensitive to the matter and space out the two contrasting shorts a little bit more.

Visit page two to find out how Virgin couldn’t even provide trains to an event it was aligned with, and how Phones4U appeared to make a joke out of rape.


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