Well after the 2015 Melbourne Cup was done and dusted, it still maintained a large presence in the media for various reasons. One of which was Jessica Mauboy not singing the national anthem prior to the race as planned.
There was much speculation about the reason why she didn’t take to the stage. It was confirmed that Mauboy’s styling team dressed her in a Myer sanctioned dress and head piece but completed her outfit with David Jones shoes. The Victorian Racing Club (VRC) and Myer took exception to this, resulting in Mauboy not performing.
Everyone loves Jessica Mauboy; she’s Australia’s sweetheart and can do no wrong in the eyes of the Australian public. For that reason, a lot of the comments made alluded to the fact that it was just a pair of shoes, so what was the big deal?
The big deal is that Myer sponsored the event and as such would have stipulated that all personalities on the official running sheet of the Melbourne Cup would have to abide by their sponsorship agreement guidelines as agreed with the VRC. Any company sponsoring an event has the right to make such stipulations. This would all have been negotiated between Myer and the VRC or any other company and event.
Sponsorship is never black and white, and to a lay person the intricacies of sponsorship agreements can seem excessive or even ridiculous. There was an instance quite a few years ago in Cairns when a $250,000 Steinway piano was purchased by the Innisfail council to replace the one damaged by Cyclone Larry. There was such uproar that much needed relief money had been spent on such a large and unnecessary purchase.
Residents sent letters to the editor of the local papers, some suggesting that since Elton John was touring that year and passing through Cairns that he should play that very expensive piano. He would never have played that piano. Had he been asked to play it, he would have said no and then been considered rude or a snob. No one would have considered that he is sponsored by Yamaha, and as such cannot play another brand without violating his sponsorship agreement.
Sponsors pay a large sum of money to sponsor events or personalities and in turn have the right to expect their terms are met. Gaining sponsors for an event is hard work and is often met with plenty of rejection. When you do manage to land a sponsor you need to nurture that relationship. I’m not saying you have to rollover and do everything the sponsor wants, you negotiate terms that are beneficial to both parties and you need to respect those terms. I’m sure David Jones would have had something to say had they sponsored the event and Mauboy planned to wear Myer shoes on stage!