LAURA CARTLEDGE: Spinnaker deal shows cost isn’t always cash

0
Have your say

Rebranding and reinvention are nothing new.

Which I suppose is a little ironic.

Famous people have been doing it for decades.

Just think of the artist formerly known as Prince or look at Victoria Beckham – and now it seems there is a growing trend of local icons having a makeover, too.

Last year Goodwood announced it wouldn’t be ‘glorious’ any longer. Instead, in the single biggest sponsorship deal ever done in British racing, 2015 will see it named Qatar Goodwood Festival.

A huge amount of talk was about the sizeable money.

Which is understandable when the starting mark is £2m of prize money and it comes coupled with a promise for more.

Lord March, owner of Goodwood, spoke of his ‘delight’ that Qatar wanted to play a significant role.

But for me this comment, coupled with highlighting the races’ historic past, jarred a little.

“Goodwood has, for more than 200 years, been about the best racing in the most English of settings, accessible to everyone,” he said.

“Our partnership with Qatar will make an enormous contribution to horseracing in the UK.”

The ‘most English of settings’, the way the events celebrate the countryside and county, all toasted with a glass of Pimm’s by people wearing tweed seemed to have been plastered over.

Or worse, sold.

What’s more, with its prestigious list of busineses and blue-chip partners, I can’t stop feeling it is unlikely this has been done out of necessity.

I’m not naive enough to pretend money doesn’t make the world go round, or silly enough to think most things can be bought – at a price – but it seems there is a large gap between what deals are worth and what they cost.

This question was asked by many this week at the unveiling of Spinnaker Tower’s new identity.

The naming rights deal was intended to help raise finances to offset that lost through government cuts.

Headlines would, perhaps, focus on the ‘council does good’ side if it weren’t for the chosen partner, Emirates airline, meaning both the tower and locals were left glowing a furious shade of red.

Of course the reason is it reflects the sponsor’s corporate colours, but it also seems to give a big nod to that of Pompey’s sworn rivals – Southampton.

Social media was soon alight with petitions and calls to arms for Portsmouth fans with blue paintpots.

While Saints’ fans enjoyed stoking the fire and photoshopping their flag on top to finish the look.

There were threats to boycott the airline and the Gunwharf area as well as anger directed at those who signed the agreement, said to be worth £3.5m.

For some it will be fuss over nothing, but it all makes me feel a bit sad.

It’s not about where the money is coming from, but the fact I suppose the rest of us didn’t realise they were up for sale.