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OPINION: City eyeing sponsorship deal

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Ain’t singin’ for Pepsi
Ain’t singin’ for Coke
I don’t sing for nobody
Makes me look like a joke

–  Neil Young, lyrics from “This Note’s For You”

Sarnians could be seeing a lot more advertisements on public buildings, vehicles and webpages under a scheme that city hall is working on.

The goal of the Advertising, Marketing and Sponsorship Project is to generate some big bucks for the cash-strapped city by finding companies and organizations that want to use municipal assets to market themselves.

How big?

According to a consulting firm, Sarnia has $4.1 million worth of potential sponsorship assets, but that realistically 30% of those should be bundled and sold.

That would give the city, within three years, a windfall of $1.2 million annually in newfound revenue, the consultants say.

If you add in the RBC Centre and the marketing opportunities it presents we’re up to $1.7 million in newfound money.

The firm that was paid $51,000 by the city to produce the report, Partnership Group – Sponsorship Specialists, was a little vague on exactly what these assets are, both in its report and in a presentation to council last week.

But they apparently include websites, logos, signs at city events, event advertising and program sponsorships, and even step risers on staircases in municipal buildings.

An enthused city council has asked staff to take the next step and craft a draft policy and report for October.

Coun. Cindy Scholten, who brings a marketing background to the table, called it “the key to the treasure box.”

Indeed, the concept is a promising one. Sarnia should take better advantage of its marketing opportunities, and a comprehensive, corporate-wide policy is long overdue.

And we can certainly use the money. The city’s already battered budget suffered another hit recently when Lambton Mall won a property tax appeal that will see it refunded $960,000.

But we need to be realistic. Are there really enough businesses and organizations with money out willing to add $1.2 million to the city’s bottom line? Well, we’ll see.

And a full-time sponsorship manager would need to be hired, plus a part-time person, to fully capitalize on the plan and sell and service the new municipal partners, the consultants say.

Yes, you need to spend money to make money, but adding staff to the public payroll is a tough sell right now.

And there is the issue of eye blight. There are only so many signs, ads and banners you can hang out there before the city starts to resemble a Kentucky highway.


























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