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We’ll talk about this later: An ode to bowl sponsorships

Your dose of lighthearted takes from this week’s happenings.

BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl - Ohio State v Notre Dame Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Each week, we’ll break down something that happened during the Ohio State game (and occasionally other games and events) that we’ll be talking about for a while—you know, the silly sideline interactions, the awful announcing and the weird storylines that stick with us for years to come. We’ll also compare each of these happenings to memorable moments in pop culture, because who doesn’t love a good Office reference?

There’s a lot to love about this week in sports: the finals of the World Cup, Justin Tucker missing two field goals so the Cleveland Browns could finally beat the Baltimore Ravens, the start of the college football bowl season.

The downside is that (if we can call it a downside), at the start of the bowl season, there’s a lot of eyebrow-raising bowl names featuring teams you probably know nothing about this season. Sponsorships rotate, of course, but it’s hard to keep up with who’s effectively financing the Fenway Bowl year in and year out (this year, it’s cloud storage company Wasabi. More on that below). It brings just enough of a level of absurdity to keep things interesting for the first quarter.

Not everyone can be as classy as the Rose Bowl, which is so iconic that sponsors come after the name of the game (no matter how much they pay!). A few of my favorite names from this year have been:

  • Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl Presented by Stifel: Fresno State beat Washington State Saturday in a blowout, but I’m still confused if Jimmy Kimmel is sponsoring this game, if this game is named in honor of Jimmy Kimmel or if Stifel (a wealth management/investment banking firm) just really likes Jimmy Kimmel.
  • Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: There’s actually no sarcasm here: I love this bowl. The first thing I think of when someone mentions Idaho is “potato” so this feels like a sponsorship match made in heaven. Further, the second thing I think of is “Boise State football/Smurf turf.” *chef’s kiss.”
  • Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl: Not Frosted Flakes. Not Kellogg’s. Just Tony the Tiger in all his orange and black striped glory. It’s grrrreeat.

It’s also interesting how many business-to-business companies (like Wasabi) are sponsoring bowl games. None of us are purchasing an aircraft, Lockheed Martin, but by all means, sponsoring the Armed Forces Bowl makes perfect sense.

Bowl season also brings us back to some of the more head scratching sponsors. Remember the Battlefrog Fiesta Bowl? Tostitos sponsored the Buckeyes’ favorite desert postseason matchup for nearly two decades before, in a confusing twist, a nearly unknown outdoor fitness company jumped in with a single season sponsorship in 2016.

Having previously managed events and sponsorships, I can only imagine what this one year stunt cost Battlefrog. Sure, it did the company a lot of good in raising awareness, but it was a bizarre interloper between the legacy tortilla chips we know and love and PlayStation, which sponsored the game for seven years after that. Coincidentally, Battlefrog closed its doors in August 2016.

Perhaps the sponsorship was not the right move, after all.