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Will Hewlett Packard’s San Francisco 49ers Sponsorship Achieve a ROI?


In July of 2010 Hewlett-Packard announced it would become a new sponsor of the San Francisco 49ers. Starting at the beginning of the 2010 season Hewlett-Packard was the “Presenting Sponsor” of the franchise including such things as the 49ers Training Camp. While any sponsorship relevant to sport more than likely results in a financial return, will HP products be of any interest to San Francisco fans?  HP senior vice president and chief marketing officer, Michael Mendenhall, said, “HP is synonymous with innovation. Pairing our brand with the San Francisco 49ers, one of the most storied franchises in the NFL, creates a dynamic combination that can bring together fans of both organizations.”

HP the Presenting Sponsor of the San Francisco 49ers

It seems they are hoping to pair the strong history and success of the San Francisco 49ers to HP products, which, in theory, is not a bad idea. Unfortunately we are in the era of the “Fair Weather Fan”, the fan who only supports to team that is successful. I have personally seen this being a Detroit Lions fan. I was fortunate enough to be a fan while the great Barry Sanders was still playing. While the Lions never made it to the Super Bowl, they did make post-season several times in 1990s. Unfortunately, the Lions have not seen much success since (excluding the last few weeks), caping it off by becoming the first franchise to go 0 -16. As a result all my family and friends who loved watching the Detroit Lions growing up, refuse to consider themselves a “Lions Fan”. In fact, referring to someone as a Lions fan is only step above an insult. I mention this because in the late 80s and early 90s the San Francisco 49ers were questionably the best team in the league with their only competition coming from the Dallas Cowboys. Unfortunately since those glory days the 49ers have not had much success. This year they cannot seem to find a consistent starting QB and they recently just fired their head coach.

Hewlett Packard visible during a Post-Game Interview with Mike Singletary

Sadly, I’m sure HP did not expect this San Francisco team that entered the season with such high expectations to go experience so many set backs.So although the 49ers have historically been a successful team, to the young market that HP appeals to, they are just another team that hasn’t had much success. I mention the “market that HP appeals to” because HP considers themselves one and the same with innovation. Being a company that prides itself on innovation, on introducing the latest and most technological products you must know that the older generation of people will not relate to you or your products. Many of us cannot get our parents to text us, let alone use touch screen desktops and web-printers. So going back to my original question, will HP receive a Return on Investment with their sponsorship of the San Francisco 49ers? Given the argument above, I believe not. With the team struggling on all levels this season, I believe it is safe to say the strong fan base of the 49ers is looking pretty weak. In addition to this the 49ers with their lack of success in more than the past decade, have not grab the attention of any new fans.