Changing sponsors midstream

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Fans know sponsorships change — not only for anglers, but for tournament organizations as well.

If you follow competitive fishing, you know sponsorships change — not only for anglers, but for tournament organizations as well. It’s almost like a revolving door; you never know who’s coming in or going out.

During the good times, sponsorships can grow. In tougher times, they tend to wither. It’s a complex equation based on the goals and success of the sponsoring companies, the demand for individual pro staffers and the dollars (or other resources) that pro staff managers have to work with. Some deals last for years, even decades. Others are short term. Some land in your lap, while others seem impossible to obtain. And the level of compensation doesn’t always correlate to the effort required to get a sponsor. Sometimes the most lucrative deals are the easiest to acquire.

In many cases, it comes down to who you know.

Sure, it’s important to have the credentials to be considered — and promotional skills are always a factor — but it often boils down to your relationship with the person who’s calling the shots for the potential sponsor. And just as it is for the anglers, the people making those decisions spin through their own revolving doors.

When faces change, so too can the terms of the agreement, regardless of how well or how long you may have served a brand. 

Curbed by COVID 

When the Bassmaster Elite Series resumes in February, you’ll notice many changes in sponsorships — not only for the anglers, but possibly for B.A.S.S. as well. It happens every year, but this year will be like no other. 

When COVID-19 hit, it changed our industry dramatically — in some ways for the better, others for the worse.

Countless Americans were forced from their workplaces — some permanently. Children, too, were pushed out of the classroom. As a result, people had more time on their hands. Many turned their focus to the outdoors. Fishing license sales spiked, and those companies poised to take advantage of the boom did well. Others lost out. For them, low inventories and interrupted supply chains brought them to their knees.

When sales plummet, budgets get cut. And all too often the anglers dependent upon those budgets bear the brunt of it. That was the case for many Elite Series anglers this season … including me.

While some of the companies I represent experienced record sales, others suffered. It didn’t matter that I or some of my fellow competitors had productive seasons and were able to gain valuable exposure for the brands we represented. It wasn’t about loyalty either. The simple fact is that when budgets are cut, marketing and advertising dollars disappear. And it’s the guys at the end of that chain that are impacted the most.