The Rowdy One

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Jeff Burton ... brought to you by a company that doesn't exist

I always have to chuckle when through corporate mergers or scandals a city is faced with having a stadium named after a company that no longer exists. For example, in 1999 the Houston Astros signed a 30-year agreement with Enron to name their stadium Enron Field, only to arrive at a legal settlement 3 years later to undo it.

I find the practice of re-naming a stadium after a corporation -- instead of a local leader or icon for that franchise -- a bit distasteful to begin with. So, it amuses me when these sponsorships go awry.

My favorite latest example of corporate sponsorship gone wrong involves one of NASCAR's top driver's Jeff Burton.

A month or so ago, AT&T inexplicably announced that after investing more than 2 Billion dollars over the last few years to build the Cingular brand, it decided to revert back to the name of your grandfather's phone company -- AT&T.

That fact, coupled with the merger of Sprint and Nextel into SprintNextel many months ago, has left Burton driving a car with a lead sponsor that is a wireless phone company that no longer exists -- racing in a circuit named after a wireless phone company that doesn't exist (at least, not the way it did).

Maybe next year he can drive for Worldcom.

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