Is nothing sacred in the world of corporate sponsorships?

Today it was announced that the world-famous Tournament of Roses Parade, held on New Year's Day in Pasadena, California and broadcast across the globe, will change its name. Come January 1, the new name will be 122nd Rose Parade Presented by Honda. A new event logo is currently in the works, which will incorporate the Honda logo. Honda has also laid claim to the lead float in the parade.

I'm a traditionalist in many ways. And, a 121-year-old parade has a lot of tradition. Sure, it has evolved over the years, but it's basically remained unchanged in the major ways. As for acquiring a sponsor, I understand the necessary evil. It's an expensive event and a little corporate money is no doubt going to ease the stress on the organizers. However, incorporating the Honda logo into the parade logo is too much (the new logo has not been unveiled yet, but I anticipate a train wreck).

In addition, I have to question the change in the event title. Why not just leave it as the Tournament of Roses Parade (and then add "Presented by Honda)? The event headquarters in Pasadena is even called Tournament House. Or maybe it will seek a corporate sponsor and undergo a name change, too (El Pollo Loco House, perhaps?).

The next issue probably isn't PC to say, but I'm going to say it anyway. The parade is a long-standing American tradition which is now being sponsored by a Japanese company. Is it just a matter of time until tourists in Washington D.C. will enjoy "The White House Tour, Sponsored by Toyota"?

Please don't misconstrue that as a racist remark, it's not. It's just pro-American (and, yes, there is a difference). During this terrible recession, with so many people out of work and running low on self-esteem, Americans need to feel proud. The Tournament of Roses Parade is one event that unites us all on a day that represents hope and new beginnings. To have one of this country's most popular events sponsored by a company in another country, well, that's just sad.

I understand how event sponsorships work and, generally, it boils down to an issue of money. How much is a company willing to pay to be associated with an event? How much does the event want, or need, the company's moola?

I know I'm old-fashioned on the issue of sponsorships (really, I do know). Heck, I've lived in Los Angeles my whole life and grew up attending events at The Forum. When Great Western Bank secured naming rights on the facility in 1988, which lasted until 2003, I refused to call it The Great Western Forum. First off, tradition trumped sponsorship and it would always be The Forum to me. Secondly, Great Western wasn't compensating me to advertise for them, so I wasn't compelled to do so by using their name when I referenced the venue.

So, am I the only one bothered by The Tournament of Roses' new name, new logo, and new sponsor? I need a reality check.


  1. Hi Amber,

    The Tournament of Roses change does bother me. And Honda; what are they thinking? Obviously, subtlety is not their strong suit.


  2. Marc: Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment!

    I have to say, in my opinion, the greater error lies with the parade organizers. If Honda throws out an offer to sponsor the event, or anything else, that this their prerogative. However, every company or organization has the right to turn away a potential sponsor. If the executives who operate the parade approved Honda's sponsorship and agreed to all the changes, I think THEY bear the blame.

    As the guardians of a long-standing American tradition, I think the sponsorship terms they approved were excessive and I, for one, am very disappointed in the Tournament of Roses leadership.

  3. As I said on twitter, I hate this change! Not everything has to be or should be corporate endorsed. Roses have a lovely scent but this just stinks! I hope that the parade stays in Pasadena, and that it remains on New Years Day. We need to have traditions for our own stability. Unite for Traditions!

  4. Great comments. I am not so much bothered by Honda being the sponsor, after all, so many Americans now drive Hondas (myself included) and they probably do employ many Americans here in the U.S. I have more of an issue with the dropping of the "Tournament of Roses." It had a great ring to it. What happened to branding? What was the rationale for dropping the word "tournament"? I would love your local media to look in to it and let us all know. Growing up in Arizona, I know that the Fiesta Bowl was one of the first, if not the first, bowl game to get a sponsor (the Sunkist Fiesta Bowl). But I admit, things can get carried away. Some sponsorships are downright awkward (remember the IBM/OS2 bowl games?). And they can oftentimes cause confusion. Again, a local Arizona example is the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. City officials in Glendale, AZ. were more than a little miffed that the stadium in their city was still going to have the word "Phoenix" attached to it, just as they were trying to get out from underneath the shadow of the capital city and establish their own independence in the national spotlight.

  5. >> Dee: Funny! It does stink, doesn't it? In a land where we tear down history to build parking lots, I know not nearly enough people appreciate tradition. However, this global tradition means something to a lot of people and to make such over the top concessions in the sponsorship deal is really surprising. I'm with you on this.

    By the way, Christmas will be sponsored by Angel Soft Toilet Tissue this year and be moved to July 14. :->

    >> Anonymous: Thanks for commenting and for sharing an example from your own town. I agree. I see no good reason at all to remove the word Tournament. It's IS part of the branding and I see no gain for Honda to have that change made either. As for sponsor names confusing things, I hear you. Sometimes you have to get five words into the name of the event to get past the sponsor stuff and even find out what the event is!


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