Holden sponsorship boss: ‘Walking away from Collingwood would have been easiest’

Holden has admitted it did have a “break clause” in its contract with AFL club Collingwood which would have enabled the brand to walk away from its sponsorship deal after controversial comments by president Eddie McGuire.

Earlier this month the car maker announced it would divert a large chunk of its multi-million dollar sponsorship deal with AFL club Collingwood to its women’s team and community programs and infrastructure following comments by TripleM breakfast host McGuire about drowning journalist Caroline Wilson, which many took as condoning violence against women.

Speaking at yesterday’s Sports Marketing Summit, Emma Pinwill, the general manager of marketing, brand and media strategy for Holden, said walking away from the club would have been the easier option, especially given the brand has a break clause in its contract.

Emma Pinwell: It would have been easiest to walk away from Collingwood

Emma Pinwill: Walking away from the sponsorship deal would have generated “good headlines and probably a lot of positive comments”

“We felt together as two major brands, and big organisations, we could do a lot more in this space than just walking away from the sponsorship which, quite frankly, would have been the easiest thing to do – just walk away, get some good headlines and we would have probably gotten a lot of positive comments on social media.

“We felt the better thing for the community was to stay and work together and we’ll also be working with our other sponsorship partners in the space where together we can make a much bigger difference,” Pinwill said.

Pinwell said she was “very proud” of the way the Holden leadership team had handled the situation.

“When Eddie’s comments came to light we very quickly put out a release stating that as a brand we categorically did not support the comments made by Eddie McGuire and, as a result, we were going to have a look at our sponsorship and partnership with the Collingwood Football Club,” she said.

“We didn’t make any quick decisions on that. We spent the next three or so weeks working with Collingwood to revise our sponsorship with them. It was close – there were times we thought we were going to pull out.

“The end decision was that we were going to take half our dollars (invested) with the club and put them into the new female team. ”


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