How the Melbourne Stars landed Optus as its major sponsor in under 24 hours

The Melbourne Stars may have set a new record, in turning a suddenly empty prime piece of sponsorship real estate into a long term partnership in just 24 hours, following the collapse of its Dick Smith deal this week writes Simon Canning. 

With four games left in the 2015-16 Big Bash League season, the Stars seemed almost certain to have been left with a gaping hole on the front of their uniforms and an even more troubling hole in their accounts, after the shock move into receivership by the electronics brand.

Clint Cooper CEO of the Melbourne Stars at the press conference announcing the deal.

Clint Cooper CEO of the Melbourne Stars at the press conference announcing the deal.

But Melbourne Stars CEO Clint Cooper told Mumbrella the move by Optus and the way the deal came together had left him amazed at the turn of events.

Melbourne StarsCooper said he first had concerns about the future of the relationship when he saw Dick Smith announce a massive write down late last year – a move his experience as an accountant warned him trouble could be ahead.

But when the news broke of the company’s move into to receivership, he wasted no time opening the discussions with potential replacements.

At 4pm on Tuesday lines had been opened between the Stars and major telco Optus, picking up on earlier preliminary discussions between the pair that had occurred in recent months.

Within an hour it was clear that Optus was a genuine possibility and the Stars team began pulling together the assets details that would convince the brand the team was a worthwhile property to be associated with.

“We knew pretty early on Tuesday but we didn’t have a lot of time to think about it,” said Cooper.

“We had to be quite flexible with the last four games and the finals coming up”.

If the team had not been able to secure a sponsor in time for its match on Wednesday night, Cooper knew the chances of filling the hole with just three games left would have been significantly more difficult and so the urgency of the situation was clear.

At the same time, the team was working on making sure it could deliver key assets quickly.

So as Optus looked over the proposal on Tuesday evening, work began to confirm that uniforms, on-ground signage and other elements of the sponsorship could be put in place in time for the game if a deal could be struck.

Optus sponsor jeresy

The new Melbourne Stars Jerseys with Optus branding.

Mumbrella understands the ease of negotiations was highlighted by the fact that key players in the discussions did not have to pull the classic “all nighter” to get it over the line.

By early Wednesday morning the draft of the sponsorship deal was ready to go – teams uniforms and on ground signage for the remainder of the season, including the finals series. The cream on the cake was securing a further two years – saving the team from having to head straight back to the market as soon as the season had ended.

Come midday Wednesday the deal had been signed and work had already begun printing and installing new signage on the ground, updating uniforms and preparing the media release.

By the time the Stars walked on to the MCG it had been barely 24 hours since they had lost their major sponsor, but to the 33,000 onlookers and a peak audience of 913,000 TV viewers, even with the new logs abundant, it appeared the team had not missed a beat.

Perhaps a record in the world of sponsorship?

Simon Canning is marketing and advertising editor at Mumbrella


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