Andrew Baxter interviewed by Ross Greenwood on the 2GB Money Show about the sponsorship issues for Australian cricketers Steve Smith and David Warner

Andrew was interviewed by Ross Greenwood on his 2GB Money Show about the sponsorship implications for Australian cricketers Steve Smith and David Warner following the ball tampering incident in the 3rd Test between Australia and South Africa.

Ross Greenwood: What’s happened today is that Dave Warner has indicated that he will stand down from his team in India. Now, in this particular case, it’s a situation where Dave Warner has had almost no alternative but to take some of these actions. Now, as we told you yesterday, some of the major sponsors of Cricket Australia have spoken out vigorously against what has taken place. Say for example, there was Qantas as one, although it doesn’t directly sponsor the Australian cricket team. The Magellan Financial Group’s Hamish Douglas, we told you, said that, “Cheating by the Australian team was abhorrent”. I’d reckon it would be pretty hard to get Hamish Douglas back across the line as a major sponsor of Australian cricket. Accenture, The Common Wealth Bank, Toyota, Four X Gold, all made strong statements about that incident, as well.

The issue right now is that Dave Warner stood down as the captain of the IPL side Sunrisers Hyderabad. This is after Steve Smith stood down from the Rajasthans [sic] Royals. You’ve heard from what James Sutherland had to say, let’s now think about it from a publicity point of view. Would you want Steve Smith or Dave Warner to be representing your brand? One of the people who’s got better knowledge of that than just about anybody in this country is Andrew ‘Billy’ Baxter, a good friend of mine, the former chairman and chief executive of Publicis Communications, one of the biggest advertising companies in Australia and the world. He’s on the line right now. Many thanks for your time, Andrew.

Andrew Baxter: Thanks, Ross. Good to speak to you.

Ross Greenwood: All right, Dave Warner right now, would you want him to be the face of your brand?

Andrew Baxter: I think the issue David Warner’s got is that brands are a little bit like people. People will forgive them once. It’s the second and third time that you struggle to forgive them as a brand. I think David Warner is in a bit of strife with this one. On the other hand, Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft, in this case, they’ve made one mistake and I think there’s some good examples of brands and people making one mistake in the past and coming back.

Ross Greenwood: Okay, so LG which is a giant electronics company from Korea, has today, this afternoon, said the company will not renew its partnership with Dave Warner. In fact, they have said, “That in light of recent events, we’ve decided not to renew our partnership”. It was due to come to an end within weeks, as I understand it, and effectively it said that it will be no more. A sponsorship like that one is worth significant amounts of money to a player like Dave Warner, one would’ve imagined.

Andrew Baxter: Yes, you would think so. That one is a bit of a left field sponsorship. Normally, sponsorships have very clear alignment, particularly around either values or the product itself. A player getting sponsored by a cricket bat, that makes perfect sense. A basketballer getting sponsored by a basketball shoe, or even the Queen offering up to say that she uses Wedgwood. They’re very obvious links. But, there are links between LG and David Warner that are a little bit of a stretch I would’ve thought, on paper. anyway. But, these relationships are worth a lot of money.

Ross Greenwood: That’s what I’m saying. What sort of money are we talking about for some of these? Are we talking hundreds of thousands or are we talking millions of dollars?

Andrew Baxter: Look, it’s very difficult to know on these sorts of ones. It could be hundreds of thousands of dollars. A lot of these players might have car associations. Usually, it’s around a free car for a period of time. It is difficult to understand, but LG and David Warner have had a fair stint together. So, you would’ve thought that it was decent amount of money.

Ross Greenwood: The other point also is that these people get these sort of branding agreements because they are the face of a sport, because they are so good, not only in Australia, but also when they travel the world, and so they can represent that brand. As you point out, the problem is that the brand, quite often, can be affected by their association with somebody who suddenly gets themselves involved into a scandal. As I would understand it, I probably have it written it in my contract here at the radio station, that if I do anything to discredit this radio station, the station would have the right to rip up that contract. I kind of understand that, as well.

Andrew Baxter: Absolutely. I mean, that makes perfect sense. If they value the brand association and you’ve clearly aligned with that brand, not only is that person’s whose brand reputation go backwards, but so does the brand that they’re aligned with.

Ross Greenwood: It’s going to be interesting to see exactly what happens. Andrew Baxter, who was the former chairman and chief executive of Publicis Communications. As always, Billy, great to have you on the program.

Andrew Baxter: Thanks, Ross.

Ross Greenwood: It’s Billy Baxter there. It really is interesting. Would you want Dave Warner, right now, to be the face of your brand? I think that’d be pretty tough.