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Holden questions Collingwood FC sponsorship

Hot water: At the opening of the Holden Centre, from left, Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley, Holden’s Geraldine Davys, captain Scott Pendlebury and Collingwood president Eddie McGuire.

Inappropriate remarks by Collingwood AFL president could risk Holden sponsorship

21 Jun 2016

GM HOLDEN has issued a pointed statement around its continued sponsorship involvement with the Collingwood Football Club, after its president Eddie McGuire became embroiled in a controversy over comments he made on a Melbourne radio station last week.

It suggests that the multi-year, multi-million-dollar deal, which included renaming Collingwood’s home ground the Holden Centre, is under threat.

Mr McGuire’s remarks centred around banter with fellow hosts James Brayshaw and Danny Frawley on radio station Triple M about prominent AFL journalist Caroline Wilson, suggesting that she should drown during the course of a charity football event.

“Holden categorically disapproves of Eddy McGuire’s inappropriate comments, along with those of his co-hosts,” read the statement from Holden. “Comments like these, regardless of their intent, have no place in today’s Australia and reflect poorly on the Collingwood Football Club, its fans, stakeholders and sponsors.

“Holden is engaging with Collingwood to express our disappointment directly and discuss our sponsorship.”

The radio and television personality, who has a storied history of making ill-considered remarks in the media, has offered an unreserved apology to Ms Wilson, while the football club has responded with its own statement, saying that “the very clear view of the board of Collingwood is that there is no place in our community for the support of violent behaviour or language, even in humour”.

Discussions with the club are ongoing, according to Holden.

“We’ve made our position crystal clear on this at the moment, and we’ll be engaging the club around the next step,” Holden director of communications Sean Poppit told GoAuto.

“There’s nothing more that takes the story any further today.”

The controversy comes at a time when Holden is in the midst of evaluating its marketing spend in several areas, including its V8 Supercars program, for 2017.

Holden executive director of marketing and customer experience Geraldine Davys, who was appointed to the role mid-way though 2015, has previously told GoAuto that while the company would continue to invest marketing budget in the sporting arena, it was something that was always under active review.

“It’s fair to say that AFL isn’t the same AFL three to five years ago. The sport and the brand is evolving,” she told GoAuto last year. “We’ll stick with those sports as long as they maintain relevance for a brand like Holden.

“The bulk of the dollars are certainly still sitting in that sporting arena however, it’s prudent of any marketing director to ensure that your dollars are aligning best with the consumer you are talking to.”

Holden invested a large sum in December 2015 to secure the rights to be the exclusive vehicle sponsor for the Disney movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, indicating a fundamental shift in its sponsorship programming.

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