Italian bottle gas supplier Liquigas has finished a four year sponsorship deal of it’s professional road team after the 2001 season was; “polluted by events which undermined the fundamental values of the sport.”
Liquigas even took out half page ads in national Sunday papers to make sure everyone realised it did not condone the doping that has led to incidents such as the San Remo police raid during this years Giro.
“We wanted to make sure our message got over clearly,” said Liquigas spokeswoman Daniela Bernacchi. “We will reconsider our position according to any changes which may come about.”
Their co-sponsor – chip company ‘Pata’ – is also withdrawing;
“We had customers, vendors and agents making fun of us after what happened in Sanremo,” said Pata owner Remo Gobbi. “We invested in the sport to have a good return in terms of image. That’s not what we got.”
Sports analyst Giovanni Palazzi, of Gipi Consulting countered with the claim that “Festina sold more watches after the 1998 Tour de France even after the team was thrown out for drug-taking,” “Getting your name talked about helps brand recognition, whatever the context.”
We can’t see many mainstream advertisers signing up on that brand of sales patter though!