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#PaidPatriotism Isn't the Issue

Failure to measure any impact is.

Like a lot of people, including a couple of US Senators who commissioned the report, I was taken aback by the Department of Defense's spending on professional sports, now apparently known as #paidpatriotism. But not, apparently, for the reasons most people seem to be.

The DoD is like any other organization trying to reach the epically elusive and decidedly distracted young male demographic. Sports is one of the last places that still attract the attention of this group. Seen a Fanduel or DraftKing ad recently? (Wait, that's a stupid question.... of course you've seen them.) Nary a grey hair or female to be seen. They know their demo, and use sports to reach them.

The DoD is no different. They spend money on sports teams to reach their primary audience. It's an investment. Sports teams take DoD money to create programs that honor troops and highlight the military with a goal (in theory... more on that in a sec.) of attracting recruits. It's what teams do.

But here's what really irritates me. From the report:

"...the Department [of Defense] doesn’t uniformly measure how and whether the activities under contract are actually contributing to recruiting.”

Seriously? Nothing? I don't know who's managing the DoD sports programs, but c'mon.

Someone got lazy. The days of slapping a logo on a race car and then crossing your fingers and hoping for success are long gone.

I'm not saying that evaluating sponsorship success is easy. It's not, as any practitioner will tell you. But with the sheer number of tools, information, and expertise available to do help gauge program success, it's shocking that the DoD has no idea how well these programs perform.

Look: sports may or may not be the absolutely best marketing platform for the DoD (though it probably beats putting ads on during The View...) But by not collecting any information to make that judgement, the DoD lost a winnable battle.

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