Whether for personal or business reasons it’s never easy to end a relationship. Even where a partnership has run its natural course and there’s nothing left to say, Neil Sedaka’s observation remains true. Breaking up is hard to do.
Just how hard can be seen in Oakley’s decision to sue Rory McIlroy for breach of contract following his decision to endorse Nike’s golf clothing and equipment range in return for an exclusive deal believed to be worth in the region of $200m.
Oakley’s case is not that the world’s No1 golfer failed to fulfill his obligations under the existing agreement. It’s that he neglected to offer Oakley the opportunity to match Nike’s offer under a ‘right of first refusal clause’. While the existence of such a clause may satisfy corporate vanity by implying that only one of the parties has the power to end the relationship, its one-sided nature is incongruous with an association requiring the support of both partners to succeed.
No one should underestimate the effort required to keep both personal and business partnerships fresh and effective, but there may come a time when a parting becomes inevitable. So it is with sponsorship. John Smith’s nine-year relationship with the Grand National will end in 2013. Both Aintree and Heineken can look back on a highly successful partnership and move on amicably to form new ones with dynamic new partners. Neither will profit from continuing to flog the proverbial dead horse.