I’ve defended the Citi-Mets naming rights deal against the political attacks because those political attacks have tended to be misinformed and hypocritical. The Mets deal is a big fat obvious target, but the criticisms ignore the fact that there’s an underlying contract in place that can’t magically be undone. More generally, these attacks stink of political opportunism. After all, there are multiple other bank expenses — including marketing expenses — that the taxpayers shouldn’t be underwriting and no one is attacking them with such vigor.
But That doesn’t mean that naming rights deals are good things to begin with, and yesterday congressman Barney Frank pretty much nailed the concept to the wall:
“Marketing expenses should be for real marketing, not ego boosts, which is what I think naming rights are . . . Important men, in particular, like to hang out and ingratiate themselves with sports figures, and after the fact try to figure out how to make sense of the sponsorships as marketing or economic development . . . I don’t think anybody has ever opened a bank account or decided to buy a CD because a bank’s name is on the stadium.”
Sounds about right. And he’s also right about the Citi-Mets deal in particular:
Frank is not demanding that the bank break a valid contract that the Mets have said has no escape clause. “If there’s some cancellation fee, fine, but if it’s binding, it’s binding,” he said . . . “We can’t force them to break an existing contract” with the Mets, Frank said. “But we can put in some pretty strict conditions on them going forward.”
I’m sure there’s a lot about his day-to-day politics that I don’t agree with — I disagree with everyone in every party about something at some point — but when Frank starts talking informally about something, he usually makes a lot of sense.