The basis for businesses sponsoring sportspersons and buying rights to advertise on stadiums and so on has always puzzled me. I recently read more about the economics behind it, and it turns out to be a fascinating field of academic research, called virtue signalling. It links back to the market failure issue of asymmetric information between buyer and seller, made famous by that dude that wrote about used cars and lemons, Akerlof. I suppose Elon Musk putting a car in space is a form of virtue signalling, but I’m not sure which virtue he is attempting to signal.
In some cases, the sponsorship to business link is obvious, such as when an oil company sponsors a rally car.
I run the occasional marathon, trail race, and do the odd triathlon, and I spend a lot of money, relatively speaking, on running shoes. I often experiment with different brands, I see running shoes as groceries. (Bicycles, well, that is another discussion) A couple of years ago, I bought some shoes from a new to me Swiss company called On Cloud. Their trail shoes, the cloud venture, have become a firm favourite of mine, I’ve had a couple of pairs.
For road shoes, I’m trying a variety of different brands at the moment, the Altra zero drop being my current long distance shoe, the wide toe box looks odd, but is very comfy.
I bought a new pair of on clouds today for triathlon because of a tweet that led me to On Cloud’s sponsorship of Tim Don. He is the ironman record holder. So, I’m not dumb enough to know that buying his shoes will make me significantly faster. I bought them cos OC supported him through thick and thin. He was knocked off his bike just before the major ironman event in Kona, and broke his neck, and had to wear a halo brace and for a time, it looked grim for Tim. He was totally determined to recover, and despite the most brutal pain, he has recovered and is back racing. He ran the Boston Marathon and he won Ironman 70.3 races recently. Check out the video here. While I’m a big Jan Frodeno fan, this year I’m rooting for Tim.
Tim, massive respect. Same to you On Cloud.
I’m not expecting the shoes to make me faster, but I do hope a little bit of Tim’s positive outlook on life will seep through those laces.