Economy’s Impact on Flair Bartending Competitions

Sponsor photoIf you haven’t been affected by the economy (either directly or know someone who has), it’s likely you’re living in a very remote location. Dan & I have seen some negative things happen to some of our closest friends this past year.

It seems as though everywhere you turn, there’s bad news. Several major flair bartending competitions have been canceled. Bar sales are down. Companies have announced large-scale layoffs. And, major flair cities like Vegas and Orlando are seeing some of the worst home foreclosure rates in the country. One of our  friends’ home value plummeted so much that it would cost them money if they sold their Las Vegas home.

These issues not only take a direct effect on our personal lives, but also professionally, which is why we chose to address the topic in today’s post.

Has the economy diminished flair competition sponsorship money?
According to a recent article from Reuters, the sports industry’s sponsorship spending growth rate is projected to have the smallest increase in 2009 (when last year it was almost double the next-closest category).

Granted this research is focused primarily on mainstream sports like the NBA, MLB, NFL and Nascar. However, flair bartending sponsorships would fall within this category as well. So how has the economy affected competitions, bartenders and flair in general?

We talked with several flair bartending competitors and organizers to find out.

Mike McLean“There has always been a concern about getting sponsorship and support of flair competitions, not just this year,” said Mike McLean, Director of Sales and Marketing for Flairco and Vice President of the FBA. “There were several high profile events canceled this year, but others were able to make it through. I’m hoping that the global economy bounces back in 2010 and we can potentially go after some new sponsors, maybe even mainstream lifestyle brands, to inject life back into the competitive
scene.”

Colin Griffiths, professional flair bartender and event organizer in Las Vegas was more direct. “The state of the economy has effected flair because sponsor companies are under more pressure to justify results for the money they contribute,” he said. “This combined with their pressure to meet their own sales goals makes it harder to find those willing to support our sport.”

The recession, although affecting everyone, is primarily a U.S. symptom. We were curious if the economic ails traveled across the Atlantic to our flair friends in Europe.

Tom DyerTom Dyer, professional flair bartender in London and key organizer with the World Flair Association, said he didn’t really have any concerns about flair competitions not happening due to lack of sponsorship money. “No concerns at all,” he said. “I actually think this is a good thing for flair. Flair is growing so fast that it needs a break.”

Dyer went on to point out that life balance is a good thing and that with so many competitions happening all the time there’s not a lot of time for everything like getting enough practice in on top of a full-time bartending job and a regular life.

“We had very few comps canceled due to the credit crunch and instead saw a lot of new independent comps mushrooming all over the place which is great,” said Tug van den Bergh, professional judge and founding member of the World Flair Association. “Bartenders in Europe are still willing to travel to flair competitions for little money, which is helping to keep our scene very much alive!!”

To further amplify the positive sentiments from the European flair community, Christian Delpech did a recent FlairLive TV interview with Finest Call’s European Sales Representative Bob Jones. Jones reported that as a company, Finest Call is actually spending more on sales and marketing this year than they did last year. He went on to describe his gratitude, knowing that not all companies are in a position to increase spending during these tough times. Although Finest Call is the number one mixer in the U.S., their interest in deepening the brand in Europe is evident.

Griffiths was right. Companies will foot the sponsorship bill when it is justifiable to their corporate goals, no matter the state of the economy. Finest Call is one of the largest flair bartending supporters and has been for many years. They understand that to increase sales of their product they go to those who are the “cheerleaders” or pushers of that product…flair bartenders.

As long as flair organizers, bartenders and supporters understand the connection to corporate goals, approaching potential sponsors for flair competitions is still a viable funding avenue. This isn’t to infer sponsorships will be easy to secure. As McLean stated, 2010 is a new year, and new sponsorship avenues will need to be considered. Overall, though, expectations are positive when looking at the future of flair bartending. With its international presence, mass following and current sponsor support, flair bartending can only grow from here.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: