WTH Are Sponsorship Criteria?

Is this the secret formula?

Did you read the BassFan article yesterday about former Forrest Wood Cup champ Michael Bennett bailing from the FLW Tour because he couldn’t get a team deal. If not, it’s a good one, you should read it.

Not picking on FLW here, or Bennett whom I don’t know, just a pertinent example of one of pro bass fishing’s mysteries: What are the criteria for pros (or anyone) getting sponsorship?

Is it accolades (wins, awards)? Personality? Is it who you know? Age? Commitment? Longevity? Other sponsors of the “right” kind?

Probably all of the above and then some. Here’s how I’d rank the above factors just from what I’ve seen over the years:

1. Other sponsors of the “right” kind
Yep, we all know this one.

2. Who you know
Gotta assume that a recommendation from a “sponsoree” counts? Longevity factors in here in that you will have met a bunch of folks, and turnover is low in this biz.

3. Personality
Can be a positive or a negative. In some circles, if you “emit” sunshine “rearward” and keep your mouth shut, you are “our kinda guy.”

4. Accolades
I’ve spoken to guys – well-known pros, not flashes in the pan – who have won the Classic and it didn’t help them…much. Crazy.

5. Everything else
Maybe age counts more for some sponsors, maybe other things count or not, etc.

Let me know if I’m missing anything here.

The bottom line is that half (or more) of the world is left scratching their heads about just what it takes, which is why every manufacturer (aka, sponsor) with a doorbell gets it rung by every fisherman who’s won a tournament, or knows someone who has.

How about some sort of methodology to this madness – or maybe there is one. If so, let me know. Somehow I must’ve missed it….



  1. Chad Keogh

    December 22, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    While I’m certain that “who you know” plays a big part, my guess is that your presentation to potential sponsors has an even bigger effect.

    Is the pro asking for things, but not saying what they’ll do in return? Does the pro have an education in marketing and therefore has an advantage over less educated anglers with more wins/awards? Is the pro sitting back after winning a big event and just expecting the sponsors to come knocking?

    That BassFan article made it sound like Michael Bennett was doing the latter. “I won a million bucks, they should GIVE me sponsorship.” (not a real quote)

  2. BP

    December 22, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    1. Other sponsors of the “right” kind
    Yep, we all know this one.

    I must be stupid because I have no idea what this means.

    Please tell me.

    • Dwain

      December 22, 2010 at 10:05 pm

      they are saying if your current sponsors don’t align with the Tour’s sponsors you might not be considered for a team deal.

      • BP

        December 23, 2010 at 12:38 pm

        That makes perfect sense. I was thinking of “sponsors” more generally than just specifically for the FLW tour.


      • admin (mostly Jay)

        December 24, 2010 at 12:31 pm

        It goes a bit deeper than that, but that’s basically it yeah.

  3. Doc

    December 23, 2010 at 8:36 am

    Wait a minute….he knew FLW needed a commitment from him to fish the tour before being eligible for a sponsor. It appears to me he wanted them to make an exception for him…to be assured a sponsor before committing and since they didn’t, he’s upset? I don’t get it.

    • admin (mostly Jay)

      December 24, 2010 at 12:30 pm

      I didn’t get that part either. Just happened to trigger the whole sponsor Q in my mind.

      • Brian

        December 25, 2010 at 9:09 pm

        From the way I read it, I got the impression that they told him he’d need to be committed and entered into the Tour first, which was exactly what they told him the year before. He jumped in the year before, all on his own dime (30K-40K?), and no further sponsorship offers came.

        They were telling him again this year he needed to jump in and commit first, and since the year before didn’t pan out sponsorship wise w/FLW, he didn’t see where he could afford to put that much more of his own money on the line again without some reasonable hint of a better outcome this year.

        Not saying either side is right or wrong, but it sounds like a good financial decision on his part, though he is obviously disappointed. I think the other point he was trying to make in his argument was that he thought FLW should make some commitments toward team deals with the ‘younger’ up and comers as a way to grow the sport and keep some fresh faces in the game going forward, as opposed to putting a lot of the old stalwarts on the teams who might only be fishing competitively another couple years or so. Call it a better mix of talent, perhaps.

    • Dwain

      December 26, 2010 at 6:25 pm

      They told him the same thing in 2009 then he paid up but got no team deal.

  4. Chad Aaron

    December 25, 2010 at 12:04 am

    I’ve personally been dealing with this issue a lot lately. And from my standpoint, all of the above helps but it also takes hard work, commitment, ability to sell yourself, as well as the product being represented. Because that’s what you are, a representative and salesperson. Accolades may open doors, and who you know may get you an interview, but to get the job your going to have to sell yourself. I was recently told that if a boat show or like event was scheduled for the same week as a tournament I’m in that I was expected to make the show. I’m not complaining at all. There’s only one reason why someone would sponsor me or anyone else and that is if they think I can help them move more product. Just showing up and fishing may work for the KVD’s of this sport, but I’d be willing to bet even they have to make certain appearances.

  5. Charlito

    March 3, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    How about Loyalty? Might pertain to the MB situation. Sure he didn’t get a deal the year before – the tour lost friggin Walmart as a sponsor. Think that hurt them a bit maybe in their ability to provide team deals? I certainly doubt they would have tried to single him out and jack him. Besides, had he done well and won the FLW Cup again and made a bunch of money – do you think we woulda seen this same attitude?

    This is a tour that enabled him to win a million bucks in one event. Sure $30-$40K is a bundle and I really admire the kid for having fiscal restraint and responsibility in this day and age where credit spending is so rampant, but he lost me when he whined about it after the fact. He shoulda just manned up and said I can’t afford to risk the entry fee money because I haven’t been fishing particularly well this past season and I’m worried that without a team deal I would lose too much money. He shoulda understood that in order to be considered – he had to put down the coin – just like everyone else in that position.

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with his decision – just find his entitled attitude a bit unjustified.

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