Montgomery and Hollingsworth pack impressive 1-2 punch
No one’s a big fan of salespeople coming to your door, but it’s a different matter when they’re Jon Montgomery and Mellisa Hollingsworth.
Turns out they have something worth selling, too.
That’s really what they’ve got on offer in knocking on the doors of corporate Canada in Toronto this week looking for a new title sponsor for Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton, after they lost longtime supporter VISA. They’ve got flashy billboards like the one above up in Toronto, but the athletes are definitely their most marketable commodity.
What Canadian wasn’t motivated when they saw Montgomery win his gold medal at the Whistler Olympics. He’d like you to envisage a sponsorship that sees him going to schools on behalf of your company.
“I’m a product of a guy coming to my school – Theoren Fleury – teaching us that big things can happen to small guys from small towns,” said Montgomery on a stop at the Star on Thursday. “That spoke volumes to me. I embodied that and took it forward in my education and every day life. That’s what Canadians can really benefit from by supporting athletes in Canada. It has a ripple effect that is incredibly profound.”
As Hollingsworth said: “It’s more than just the logo on our race suit or our sled. It ‘s really a partnership and about the journey going forward and being able to interact with us. That’s something we’ve kind of been getting a lot of feedback from some media, who think this is such a new initiative, a new way of doing things, the athletes coming to town instead of the marketing director.”
It also speaks to the desperation involved. It’s not an optimum time for the athletes to be doing this – they leave for competition in Europe in a week – but the association knows the athletes are their best ambassadors.
“Most of us have done something else prior to becoming bobsleigh and skeleton athletes,” said Montgomery. “The messages we can bring and deliver to corporate clients and companies are invaluable and something that speaks to every day folks, because in all honesty I’m an every day folk, Mel’s an every day folk.”
Montgomery and Hollingsworth could probably weather the storm without a new sponsors through the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics because of private sponsors, but would reach those Games on fumes and their results would likely be compromised. It’s vital they find sponsors to replace the $500,000 hole in their budget.
“The program’s longevity? It would be over after 2014,” said Montgomery. “There would be nobody coming up through the ranks that would be able to foot those kinds of bills, pay those kinds of dollars to be able to play this game.
“We’re looking to get more people on board so that we can compete with the likes of the Germans, who have massive, massive, multi-million dollar R & D budgets just for their equipment development.”
Montgomery and Hollingsworth really don’t want to contemplate not being successful in this venture.The program has won more than 200 World Cup medals over the past 10 years.
“I think Canadians see the value in an investment in athletes and in a great sport organization like Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton,” said Montgomery. “I have great confidence in us as a group and in what we’ve done and what we’ve proven and what we’re capable of doing. I believe it will all come together.
“I’d be a little more worried if we didn’t have as great a group of athletes as the ones we’ve got. If we were resting on our laurels and relying on people who aren’t capable of stringing a couple of sentences together in an eloquent fashion to deliver a key message, I’d be a lot more worried. But I’m not. We’ve got great athletes and we’ve got success behind us.”