San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl?

Played on December 23, the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl game pitted the barely-ranked Utah Utes against the unranked Cal State Bears. (FYI – Utah won.)

No one, it seems, likes this name of this bowl game.

It’s almost impossible for sports writers and bloggers to mention the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl without ridiculing the name. Gentler critics describe it as the longest name for a bowl game, perhaps in the entire history of bowl games. Others think it is “the least catchiest name in sports.” Some go so far as to call it “grand champion for worst bowl name ever,” such as U.S. News & World Report who included San Diego County Credit Union in its list of “The Worst College Bowl Sponsors.”

Comments from general public on the name hold no punches:

  • “Who the f*** wants to play in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl????”
  • “Come for the low-rate fixed home loans and poisonous plants, stay for the football!”
  • “What’s better than your bowl being named after a plant? Having a local credit union sponsor it!”
  • “San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl? Longest bowl name ever. Like I’m gonna buy your product now. I live in [effing] Alabama.”
  • “How the f*** is a credit union big enough to host a bowl game? I smell a ponzi scheme.”

Reality Check: At seven words and 15 syllables, the name is so long and so unwieldy that it will inevitably get shortened. “SD County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.” “SDCCU Poinsettia Bowl.” Or just the “Poinsettia Bowl.” Can you imagine being the announcer for this game?

San Diego County Credit Union has sponsored the Poinsettia Bowl ever since it was created in 2005. SDCCU recently extended its title sponsorship through 2010, with options for 2011 and 2012. With $4.8 billion in assets, over 200,000 members and 25 branches, San Diego County Credit Union is the largest in its area.

The Poinsettia Bowl committee says it has created an aggregate impact on the local economy of $45.5 million since the game’s inception in 2005. According to the committee, last year’s game generated $17.6 million for the San Diego area.

“With the addition of the Poinsettia Bowl four years ago and its pre-Christmas playing date, we are filling hotel rooms and providing patrons for restaurants and shops during one of San Diego’s slowest weeks of the tourism year,” said 2008 President Larry Baber.

Key Questions:

  • Is any publicity or exposure good, no matter the context?
  • What does this sponsorship cost? If it only cost $50,000, would it be easier to forgive the awkward name?
  • Where is the strategic alignment of audience and opportunity? Why sponsor a nationally-televised bowl game when your geographic field of membership is limited to one county in one state? (The credit union’s field of membership actually includes three counties.)
  • Is the primary San Diego audience likely to make positive connections between the credit union and the impact on the local economy? Or are they more likely to cringe at a strange and silly sounding name for a bowl game (like the rest of America)?

There are now 35 games in the bloated bowl season schedule. Fourteen bowl games are played on- or after January 1, including the venerated FedEx Orange Bowl and the Rose Bowl presented by Citi. Sports fans know that these are the games that matter. There are another 21 bowl games played before New Year’s Day, most of little consequence because they pair teams with records barely above .500. With names like the “R + L Carriers New Orleans Bowl” and “Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl,” it’s not hard to understand why so few people care.

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