Bailouts and Bowl Games (1/8/09)

As many financial institutions received federal bailout funds over the past few months, many people have been complaining about what they consider gross misuses of that money.

And many of those complaints are valid.

But gripes about bailout recipients continuing to spend money to sponsor this year's college football bowl games are simply off the mark.

Recently, representatives of groups like the National Taxpayers Union - as well as members of Congress - have called such expenditures frivolous, claiming that companies getting huge government handouts shouldn't be allowed to spend any money in such a fashion.

But such reasoning is wrong. Advertising isn't frivolous. It's part of any sensible business plan. And advertising is exactly what these bowl sponsorships provide.

The businesses that do the best job of surviving hard times are those that continue to advertise and promote themselves - not the ones who cut their advertising budget before anything else.

Yes, attaching its name to the Rose Bowl did cost Citigroup a lot of cash. But it was small potatoes compared to the visibility and credibility it provided a company that desperately needs to survive one of its roughest periods.

Company executives spending hundreds of thousands on retreats at luxury spas? Now they have some serious explaining to do. But continuing to promote your brand in a positive way to the American public?

That's just good business.

I'm Bill Lamb, and that's my...Point of View.