As I’ve often stated I’m not a sports fan but I am entertained by some of the controversy surrounding sports. Take for instance what happened this week in NASCAR. Some earlier court decision was reversed in favor of NASCAR that reinstated NASCAR’s rule of prohibiting the team previously sponsored by Cingular from using the new AT&T Corporate (Death Star) logo even though Cingular has morphed into AT&T Mobility and no longer exists. The stated reason had to do that the old Cingular (orange Splat) logo was grandfathered in somehow taking precedence as the only one allowed even though in name Cingular no longer exists. Does this make any fucking sense to anyone? The team is forced to advertise a product name that you can’t buy anywhere? NASCAR claims this grandfathering agreement prevents their major suppliers, such as tires (Goodyear) and fuel (was Union 76 but not sure who now) from changing their name and confusing everyone. Yeah, right. Like the whole Nextel Sprint merger didn’t throw a wrench into their engine compartment.
OK, let’s go back a few years. I worked for AT&T/Lucent Technologies/Avaya for almost 20 years in various sales support roles. During all that time the single worst sales experience that stands out above (below?) all others was the time, as Lucent, our Charlotte based team called on the higher ups at Charlotte Motor Speedway to pitch our telephony/data related products. We met in the restaurant above the stands with a complete view of the track. One of Bruton Smith’s son was our contact and he quickly pointed out that his organization was focused on their customers, brand recognition by their customers and finally overwhelming loyalty to the brands displayed thru-out the world of NASCAR by those customers. He was equipped with all sorts of facts and figures. What he didn’t have and was unable (or unwilling) to give us, though we repeatedly asked, was his needs in terms of feature and functions for any communications systems in his organization. Not a clue and it seemingly didn’t matter because as it turns out he really wasn’t our customer, he treated us as if we were his customer. We were informed that they didn’t buy products from anyone but rather “bartered” for what they needed. (not that they knew what they needed besides revenue) We were told that they would be willing, for instance, to have the Lucent Technologies logo displayed above one of the grandstands, as he pointed across the track at some unoccupied space, in turn for a yet to be named amount of gear. Never mind that it might not be able to provide him any type of voice or data service that could actually benefit from. Since we were very aware that not very many NASCAR fans were able to drop anywhere from $50,000 up to $5,000,000 on a new phone system we said our goodbyes and turned our attention elsewhere. Was that a mistake? When we explained what happened up the corporate ladder no one in Lucent seemed to care so I guess not. Anyway, after Avaya spun out of Lucent soon after that NASCAR would probably still have forced us to use the old Lucent lipstick smudge/coffee cup stain logo. (though you do see the Avaya logo plastered all over the FIFA World Cup events)