Tom Brady, Audi Fumble Cause Marketing Play

It took a fellow cause marketer, Clark Sweat, more than halfway across the country to call my attention to this story in my hometown newspaper on where Tom Brady got that Audi that was involved in a car crash last week.

The buzz here in Boston was that Tom might have been a closet New York Jets fan (the car had New Jersey plates). Fortunately, his loyalty to New England is still intact. But you have to wonder about the connection between his head bone and judgement.

Now The Globe is reporting that Brady got the $97,000 car as part of the sponsorship pact Audi has with Best Buddies, a nonprofit Brady has had a high profile role in for several years.

A spokesman for the car company says,  “As co-sponsors, we provide vehicles to Best Buddies and to Tom Brady. Part of it is appreciation for his participation with Best Buddies.’’

There is no direct sponsorship agreement between Brady and Audi.

Really.

So Audi is a sponsor of Best Buddies and its signature fundraising bike ride from Boston to Hyannis. As part of the deal, they give the nonprofit cars to drive. That's cool. Although I wonder how many $100k cars the staff at Best Buddies are driving.

Then there's Brady. He has no official relationship with Audi, yet he accepts an expensive car from them in appreciation of his volunteer work with Best Buddies. Beats a t-shirt, doesn't it?

The right response from Brady would seem to be "Thanks, but give the car or some money to Best Buddies instead. I'm the highest paid player in NFL history, if I want a car I'll buy one. If you want to give me a car, sign a a sponsorship deal with me."

Audi overstepped its bounds and took too many liberties with their relationship with Best Buddies. That's my position, but you could take another. Audi may have been acting in the cause's best interests by keeping a key fundraising asset engaged and happy. Tom Brady has probably helped Best Buddies raise millions. Isn't a car lease for the star player cheap insurance?

And what about Brady. He wasn't hurt in last week's accident, but his judgement in accepting the car appears to be dead on arrival. Should he rethink from whom he gets his cars? Or is it a much deserved cause marketing perk?