Was anyone raising eyebrows last week when the Derby Festival announced that its list of sponsors included E.ON U.S.?
Remember, this is the public company that just absorbed the costs of two of the most expensive storms in history and had its request for a rate increase basically denied by the state’s Public Service Commission. Ratepayers will end up paying for the storm repairs, of course, over a period of at least five years.
The company could use some P.R., I suppose, but even its employees are questioning the money going to the sponsorship. Some wonder why the company spends so much on sponsorships and advertising when it doesn’t have any competition.It’s hard to imagine rate-payers, absorbing the cost of storm clean-up, getting a warm feeling about LG&E because it’s spending six figures sponsoring a fireworks show.
Dollar figures weren’t announced, but the KDF says Thunder costs $1 million, and it has four major sponsors. So let’s just say it’s a six-figure sponsorship.
In defending the expense, spokesperson Chris Whelan talked about full hotels and restaurants and $31 million coming in to the local economy.
As part of its sponsorship, the company gets a big hunk of space at the Belvedere, which it uses to reward employees, provided they make a run through a qualifying gauntlet, according to a staffer who sent along this e-mail:
But, like all suits, they make stupid decisions that leave us scratching our heads sometimes. Take for instance our sponsorship of Thunder. Now I know it stimulates our local economy and is “free” to the public. But did you know that once again we’re having a “private” viewing party on the Belvedere? Sure, it’s being billed as the kick-off to our own charity giving campaign, but there are so many strings attached to getting tickets that as an employee, it’s too damn frustrating to want to take part.
Company staffers say that while there hasn’t been any official call for cutting expenses and there have been no cost-related layoffs, everyone’s being careful about what they spend at the utility company. That is, except for the sponsorship department.