New Nomination for Numskulls and Nitwits

The world is full of numskulls and nitwits and if we are going to do “God’s work” (the words of Goldman Sachs, not mine) to make this world a better place, we should all join together to expose them.

My latest nomination for numskulls and nitwits of the month are the management leaders of Allianz Life.

Dating back to the days of LifeUSA, sponsorship of professional golfers and golf tournaments has been used for branding the corporate name, recognizing and rewarding the efforts of agents and employees and gaining exposure to customer demographics most likely to purchase annuity products.

Over the years, both LifeUSA and Allianz Life (Allianz was also involved in golf sponsorship prior to merger with LifeUSA) have sponsored a great group of professional golfers. These individuals – men and women – have not only been exceptional golfers but, even more important, great people who worked diligently to put LifeUSA and Allianz in the most favorable light possible for employees, agents, potential customers and policyholders. Besides the personal involvement of the golfers themselves, both LifeUSA and Allianz Life have received millions of dollars in free, highly-favorable branding exposure from worldwide media.

The value of the golf sponsorship as a branding and marketing tool might best be signified by the fact that Allianz Life’s parent, Allianz SE in Germany, has become a significant sponsor of golf in Europe. Never having been involved in golf sponsorship prior to acquiring LifeUSA, Allianz SE is now heavily involved in using golf to create positive brand awareness. Allianz SE has become a highly visible sponsor of the St Andrews Links courses. It sponsors one of the most prestigious amateur tournaments in Europe and has hired profession golfer Paul McGinley as “Allianz Golf Ambassador.”

Now comes word that the nitwits and numskulls of Allianz Life have decided to terminate their relationship with Brett Quigley. Quigley has represented Allianz for over a decade. He is a favorite of the media, often being followed by television during play and in interviews. His play and popularity have garnered Allianz millions in favorable brand exposure. Brett has a reputation for being very fan-friendly (especially when compared to his uncle Dana) and is highly respected on the PGA tour.

Now, I don’t question the right of Allianz management to decide not to sponsor Quigley. (It is hardly the only bad decision they have made!) But, what I do take issue with is the manner and reasoning of their decision.

I do not have direct, first-hand knowledge, but (as they say) I have been informed by “usually reliable sources” that Quigley was notified (I assume by someone other than senior management) that his relationship with Allianz Life would not be renewed. The reasons given for this decision were a) he is not from Minnesota (he was born in Rhode Island but now resides in Florida) and b) he was the only Allianz-sponsored golfer to earn a bonus for his performance in 2009.

If this is the case, then the person who made this decision is either a numskull or a nitwit or is not being honest regarding the reason for the decision. (I wonder if there is another unsaid motivation for this action.)

Using the fact that Quigley is not from Minnesota as a good reason to terminate his relationship with Allianz is simply ludicrous. It is so stupid that it stands by itself and hardly deserves comment. If you follow that logic then you would suggest that Allianz Life only do business in Minnesota.

If true, to tell Quigley that his contract will not be renewed because he was the only golfer to earn a performance bonus is as numskullish as that adjective. After all, it was Allianz Life management that required all sponsored golfers to accept lower guaranteed sponsorship fees in exchange for being paid based on performance. I admit that such an approach is good logic. The better a golfer performs and the more exposure he garners for Allianz, the more he should be paid. But, to then turn around and terminate the golfer who performed the best and gained the most exposure for Allianz is pure insanity. It’s like telling an agent that he will be paid a bonus if he sells more than any other agent, and then a year later terminating the agent because he sold more than others and earned to large a bonus.

Of course, we should not be surprised, this numskull and nitwit type of decision made by Allianz Life management is totally consistent with a bureaucratic style of management and with decisions they have made in the past – particularly as it relates to people and how they are communicated with and treated.

And the Moral of the Story …

Based on the way the management of Allianz Life makes decisions and treats people, maybe a group should get together to buy a life insurance company and compete with Allianz Life. They could contract with Brett Quigley to help brand the company. Of course, that is so long as he was willing to move to Minnesota and agree not to play that well.

2 responses to “New Nomination for Numskulls and Nitwits

  1. I proposed the sponsorship of Chris Perry(local golf phenom out of Ohio State) to Republic Airlines in 1984.Republic was just becoming a national airline by integrating three independent airlines.The memo may have been given ten seconds of attention.Chris Perry exemplified class,battling injuries and eventually competing and winning for an additional 20 years on the Tour.And all he wanted was an airline seat to get to each tournament and RC had many open seats.In exchange he would give clinics and play with important corportate execs whose companies were inportant to RC’s growth.A simple branding idea with tremendous branding and national exposure was in a trash can in less than a minute.

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