Phonak Phonak

Quick, what’s a Phonak? Readers of sports news might recall that the winner of this year’s Tour de France, Floyd Landis, rode for the team sponsored by Phonak. The team is multinational, the company is Swiss, and Landis happens to be American.

Landis’ win propels Team Phonak to fourth place in 2006 ProTour ranks. Estimated cost of this sponsorship – at least 11 million Euros or slightly more than 14 million dollars.

Not insigficant for a $700 million (867 million CHF) company. And that doesn’t include Phonak’s sponsorship of America’s cup yacht racing.

What do you get for 14 big ones? Apparently not that much even with a winner. Phonak has already decided to abandon its marquee position. Next season, the team will be named for iShares. So much for a consistent branding message.

As of this writing, there’s a significant chance that will be the first Tour de France champion to be disqualified. Landis’ picture has been quietly removed from Phonak Cycling’s home page. If Phonak didn’t benefit from the win would they still be tarnished by the disqualification?

Getting back to our lead question, Phonak is a manufacturer of hearing aids and instruments. It markets its products under a variety of brands (micorSavia, Eleva, and eXtra), but does not appear to have products bearing the Phonak brand.

Accouding to its collateral,

“Phonak Hearing Systems is Main Sponsor of the Phonak Cycling Team and counts on the Cycling Team to carry the message of better hearing into the world.”

“Phonak supports the Phonak Cycling Team in 2006 for the seventh consecutive year. Phonak is convinced that hearing fosters communication among people around the globe and counts on its Cycling Team to draw attention to the topic of better hearing.”

“We race for better hearing”

One could imagine a campaign promoting athletes in need of hearing aids or one showing how these devices help people be more active, or many other posibilities at lower costs with positive ROI. As for this one. We’re listening but we’re not hearing this it!