Breaking Up Is Hard To Do: Half-Baked Sponsorship Yields Valuable Lessons

Jonathan A. Jensen and Barbara Osborne

Nature’s Bakery (NB), a company that had never invested in sport sponsorship before, signed a three year, $45.63 million sponsorship agreement with Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) in 2015. Despite initial optimism between the new partners, by June 2016, the relationship began to erode. In January 2017, NB sent a letter of termination to SHR for violating the agreement. SHR responded by filing a lawsuit against NB for breach of contract, and NB fought back with counterclaims of their own. After airing their diff- erences in the press and in court documents, the parties eventually settled the case in late May, 2017. While the settlement does not establish legal precedent, the public records generated through the dispute between SHR and sponsor Nature’s Bakery provide a rare insight into the closely-guarded inner workings of a failed major sport sponsorship.