Tod’s, the Italian leather goods specialist, has decided to pony up €25 million (about $34 million) to restore the crumbling Colosseum in Rome, Italy. But this isn’t a donation — it’s a sponsorship campaign. Reuters reports that “the branding will be discreet, such as relatively small placards at the base of the Colosseum recognizing Tod’s as the sponsor.” The company will also film the work and use the footage in its campaigns. We guess it’s true what they say: there’s no such thing as a free restoration of one of the world’s most oldest, most famous pieces of architecture.
The city reached out to a number of companies for a little financial assistance in repairing the building after a piece of it fell through a protective netting last spring. The Colosseum only gets €500,000 (about $679,900) a year for maintenance. It needs about ten times that much.
So while it’s great that Tod’s is stepping up to save a building that’s only 50 years younger than Jesus Christ, we don’t know that the world will be comfortable with one of its most cherished landmarks being turned into a marketing exercise. We also don’t know what’s more offensive: the idea that there’s someone in this world who thinks it’s OK to turn the Colosseum into a piece of branded content, or that the company couldn’t just donate the money and allow the press around the money to happen organically.
Tod’s-funded work on the Colosseum is set to start in March and will take about two years to complete. We have our fingers crossed that by the end of the job, the company will have decided to be a little more altruistic.