22 of the most awkward sports sponsorship publicity photos from the past decade

Sports sponsorship announcements tend to be banal affairs.

There’s usually a boring press conference where nobody says anything of interest. And then there’s the photoshoot where the team’s manager and the sponsor’s CEO exchange a polite handshake. Everybody goes home, and it’s mostly all forgotten about by the next day.

But there have been some sponsorship photoshoots that are too awkward — some painfully bad — to just pass us by. They need to be shared. And shared again years later. We’ve collated some of the best examples from the past decade or so.

All our Christmasses came at once in October 2000 when Vodafone announced its sponsorship deal with Manchester United.

Ole Gunnar Solskjær (far right) isn't posing for the publicity shot. He's ringing his agent to demand a contract review.

'I was once the most respected footballer in Norway.'

What larks it must have been to be at Fulham Football club in 2001, when the team announced its new sponsorship deal with Pizza Hut.

Former England manager Sven-Göran Eriksson was super excited when Pepsi announced a sponsorship deal with the Football Association in 2003. 'I promise I'll smile properly in the next one.'


The Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games/National Bank sponsorship announcement saw the chairman and chief exec of each respective organisation bundling themselves over hurdles. 'Maybe we should have left this one to the athletes?'

That time when hotel chain Hilton thought it would be a good idea to deck the USA Gymnastics team in its robes and towels to announce their partnership in 2011.

On the face of it, this photo looks like everyone is thoroughly enjoying themselves at the AFL club St Kilda/Bill Express sponsorship shoot. Then you look into the eyes of the player sat on the bottom-right.

Props to whoever from Australia's Collingwood FC got sign-off to just rip up the logo of the company that had just pumped millions of dollars into the club's bank account back in 2005.

Sir Richard Branson was a man outta control when Virgin signed on as the title sponsor for the London Marathon back in 2010.

We hope no cameramen were hurt at the New Zealand/ASB sponsorship press conference in 2010.

An unlikely, dainty leg arrangement for a burly rugby player. Nick Easter of Harlequins and England at the QBE sponsorship launch in 2010.

If you can't carry the whole car, just bring half! Ferrari drivers Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso (both center) announcing the team's Kaspersky sponsorship in 2010.

Spot the odd one out at the Wood Brothers sponsorship announcement at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2011.

'Nope!' Basketball player Jenna O'Hea publicizing an Australian Olympic Committee sponsorship announcement in 2011.

Cameraman: 'Honestly, this will look great in the final edit.' England cricket captain Andrew Strauss with ECB title sponsor Investec's brand mascot in 2011.

'Lean into him, like you've been pals for years. Like this isn't weird at all! Just an everyday occurrence on the cricket pitch. That's it, Andrew, you're getting it!'

There's not a lot you can do when your star player turns up to your publicity shoot with a black eye. All Black captain Richie McCaw at the team's AIG sponsorship announcement in 2012.

But his team had a cunning idea for the solo images: Just stick half of his face in the shade!

Port Adelaid and Renault perhaps wish they'd rehearsed vice-captain Brad Ebert getting in and out of the car ahead of the media announcement back in 2013.

There's nothing quite like a brand-new, shiny, sponsorship announcement. Former Australian keeper Marc Bosnich wishing he'd dressed down for the ME Bank announcement back in 2013.

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