Bangkok - Automobile manufacturer Volvo on Friday said it will not cut back on its sponsorship of golf, despite a global economic downturn that has forced redundancies and prompted rivals to slash spending on the sport.
Per Ericsson, president and CEO of Volvo's event management, said slumping demand meant the need for marketing was greater than ever and Volvo's longstanding investment in golf - over 20 years - would not change.
"These are exceptional times, we've been laying off staff in all fields, we have to downsize," Ericsson told Reuters. "But we still need marketing and the biggest thing about sponsorship is consistency."
Volvo has opted to halt production for 20-25 days in the first quarter of 2009 as a result of declining truck sales, with other automobiles makers, many with sizable investment in the sport, making similar cutbacks.
BMW, which pumps millions of dollars into golf worldwide, sponsoring tours in Europe and the US, has pulled out of the Asia Open, founded in 2001 and co-sanctioned by the Asian and European Tours. It has since disappeared from the 2009 calendar.
Toyota, Honda and Lexus are reviewing their sponsorship of golf while GM, whose Buick brand backs two US PGA events, last month said promotional spending would be cut, but it remained committed to golf.
Ericsson said Volvo will not reduce prize money at its big three events - the China Open, World Matchplay and Masters of Asia - and will honour all existing contracts.
"We've never broken a contract. To pull out of this sport or cut back in a big way now would be a waste of money," he added.