Shortly before Christmas, Vodafone UK announced that it was not renewing its sponsorship of the English cricket team when its four-year deal ends in 2010.
The news ends a 12-year association, and comes as pressure mounts on sponsors of sport events and teams as a result of the global financial crisis.
Vodafone New Zealand's head of sponsorship, Richard Howarth, however, believes the global credit situation has nothing to do with the move.
"Sponsorships usually have a life span of five to seven years and then you either need to do something to change it out and freshen it up or you need to look at something different."
Vodafone New Zealand was at a similar point four years ago with its association with the NRL's Warriors. But it stuck with them, choosing instead to introduce a supporters' club to breathe new life into the relationship.
More than 32,000 people now belong to the club. Members receive perks, including weekly text alerts from captain Steve Price, as well as merchandise and event invitations.
Howarth said that among Vodafone One Tribe members - who include Telecom customers - Vodafone has a brand preference score of 89 per cent.
Such is One Tribe's success that similar clubs are planned for Vodafone's rugby and netball sponsorships.
Indeed, despite tough times it seems sponsorship is unlikely to be a casualty.
If anything, Howarth is pointing to a ramping up of Vodafone's sponsorship activity, not just in sport, but also in music.
Around half of Vodafone New Zealand's sponsorship activity is music-related. Howarth said in most of Vodafone's other markets, music patronage would only account for around 10 to 20 per cent of total sponsorship.
Australia doesn't even do music sponsorship, he said.
Most significant here is the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards, which has another two years to run in the three-year contract. The partnership dates back to 2004, and Howarth said dollar for dollar, the music awards are on par with the company's rugby and netball collaborations.
This year, the televised music awards drew an audience of more than 800,000 - up from 330,000 a year earlier thanks to a repeat screening on TV3.
"Music's really interesting because it tends to be a wider demographic. It appeals to more of a female audience and a wider age group."
Howarth said the telco this year fought to shift the awards venue from Aotea Centre to the Vector Arena to include more fans.
"Rather than it being about 1500 people, primarily with an industry focus, it's now about the fans."
Events such as Christian music festival Parachute and Christchurch's Southern Amp are also significant features.
But these events were not regarded as an opportunity to sell.
"From a sponsorship perspective it's about really good brand experience and giving our customers a good time, but it also does directly relate back to a commercial side of the business in that we can use it to promote our music services."
Mark Glynn, senior lecturer in marketing at AUT, said the emphasis on music sponsorship made sense.
"A sponsorship like that would actually reinforce the benefits of Vodafone. What you're hoping for is some of those associations with that event sort of rub off on their brand."
The only drawback is that if any event - particularly sport - doesn't do well, it's largely out of the control of the sponsor.
"If the sports team doesn't win, the sponsorship doesn't have the same exposure."
- ADDITIONAL REPORTING: AP