Nike, Coca-Cola, Doritos, you name it.
Brands that we know and love have seamlessly affiliated with countless sports teams worldwide. Athletes like Michael Jordan, Serena Williams, and Tiger Woods have represented many different brands over the years.
Sports sponsorships are expected to grow to a 90-billion-dollar industry by 2027. Source: Statista
From Little League to the NFL, sports sponsorships raise awareness for a brand and increase business in the process. So how does the promotional products industry play into the mix?
First, we need a little background on where sports marketing began.
Where it All Began
1870s – Tobacco Cards
Tobacco companies wanted to increase sales and customer loyalty by inserting sports star cards into packs of cigarettes. The products flew off the shelves, and sports sponsorships were born!
Notable Sports Sponsorships Timeline:
1928 – Coco-Cola first partnered with the Olympics.
1934 – General Mills creates, “The Breakfast of Champions,” slogan. Each cereal box featured a famous athlete, sponsored by the brand.
1936 – Adidas Founder Adolf Gassler gifted athlete Jesse Owens Adidas merchandise for the 1936 Berlin Games. Owens was deemed the first athlete to receive a promotional product for sponsorship.
1954 – Sportsman’s Park sold its naming rights to brewery Anheuser Busch, the first company to sponsor a stadium. Now home to the Cardinals, Busch Stadium still stands today in St. Louis, Missouri.
1964 – Blue Ribbon Sports is born, the startup company for Nike. Source: Open Media
1980 – Mitsubishi installed the “largest color television in the world,” at Dodgers Stadium and the world of Jumbotrons was born. Source: Fast Signs
How It’s Evolved
Jump forward to today, you can’t walk into a stadium or arena without recognizing a few of your favorite brands. Viewers internalize branded sponsorships from the parking lot to the concession stand without even realizing it. Athletes and teams even take sponsorships to fund their programs and pay their players.
So Why Do Stadiums Need Sponsorships?
Stadiums are expensive to construct, and many teams use arena advertising as a way to make back the investment in the stadium. These partnerships with teams allow companies to display their signage throughout the stadium or venue. Source: Fast Signs
Opportunities for the Promotional Product Industry
Sponsoring sports doesn’t need to start with a Super Bowl ad. If your client locates a local team to support, their company can hit the ground running. Sponsoring sports can reach a wider audience that your client may not connect with on a regular business day. Visual recognition and repetition settle well with prospects, hence when home television became popular so did the world of tv advertisements!
Here are a few steps to send to your clients to help them score a sponsorship for a local home team:
- Start with Who You Know –Talk to local players’ families and those affiliated with the league. Have they had sponsors before and what did it look like?
- Chat with Local Businesses – Connect with local businesses that have sponsored a sports team in previous years. Would this league be a great representation of your company? How can you stand out from the rest?
- Get Creative – Think outside the box. Instead of putting your logo on their jerseys, use customized promotional items for the team or fans!
- Control The Message – Do you want future prospects to visit your website or give you a call? Ensure your message is concise and supports your end goal.
- Track Your Success! – After a season of sponsoring, take note of the number of prospects received. Would you increase or decrease the amount of sponsorship for the next season? Take note of your success! Source: Funding Circle
The future of sports sponsorships is changing every day. With the increasing need for local support, encourage your clients to explore a new marketing avenue with a fun and creative promotional opportunity!
Looking for inspiration on what promo items you can pitch your customers for a sports sponsorship? Here are SAGE’s Top 100 Products from 2021 to give you a head start!