Power of Sports Promotional Licensing

An Inside Look at Brand Association

The dynamism of the sports marketing world is a vibrant microcosm that represents a unique blend of brand strategies, fan engagement, and economic value creation. A prominent aspect of this rich ecosystem is sports promotional licensing, a tactic leveraged by numerous brands to propel their visibility, resonance, and growth. This concept revolves around the establishment of legally binding agreements enabling brands to associate themselves with sports teams, leagues, or venues. That’s why I wanted to dig in a bit and explore how this symbiotic relationship unfolds across these three sectors with real-life examples and discuss how each form of promotional licensing is unique.

Association with Sports Teams

Brand association with sports teams is an age-old practice that continues to burgeon with the evolution of the sports industry. With these relationships, brands get the opportunity to enjoy the spillover benefits of the team’s popularity, credibility, and reputation.

  1. Nike’s partnership with FC Barcelona is an archetypical example. By being the official kit supplier, Nike places its logo on the players’ uniforms, gaining immense visibility and association with the club’s success.

  2. General Motors, via their Chevrolet brand, has been the jersey sponsor for Manchester United since 2014. This connection allows Chevrolet to reach Manchester United’s vast global fan base.

  3. Emirates Airline has a sponsorship deal with the NFL team, the Dallas Cowboys, making it an ideal example of a non-sporting brand leveraging a sports team’s popularity.

Association with Sports Leagues

Licensing with entire sports leagues offers brands exposure to a broader and more diversified audience. The brand doesn’t just benefit from one team’s popularity but from the collective appeal of all teams in the league.

  1. Anheuser-Busch InBev, the beer conglomerate, holds exclusive rights as the official beer sponsor of the NFL. This partnership offers exposure during all NFL games and events and the possibility to create specific NFL-themed marketing campaigns.

  2. PepsiCo has an extensive agreement with the NBA, allowing it to connect with the massive audience of basketball fans through several product lines, including Pepsi, Gatorade, and Tostitos.

  3. Adidas’s association with Major League Soccer (MLS) is another noteworthy example. Adidas gets the right to manufacture all team jerseys and merchandise, creating a brand presence throughout the league.

Association with Sports Venues

Finally, brand association with sports venues provides companies with a physical space for marketing their products or services. This offers brands tangible interaction with fans and creates an immersive brand experience.

  1. AT&T’s naming rights for AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, is an excellent example. The brand’s logo is prominently displayed throughout the venue, and its telecom services are extensively integrated within the stadium.

  2. Mercedes-Benz’s sponsorship of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the home of the New Orleans Saints, and Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the home of the Atlanta Falcons, creates a physical testament to their brand, reinforcing their image of luxury and performance.

  3. Barclays’ sponsorship of the Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets, creates numerous branding opportunities both inside and outside the arena, as well as a platform to showcase their financial services to thousands of spectators at each event.

A Look at Integration of Sports Promotional Licensing

Verizon, one of the leading telecommunications companies in the world, has a comprehensive partnership with the National Football League (NFL), encompassing multiple facets of promotional licensing. The relationship between the two entities stretches across association with the league, individual teams, and stadiums, making Verizon’s work with the NFL a robust and holistic case study.

Association with the National Football League

Verizon holds an impressive multi-year agreement as an official sponsor of the NFL, providing extensive access and engagement opportunities with a broad fan base. This sponsorship sees the company running advertisements and campaigns around NFL events, creating NFL-themed promotions for Verizon customers, and having exclusive rights for several in-game enhancements. For example, the Verizon Up loyalty program offers unique NFL experiences, including VIP game tickets, thereby fostering a deeper connection between the brand and the NFL fans.

Association with NFL Teams

Verizon’s partnership also extends to specific NFL teams. For instance, they have long-standing partnerships with the New York Jets and the New York Giants. These individual team partnerships allow Verizon to align its brand with the distinct values and characteristics of these teams. They can create bespoke marketing campaigns that resonate with the specific fan base of each team. For example, Verizon could engage in localized initiatives or exclusive fan experiences like meet-and-greets with players, which resonate on a deeper level with the fans of these teams.
Association with NFL Stadiums

Lastly, Verizon’s association with stadiums showcases how the company leverages physical spaces for brand activation. The company holds the naming rights for the Verizon Center in Washington D.C., which, while not an NFL venue, exemplifies their approach to venue partnerships. For NFL stadiums, the partnership involves technology and service integration. For instance, in the MetLife Stadium, home to the New York Giants and New York Jets, Verizon has installed 5G Ultra Wideband service to enhance the fan experience. This technology integration allows fans to access unique game-day features like multiple camera angles, augmented reality overlays, and real-time stats – all of which require the high bandwidth and low latency provided by 5G networks.

Through the incorporation of its own technology into the sports viewing experience, Verizon not only promotes their brand but also tangibly demonstrates the capabilities and advantages of its services, creating an immersive, interactive, and enriched experience for fans.

Verizon’s partnership with the NFL demonstrates a multi-layered approach to sports promotional licensing. By associating with the league, individual teams, and stadiums, Verizon optimizes its reach, visibility, and connection with fans while also showcasing the power and potential of its telecommunication services.

Each of these licensing relationships is distinct in its approach. The association with sports teams fosters brand alignment with the team’s specific traits and allows the brand to tap into the team’s fanbase. Leagues, on the other hand, offer more extensive exposure across various teams and regions, making it a more comprehensive engagement platform. Lastly, venues provide a physical marketing space and a direct platform for brand interaction with fans. This diversity enables brands to choose a promotional licensing route that best aligns with their marketing objectives and audience targeting strategies.

Sports promotional licensing is a versatile tool for brands to gain visibility, reach target audiences, and align themselves with the energy and loyalty that characterize sports fandom. These partnerships can bring to life marketing campaigns that resonate on an emotional level, providing invaluable consumer engagement.

The association with sports teams, leagues, and venues each presents a unique flavor of promotional licensing. A brand’s decision to partner with one or all, of these entities depends on their marketing objectives, budget constraints, and desired level of visibility. Team and athlete partnerships can provide a powerful emotional connection with fans, league partnerships can offer wider visibility and access to a diverse fanbase, and venue partnerships can deliver a tangible and experiential brand presence.

Moreover, these associations should be symbiotic, benefiting both the brand and the sports entity. Brands get to ride the wave of excitement and loyalty surrounding the sport, and in return, teams, leagues, and venues receive substantial financial support. This relationship underscores the importance of finding a good fit between the brand’s values and those of the sport or team, as fans will ultimately endorse or reject these partnerships based on their authenticity.

In the world of sports marketing, promotional licensing stands as a formidable tool in the arsenal of brands, delivering impressive results when executed effectively. By understanding the distinct advantages of partnering with teams, leagues, and venues, brands can make informed decisions that drive their marketing initiatives to new heights.

Ultimately, it’s about harnessing the passion of sports fans and integrating the brand into their experience, creating memorable moments that extend far beyond the game.