Sponsor Insights

Product Placements Offer Sponsors the Chance to “Go Viral”

In this golden age of social media, brands leap at the chance to be part of a moment that could “go viral” and rack up millions of views. Sporting events offer prime opportunities for this all-powerful marketing tactic, which can make even a little-known brand an instant household name. 

Last Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series Pit Boss 250 at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin–where Kaulig Racing driver A.J. Allmendinger scored his first win of the 2023 season, racing to victory after scoring the pole position and leading the first and last 14 laps–is a perfect example.  

After doing donuts as the crowd cheered, Allmendinger headed to the podium, where his team was waiting. Then came a golden moment captured forever in a photo–and soon splashed across the internet–that brands dream about: the grinning champion jumping from the top of his #10 Chevrolet Camaro waving a can of Celsius–the energy drink that sponsors Kaulig Racing–with his teammates celebrating behind him. The Celsius Chevrolet team car signage features a Celsius can, painted with the brand’s colors, next to the number 10.

More than 500 brands used product placement to activate their sponsorships last year, led by the Non-Alcoholic Beverages, Alcohol, and Food Products categories (in that order). Gatorade, Coca-Cola, and Powerade activated most often within these categories. 

  • During the Kansas City Chiefs’ celebration following last month’s Super Bowl LVII, star tight end Travis Kelce wore a Bud Light can pendant created by GLD, a Miami-based jewelry brand famous for collaborating with the world’s top athletes and musical artists, which partnered with Bud Light for the championship game. Patrick Mahomes’ deal with Coors Light also took center stage thanks to the team’s win: during the Chiefs’ victory parade in Kansas City, the world-class quarterback was never without a Coors Light in hand–even during his on-stage speech. 
  • As part of Spanish sherry maker Tio Pepe’s sponsorship of the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell tennis tournament last April, the brand gifted a Jeroboam of its Vilarnau Cava to tournament champ Carlos Alcaraz–a truly larger-than-life activation that saw him sip from the huge bottle as he relished his win. 
  • Snickers enjoyed its own star turn and primo partnership activation during the 2022 NFL Draft, when #5 pick Kayvon Thibodeaux–moments after being selected by the New York Giants–posed with a Snickers bar labeled “Drafted.” 
  • Boston Red Sox sponsor, New Balance, released a limited-edition, 300-pair “Fenway Champs” sneaker to commemorate the team’s World Series win in 2018. These days, Red Sox mascot Wally rocks New Balance kicks at Fenway Park. 
  • At the 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship, which kicked off March 17th at Florida’s Sebring International Raceway, Michelin supplied tires for 25 of the 37 entries for the 1000 Miles of Sebring, and for all entrants of Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. In past years’ races, the iconic Michelin Man joined the winning drivers on the podium for a photo opp. 
  • On the entertainment front, Lays’ partnership with Bravo’s “Watch What Happens Live” means its snacks are front and center as guests nibble and chat with host Andy Cohen about pop culture and celebrities in the news. 
  • During last years Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, P-Diddy showed off his new Ciroc and DeLeon tequila bottles on stage while in front of millions of viewers live on NBC. 
  • Podcast studios have also become a unique space for brands to position their products. As YouTube continues to gain popularity across the podcast industry, Labatt Blue, WhistlePig Whiskey, and Pink Whitney have all leveraged Barstool Sports podcast studios to showcase their brand.

Out of Home Activations

Out Of Home (OOH) properties have been getting more use and visibility in the sponsorship world due to the unique ways brands have been able to leverage this asset. A wide variety of brands leverage OOH through car (and city bus) wraps, sponsorship logo placements and elevated activities. The OOH industry has been on the incline due to the power of technology (ever heard of 3D printing?). Here are some insights into how OOH properties—and how some brands are taking their marketing campaigns to the next level.

Overall, the Out Of Home Property sponsorship is growing more now than ever. You will not only see these sponsorships in airports but you will see them in malls, bike shares and outdoor advertising. This side of sponsorship is increasing now more than ever and the start of this big part of sponsorship has just scratched the surface. 

NHL Winter Classic 2023

The 2023 National Hockey League (NHL) Winter Classic took place at Fenway Park in Boston yesterday. Discover Financial Services and Truly, both sponsors of the NHL, had a large presence during the broadcast as well as across the entire venue with activities and events for fans in attendance.

Check out some of the activations brands had before and during the game.



Laver Cup | Activations

The 2022 Laver Cup was held over the weekend at O2 Arena in London, England.

ROLEX, the founding parter of the Cup, along with Mercedes-Benz AGHEAD & UPS were some of the brands activating during the tournament.

NFL Training Camp Activations

Over 300 brands have activated across the 32 NFL team training camps in the lead-up to the league’s 103rd season kickoff on September 8th. 

Not surprisingly, the domestic beer subcategory contains 2 of the top 6 most active brands in training camp sponsorships–Bud Light & Miller Lite–whose partnerships with NFL teams last season numbered 27 and 17, respectively. Another 13 alcohol brands also had training camp activations.

Media was a category leader in activations among the most teams. Local TV & radio stations comprised the majority of these brands, with activations or signage with 18 teams across NFL camps.

Healthcare brands–training camps’ third most active category–provided useful products for steamy summer days, distributing free sunscreen, water, and hand sanitizer to loyal fans who came out to root for their favorite teams as they prepared for the upcoming season.

Cutting-edge, fan-first mobile app Socios.com is cropping up across the league after announcing partnerships with 14 teams this offseason. One of its most notable deals this training camp: the naming rights to the New England Patriots indoor practice facility, now known as the Socios.com FieldHouse. 

Meanwhile, the Indianapolis Colts and Marvel Entertainment announced another singular collaboration: Marvel activations and handouts throughout the season will feature Colts players, mascots, and cheerleaders as superheroes, based on their personality traits.

On the culinary front, Utility provider Xcel Energy showcased its “Vikings Table” custom-built food truck at the Minnesota Vikings camp, where it served up food and drinks to fans. During the NFL season, the gleaming purple truck will provide free healthy meals and nutritional education to underserved youth across the Greater Twin Cities area, in partnership with the Minnesota Vikings Foundation.

2022 Citi Open

Nick Kyrgios won Washington’s 2022 Citi Open, his second Citi Open championship in just over three years.

Citi was the title sponsor for this event. Host sponsors included Kastle SystemsEvents DCCityRidgeEmirates and Tennis Channel.

Citi Open

Citi Open pt.2

MLS All-Star Skills Challenge

SponsorUnited was on the ground at the 2022 MLS All-Star Skills Challenge. Below are the top 3 most commonly seen brands during the Minneapolis-based event.

Event Activations:
Old Spice

ESPN Broadcast:
Frontier Communications

Check out the graphic below to see how these brands activated during the event.

MLS ALL-Star Week (7)

Theme Park Sponsorships

The Coca-Cola Company, Snickers, and PepsiCo have the most partnerships with amusement parks.

We highlight some of the top in-venue activations and assets SponsorUnited has captured at parks in the past year.

Amusement Parks

Wimbledon Activations

Congratulations to Novak Djockovic and Elena Rybakina for taking home the men’s and women’s singles title in the 100th anniversary of Wimbledon at Centre Court.

Take a look at some the unique ways brands activated at the 14 day tournament.

Wimbledon Activation Spotlight

ALGS | Activation Spotlight

Day 2 of the $2M ALGS Year 2 Championship and OpTic Gaming is currently leading all 40 teams.

Take a look at some the unique assets and activations from Legion and Monster Energy taking place at the 4 day tournament.

Apex Legends Global Series Activation Spotlight