SponsorUnited had courtside seats for the first day of the U.S. Open, when a slew of fans–and brands–descended on the USTA Billie Jean King Tennis Center for the celebrated two-week event.
This year, Cadillac replaced Mercedes-Benz as the elite tournament’s official vehicle, a long-term agreement that was announced in mid-August. The American carmaker’s presence was felt from the start, thanks to the fleet of vehicles that transport players and staff around New York during the two weeks of play stationed outside the tournament complex.
Inside the tennis center, Cadillac’s sponsorship gives the brand net signage on all 17 tournament courts at the Open, including practice courts and the match courts seen on ESPN, the event’s broadcast partner.
Located directly next to Arthur Ashe Stadium–the tournament’s premier venue–the Cadillac Pavilion features an immersive experience for fans that showcases the brand’s plans to be fully electric powered by the end of this decade, as well as its new electric SUV, the Lyriq, onsite for visitors to ogle. Along with the pavilion activation, Cadillac placed another Lyriq vehicle next to the practice courts for passers-by to peruse.
Another marquee sponsor, JP Morgan Chase, enjoyed pride of place at the Open with its Chase Lounge, located near the center’s entrance and exclusively accessible to cardholders.
American Express, a partner of the U.S. Open since 1994, is also making a splash with its Amex Fan Experience venue. Activations include glow tennis–a virtual game where fans volley a neon ball back and forth on a digital court–tennis-themed nail art, and a cardholder-only lounge where fans can enjoy refreshments while charging their devices. The venue also features a mini tennis court, a tennis-ball version of Connect 4, and a claw machine where skillful fans can win an Amex radio to listen to the tournament matches on ESPN.
Other brands are showcasing an array of predominantly tech-driven activations alongside the non-stadium courts. Wilson Sporting Goods’ virtual reality activation allows fans to don a headset that inserts them into a tennis match, while CHUBB sponsors a game where they pick up a racquet to “hit” a virtual ball that splatters virtual paint across a screen. Meanwhile, Chase’s outsize activation invites fans to play an array of video games, and also offers a photo opp in a mirrored selfie photo booth. Moderna gives fans the chance to sign a screen and have their signature emailed to them on a selfie, while a U.S. Open campaign, #BeOpen, lets fans use a selfie to create a GIF.
Besides touting its sleek seat design and in-flight leg space with a display and photo opportunity, Emirates Airlines also sponsored the NextGen Kids Zone, which offers a variety of onsite activities for little tennis fans like basketball, hockey, football, soccer and other sports.
For fatigued fans needing a pick-me-up, IHG Hotels & Resorts offers massages for joining their membership and rewards program.
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.
Check out the graphic below to see how these brands activated during the event.
The 2022 Call of Duty League Championships took place in Los Angeles from August 4th-7th, and SponsorUnited was there covering the action.
Mountain Dew and MTN DEW GAME FUEL featured over 10 unique assets during the four-day run–including an on-stage commercial live at the event, product handouts, and concourse signage including a 360 ribbon billboard inside the venue. The soda brand also posted on social media throughout the tournament. Its efforts generated the highest average engagement rate (.07) among brands sponsoring the CDL.
Speaking of engagement, Zenni’s Kickoff Classic Bracket was the top post across all 3 social media platforms, with a combined score of over 19,000 followers. In the last 12 months, the social media partnership between the optical brand and the CDL featured 23 branded posts, for a total engagement of over 40,000. Zenni Optical ranks third in total posts and engagement among CDL partnerships behind Mountain Dew and MTN DEW GAME FUEL, respectively. Nearly a quarter (24%) of Zenni’s deals are within Esports.
Technology, beverage non-alcoholic, and leisure/recreation comprise the top 3 brand categories that sponsor CDL with an even split, each owning 16% of the league’s total portfolio. Moving against the current trend in the sports and entertainment industry, digital deals are declining in the CDL–down 9% versus last year–while sponsorships have climbed 7% over the same period.
As the Esports industry’s explosive growth–jump-started by the pandemic in early 2020–continues, CDL’s fan base is also steadily expanding, with a 37% increase in followers on Twitter, FB, and Instagram in 2022 compared to last year.
The final match–which saw England win its first-ever major women’s championship with a 2-1 victory over Germany–also set new records for attendance and broadcast viewership, with over 87,000 fans and 17.5 million viewers in the UK, respectively.
Fifteen brands leveraged the tournament’s unprecedented spotlight as sponsors, with visibility on social media and at the venues. Healthcare brand Grifols’ many sponsorship assets included signage on the video board, sponsored content via email, and social media posts of the tournament’s top scorer, Beth Mead.
Heineken had a unique opportunity as presenting sponsor of the pregame warm-up for some of the matches, which included a live DJ set.
As the presenting sponsor of the “player of the match” for all 31 games, VISA enjoyed prime positioning, with its logo front and center on the trophy. VISA also scored the most social posts with the UEFA Women’s Champions League with 72–nearly double those of second-place Heineken.
VISA’s social posts with the UEFA outnumbers all other brands in 2022, while Heineken scored the highest total engagement with the league, with 160,000 followers across 46 posts. Heineken also leads in highest average engagement per post, at over 3,000 followers.
VISA and Heineken also created campaigns celebrating women’s empowerment surrounding the tournament. Heineken launched a campaign in May that encourages fans of all genders to show their passion for women’s football. VISA’s campaign, unveiled last month across audio, digital, and print formats, leveraged the tagline, “When more of us play, all of us win,” in homage to female athletes.
Last weekend Matt Fitzpatrick took home his first major championship win. Fitzpatrick has deals with Castore, Protiviti, Skechers, Troon and Workday. All five brands can be seen on the course either on his hat, shirt or golf bag. Fitzpatrick promotes his social media where he is ranked #71 amongst golfers in terms of total followers (219K total following across Instagram, Twitter, Facebook) with a 15% YOY growth in followers.
Take a closer look into which brands boasted a prominent presence during the coveted U.S. Open:
Viewership for the final round on NBC was 5.41M and a key way brands activated during the event was through broadcast advertisements. 63 total brands had a placement during the final round of the event with 16 having more than one asset. Brands that had more than one asset include AT&T, Corona and Verizon.
Lexus, American Express and Rolex saw the greatest number of unique assets during the event with Sentry Insurance and Deloitte rounding out the top five. Here are just some of the ways these brands activated:
Lexus – Golf Simulator (Sponsored Attendee Activity), Trophy Experience, Split Screen Commercial, Ad / Logo Pop Up
American Express – American Express Cardmember Lounge, Member When Moments (Featured Segment), Split Screen Commercial
Rolex – Interior Signage, Upcoming USGA Championships and Scoreboard (Featured Segments), Ad / Logo Pop Up
Sentry Insurance – USGA GHIN Mobile App (Presenting Sponsor), Split Screen Commercial
Deloitte – Bunker Cam (Presenting Sponsor), Ad / Logo Pop Up, Live Read Commercial
* These five brands are all partners of the U.S. Golf Association (USGA)
Austin Leibach, who oversees golf operations at SponsorUnited, gives his thoughts on what the LIV Golf Tour could mean for the PGA TOUR, “All eyes are always on the golf majors, the four largest tournaments each year, but I expect to see even more focus on them in the coming year. The PGA TOUR is missing some major star power in the likes of Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Dechambeau, Koepka, and others, lured away by the extreme salaries of the LIV Golf Tour. Since these golfers are still allowed to compete in the majors, I anticipate a larger brand focus on these normally exclusive tournaments.”
The Enjoy Illinois 300 Presented by Ticketsmarter took place Sunday and kept NASCAR fans on the edge of their seats. This was the first Cup Series NASCAR Race held at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway and it did not disappoint. It was an exciting event that finished with an overtime shootout won by Joey Logano, achieving his 60th career win in his 15 years of racing. Lagano has Pennzoil as a main sponsor along with a hit list of brands that includes Shell, AAA & Ford.
World Wide Tech became the raceway title sponsor in 2019 and during the event there was a large amount of brands present in-venue, most of which have a direct tie to the midwest. Brands had a huge presence through the speedway (not just on the cars) so which brands were present?
Present via signage & activations were Ameren Illinois, Bommarito Automotive Group, C.A. Jones, Illinois Office of Tourism, Scott Credit Union, SSM Health, and of course World Wide Technology. Outside of the race itself, many of the brand activations draw their own attention from fans attending the raceway from tabling to interactive activities present throughout the venue. Some big brands activating on race day include Enterprise Rent-A-Car, GEICO, Toyota Racing, Oakley, McDonald’s, and State Farm. Brands also have exposure through the drivers themselves, mostly through the branding on the cars themselves.
It’s no surprise that the best way to get brand exposure is to have your driver finish 1st. However, for this past Cup Series race, it pays to be partners with the top 5 finishers: Joey Logano x Pennzoil, Kyle Busch x Snickers, Kurt Busch x Monster Energy, Ryan Blaney x Dent Wizard, and Aric Almirola x Ford.
Last Saturday, Real Madrid raised their 14th Champions League trophy, making them the most successful team in the history of the tournament, with a total of 14 UCL trophies.
We broke down some of the top insights from the biggest soccer game of the year.