Sponsor Insights

MLB Field of Dreams Game

Congratulations to the Chicago Cubs who defeated the Cincinnati Reds in the second edition of MLB’s Field of Dreams Game presented by Geico.

Most frequent brands seen on Fox Broadcast:

Most frequent assets leveraged:

  • Recorded Commercial
  • Virtual Signage Projected in Lower Bowl
  • Live Read Commercial
  • 1st Base / 3rd Baseline Billboards
  • Broadcast Ad / Logo Pop Up

* Venue assets under MLB property. Broadcast assets under MLB on FOX property

MLB All-Star Week Recap

The MLB Home Run Derby, presented by T-Mobile, took place Monday in LA, with Juan Soto of the Washington Nationals–arguably the hottest player in professional baseball– taking home the championship.

Over 30 brands, all MLB partners, had signage across Dodger Stadium. T-Mobile’s nearly 15 assets ranged from event-related content (a sponsored 30 seconds of bonus batting time for each contestant who hit two home runs over 440 feet) to signage across the outfield.

Meanwhile, more than 50 brands leveraged the event’s ESPN broadcast with commercials. Notably, 3 of the top 5 TV advertisers were within the QSR Pizza category: 

  • Lending Tree
  • PizzaHut
  • Domino’s
  • Apple
  • Papa Johns

Home Run Derby champion Juan Soto–the youngest player ever to debut in the MLB, at age 19 in 2018–has 5 endorsement deals, with Under Armour, Lids, Glu Mobile, QuickBooks, and Wilson Sporting Goods. Unlike many other pro athletes, Soto utilizes TikTok, where he showcases his QuickBooks & Under Armour sponsorships.

The Derby was followed by the 2022 MLB All-Star Game on Tuesday, where the American League beat the National League by a score of 3-2.

With 8 total assets, GEICO served as presenting sponsor of the broadcast on FOX. GEICO and MasterCard were the top advertisers, with 6 commercials each during game breaks.

Chevrolet, Google Cloud, MasterCard, and Papa Johns each presented featured segments during the game:

  • Chevrolet sponsored the MVP Award, which went to New York Yankee, Giancarlo Stanton.
  • The “Statcast,” which measures the exit velocity and distances of home runs, was sponsored by Google Cloud.
  • MasterCard sponsored the Stand Up To Cancer portion of the broadcast.
  • The pre-show “Countdown to First Pitch” clock and the starting lineups at gametime were both sponsored by Papa John’s. 

Similar to the Home Run Derby, signage at the stadium from MLB partners included a variety of assets, such as projected, 1st & 3rd baseline signage, and lower bowl signage.

MLB All-Star Endorsements

With the MLB All-Star Game just around the corner, let’s take a look at the endorsement stats of eight standout players–four from each league–to see how their deals (and social media standing) stack up.

 

American League 

  • Mike Trout: A bonafide superstar in the MLB, the center fielder leads the league in total social followers, with 5.4 million (including 160K on TikTok), though doesn’t crack the top 20 players in total endorsements. Notably, rising star Vladimir Gurrero Jr. nearly equals Trout in endorsement deals, despite a social following that trails Trout’s by 4 million.
  • Shohei Ohtani: International star and Trout’s LA Angels teammate, the Japanese phenom–nicknamed “Shotime”–ranks among the top 5 players in the league for endorsements, with 11. He’s also hitting homers on social media, where his followers on Instagram–his only channel–have grown 93% to 1.4 million in the last year. 
  • Aaron Judge: The Yankees superstar bet on himself before the season began, turning down a seven-year contract extension–and so far it’s paid off with his best season yet in the majors. He ranks #11 in social followers in the MLB, and has 5 endorsement deals–including T-Mobile, whose commercials feature him and teammate Giancarlo Stanton. Given his banner year so far, Judge is in a prime position to ink more endorsement deals–as well as a potentially record-setting contract–when he becomes a free agent in the offseason.
  • Rafael Devers: The youngest of our roundup at 25, the Boston Red Sox third baseman has just over 200K followers across social media, a number that’s climbed 38% over the last year. His on-field performance has grown steadily since he entered the league in 2017, netting him 4 endorsement deals so far–a number that’s likely to rise in step with his future All-Star appearances. 

 

National League

  • Paul Goldschmidt: Nicknamed “Goldy,” the St. Louis Cardinals first baseman has 3 apparel deals–with Nike, Franklin Sports, and Rawlings–but notably no social media presence beyond Facebook. On pace for his best year ever, time will tell if he’ll soon make the jump to Instagram and TikTok, given his burgeoning talents on the field.  
  • Trea Turner: Traded from the Washington Nationals to the Los Angeles Dodgers last year, the shortstop has seen 109% growth in his social media presence (primarily Instagram) in the big, buzzy LA market. At 8.1%, Turner’s engagement rate across his more than 400K followers is strong; he tagged two brands he endorses, Adidas and Marucci, both together and separately in social posts from May 2022. 
  • Mookie Betts: Turner’s teammate and another relatively recent addition to the Dodgers, Betts ranks 18th in social media followers in the MLB, with more than 1.5 million. He’s seen his endorsements more than double in the last year, from 4 to 9–a likely nod to the power of moving into a major media market. 
  • Manny Machado: An avid offseason golfer, the San Diego Padres star has a longstanding deal with Callaway. Machado has over 700K followers on Instagram–his only social channel–making him the 10th most followed person in the San Diego market. Besides Callaway, he endorses Budweiser, Petco, and Essentia Water.

MLB Greenlights CBD

Given Major League Baseball’s landmark announcement last week that teams can now sell CBD sponsorships, the already buzzy category will soon be top of mind for many in pro sports. With more than 160 CBD brands buying sponsorship or media, MLB executives can expect an influx of calls from those vying for the coveted distinction of becoming the official CBD partner of an MLB team. 

Time will tell if MLB players will also dive into CBD, following athletes like NFL star Dalvin Cook–who endorses CBD brand Medterra–and PGA golfers Bubba Watson and Patrick Reed, who both have deals with CBD sponsorship leader cbdMD.  

Another sign of the CBD industry’s burgeoning momentum? Two CBD brands–cbdMD and Charlotte’s Web–made the top 50 in SponsorUnited’s June most-searched list. 

Here’s a snapshot of current trends across properties where CBD partnerships are legal.

The current CBD industry leaders in terms of total sponsorship deals:

  1. cbdMD
  2. 3Chi
  3. Beam Organics
  4. Charlotte’s Web
  5. Select
  6. Pure Spectrum
  7. Trulieve
  8. Cannadips
  9. Mendi
  10. Love Hemp

The most popular assets bought by CBD brands are social media posts, property entitlements, digital content, outdoor signage, and event content/activations. Emerging marketing assets include Instagram posts, official sponsor/use of marks, logo displayed on websites, static billboards, and talent endorsements.

Social media is a leading activation for CBD brands–as evidenced by their top-five most engaged posts with the following properties: 

  1. Jon Jones X Just CBD | Engagement: 186,479
  2. Kamaru Usman X Love Hemp | Engagement: 176,802
  3. Kamaru Usman X Love Hemp | Engagement: 159,361
  4. Charles Oliveira X AthletiCBD | Engagement: 128,363
  5. Ultimate Fighting Club (UFC) X Love Hemp | Engagement: 123,344

MLB Teams Are Hitting Social Media Hard

The MLB season is in full swing and teams have been taking their game seriously on social media. The Atlanta Braves are delivering both on and off the field with their 14  game winning streak and ranking #1 for social engagement for sponsors across all 30 MLB teams. The Braves are the 6th most followed team in the MLB with 6M total followers (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok). They boast a YOY increase of 13% and have an impressive 1.44 engagements on their sponsored posts. Brands like Truist (homefield naming partner), Papa Johns, Subway and RaceTrac can be seen leveraging and taking advantage of the Braves’ social game. 

The other 9 of the top 10 MLB teams in terms of social engagement x sponsored posts include: 

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers (1.24M): The Dodgers have seen 1.24M engagements across all sponsored posts helping them claim the number two spot on the list. They are the 3rd ranked MLB team in terms of social following with 9.4M total followers. They rank #1 for followers on Instagram with 3M.

Top brands with Dodgers social deal include: UCLA Health, Yaamava Resort & Casino at San Manuel, Advance AutoParts.

 

  1. New York Mets (1.21M): The New York Mets not only have seen success in total engagement on sponsored posts, they also have the most active fans boasting the highest ratio of engagement on branded posts. 0.9% of Mets followers interact with branded posts, that’s almost 40% higher than the Dodgers.  

Top brands with Mets social deal include: Coney Island Brewing Company, Citibank, loanDepot

 

  1. Chicago White Sox (734K): The Chicago White Sox are #4 on the list with a total engagement of 734K. The White Sox are the 16th most followed team in the MLB and 5th most followed property in the Chicago market. They saw a YOY increase of 5%.

Top brands with White Sox social deal include: FanDuel, Horseshoe Hammond, Guaranteed Rate

 

  1. Houston Astros (703K): The Astros come in at #5 with 703K total engagements on branded social posts. They are the 13th most followed team in the MLB with 4.4M followers across Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok.

Top brands with Astros social deal include: Reliant Energy, AT&T SportsNet and Budweiser

 

  1. Chicago Cubs (690K): The #6 team on the list, the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs are the 2nd most followed property in Chicago and 4th most followed in the MLB with 8.3M total followers. They have a prominent presence on TikTok with 726K followers, the most of any MLB team. 

Top brands with Cubs social deal include: Las Vegas Tourism, Sloan, Marriott Bonvoy

 

  1. Milwaukee Brewers (438K): The Milwaukee Brewers are the 24th most followed team in the MLB with 2.4M total followers and come in 7th for total engagement for sponsored posts with 438K. They have seen a 5% YOY increase and are the 2nd most followed property in the Milwaukee market, just behind the Bucks. 

Top brands with Brewers social deal include: UW Credit Union, Fleet Farm, Ball Sports Wisconsin

 

  1. Philadelphia Phillies (274K): With 274K total engagement, the Philadelphia Phillies take the #8 spot. They are the 12th most followed team in the MLB with 4.5M total followers and the 4th most followed property in the Philadelphia media market.

Top brands with Phillies social deal include: SportsRadio 94 WIP, Independence Blue Cross, Herr’s

 

  1. San Diego Padres (272K): The San Diego Padres are ranked #9 with 272K total engagement on sponsored posts. They have 2.7M total followers across the major social media platforms and have a YOY increase of 16%. 

Top brands with Padres social deal include: Petco, ClickUp, USAA

 

  1. Boston Red Sox (178K): Rounding out the top 10 is the Boston Red Sox with 178K total engagements. They are the 2nd most followed team in the MLB, only behind the New York Yankees, with 9.7M total followers. 

Top brands with Red Sox social deal include: JetBlue, Nissan, STIHL

Brands Leverage Rising MLB Stars

Every MLB season a star is born where fans and brands are eagerly tracking every move of the rising star. Back in 2019, the name Vladimir Guerrero Jr. might only have been known to Blue Jays fans. That quickly changed for the rising star turned superstar who landed a spot in the Home Run Derby his rookie year. He went from 0 endorsement deals in ’19 to 14 deals just two seasons later. Vlad is now the #1 most endorsed MLB athlete in the league.

Which rising stars will impress brands the most this year in hopes to secure top deals?

In his 5th season with the LA Angels, Taylor Ward is in the top 5 for MLB Batting Average and is expected to 4X his total at bats. This is a trend fans and brands love to see. Based on the current landscape of MLB player endorsements, which brands can we expect to target Ward?

Ranked by total number of MLB endorsements, here are the top 5 categories along with the top brands.

  1. Leisure & Recreation
    1. Rawlings
    2. Wilson
    3. Topps
  2. Apparel & Accessories
    1. Nike
    2. New Balance
    3. Franklin Sports
  3. Retail
    1. Forever Collectibles
    2. Dick’s Sporting Goods
    3. TicketSmarter
  4. Technology
    1. Adobe Creative Cloud
    2. MLB The Show
    3. Candy Digital
  5. Beverage – Non-Alcoholic
    1. Pepsi
    2. BodyArmor
    3. Essentia Water

Here are players on the rise that brands should be watching this year:

  • Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays
  • Alek Manoah, Toronto Blue Jays
  • Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins
  • Triston McKenzie, Cleveland Guardians
  • Luis Robert, Chicago White Sox
  • Eloy Jimenez, Chicago White Sox
  • Wander Franco, Tampa Bay Rays
  • Michael Kopech, Chicago White Sox
  • Jhoan Duran, Minnesota Twins
  • Nestor Cortes, New York Yankees
  • Shane McClanahan, Tampa Bay Rays
  • Jeremy Pena, Houston Astros
  • Brandon Nimmo, New York Mets

MLB Brand Collaborations

Nearly two months into the MLB season and brands are already leaving their mark on fans with their unique MLB collaborations. From high end apparel to snacks and alcohol, brands are making an impact across stadiums utilizing players, teams and the league to promote their brands.

What’s so special about these partnerships?

Hi-Chew has teamed up with three MLB teams, the Chicago Cubs, Tampa Bay Rays & St. Louis Cardinals to bring their candy to the stadiums. Hi-Chew will be available in-stadium for fans and even the Cardinals players in the dugout, to enjoy. The brand will also sponsor the Dance Cam for the Cardinals, the Kids Club for the Rays and have video board signage with the Cubs. Not a bad gig for an international brand brought stateside. 

Gucci has created another MLB Capsule collection which will be sold through Gucci’s Vault, an online concept store. Fans can purchase limited-edition Gucci x MLB apparel inclusive of varsity jackets, zip-up hoodies, co-branded caps, and more.

As the Official Treat and Burger of the MLB Dairy Queen partnered with four MLB stars, Tim Anderson, Cody Bellinger, Bryce Harper & Fernando Tatis Jr. in a new advertising campaign. Tim Andersona & Bryce Harper will be going head to head promoting their favorite stackburger and blizzard treat and fans can even vote on the winning meal.

Budweiser and the MLB extended on their partnership right after the lockout ended this year. Budweiser partnered with 14 teams showcasing the team’s branding on the front of their cans for sale in each team’s city.

MLB New Deals

Just over a month into the MLB season and the league has seen six new partnerships enter the scene. Adobe, Capital One, Corona, Mattress Firm, Cue Health, and Dairy Queen all have a variety of assets and activations on display in stadium and throughout MLB broadcast. 

Each brand has become an Official Sponsor of the league with their own designations. What assets have these brands utilized during the season so far?

Adobe signed a deal with the MLB becoming the Official Creativity Partner of the league. Throughout the season, Adobe can be spotted during nationally televised games with signage projected in the lower bowl and in MLB emails as a sponsored partner. Right after MLB Opening Weekend, on April 11th Adobe sponsored a video on Twitter with the MLB asking fans the question “What was your favorite part of Opening Weekend?”.

Capital One, the Official Bank and Credit Card Partner of the MLB, had over five assets activated in just the first month. In some games, their logo has been  projected on the back of the pitcher’s mound as well as in the lower bowl during Sunday Night games on ESPN. Capital One also sponsors on  YouTub, the 2022 Game Recaps along with a video series on MLB.com known as Capital One Walk Offs showcasing the walk off wins from each game that has one.

Corona has become the Official Cerveza of the MLB. Already, Corona has leveraged the branded projected lower bowl signage, pre-roll commercials and branded social posts. As the season moves on, one can expect more custom content on MLB.com and MLB Network.

Cue Health signed a deal with the MLB becoming the league’s trusted at-home testing solution for COVID-19. The first ever Apple TV Friday Night Baseball game was co-sponsored by Cue Health and ZipRecruiter. In addition, all @MLB game highlights on their social channels that night tagged Cue Health.

Designated the Official Treat and Burger of the MLB Dairy Queen has had projected signage in the lower bowl as well as multiple social tags by @MLB. Every Grand Slam through the season will also be sponsored by Dairy Queen on social media.

Mattress Firm was named the Official Sleep Wellness Partner of the MLB. The brand will be launching sweepstakes that gives winners the chance to win VIP experiences throughout the year.

MLB Endorsements

International superstar Shohei Ohtani has garnered an impressive 188% increase in social followers YoY. That has translated into signing more than 10 endorsements with brands globally. How does that compare to teammate Mike Trout? Trout’s social following has only grown 2% over the past year but it has not slowed down the amount of deals he has which are in the double digits.

How does this compare to other star players around the league?

Signing mega deals for a player’s “performance” has not always meant endorsement deals off the field. Two examples of this are Max Scherzer & Gerrit Cole who are the two highest paid pitchers in baseball. Each player totals only two deals, both have a deal with Rawlings, while Scherzer has a deal with Indeed and Cole with Nike. Notably, both of these players are not as active on social media as some other star players having under 1 million followers each.

Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper comes to mind when thinking about players like Trout having more than five endorsements off the field while signing big contracts for his game play. Harper has over 2 million followers on social media that his brand partners like Dairy Queen, Gatorade & Fanatics leverage. Harper’s followers average a 4% engagement rate on his social posts totalling over 380k engagements, the most of the five athletes mentioned. Ohtani leads the group with 11 total deals and highest

 

Baseball is Back, and 1 Brand is Showing Off Their Newest Partnership

For the first time, Apple TV+ covered MLB Friday night baseball and their brand integrations throughout the broadcasts were seamless. The doubleheader broadcast was presented by Cue Health and ZipRecruiter and Apple products were uniquely featured throughout the broadcast.

Apple TV+’s first iteration of their MLB broadcast featured the New York Mets vs. the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros vs. the Los Angeles Angels, covered by Stephen Nelson (play-by-play), Hunter Pence (analyst), Katie Nolan (analyst), and Heidi Watney (reporter). 

Sub-brands and concepts from Apple were integrated during the competition aiming to enhance the viewers experience. Each player’s “Walk Up Song” was presented by Apple Music with the Apple Music Logo and song details featured on screen next to the batter. How long until Apple integrates a QR code for viewers to automatically download or purchase music directly from the TV during Friday night games?

Apple’s Siri was utilized to activate both entertainment and event related content, providing fans with fun trivia questions and calculated probability stats during the games. Reporter Heidi Watney conducted interviews while wearing a pair of Apple Airpods Max. For added exposure for the brand, Watney was interrupted during her live interview with Jeremy Peña’s parents by Peña’s first ever career home run. 

Amazon is also making headway in the professional sports broadcast game in 2022, after Prime Video was announced as the exclusive home of NFL Thursday Night Football. Prime Video’s first NFL broadcast was in 2017, with non-exclusive streaming rights to ten regular season games. The new Thursday coverage will feature legendary sports broadcaster Al Michaels, who covered his record 11th SuperBowl this past year. The National Football League currently  partners with Amazon by leveraging Amazon Web Services (AWS) to provide new stats that create better experiences for fans, players and teams.

Apple TV+’s studio’s Pre-Game Show was presented by BetMGM and Post-Game Show by SoFI. The Friday night coverage will continue through the season, including tonight for Jackie Robinson Day. Broadcasts for Apple TV+ coverage are available in the United States, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, South Korea and the United Kingdom.

MLB x AppleTV