Sponsor Insights

NFL Christmas Games

The National Football League will have its first-ever Christmas Day tripleheader this year.

Take a look at how the competing team’s social game and sponsorship portfolio compare.

Golden Glove Endorsements

Rising stars took over the MLB Gold Glove Winners list with 14 players earning the award for the first time across the AL and NL leagues. With many new faces winning for the 1st time, brands will have the opportunity to capitalize on these rising stars.

Athletic apparel and equipment brands most frequently partnered with this year’s Gold Glove Award Winners, led by Rawling Sporting Goods (6), Franklin Sports (5), New Balance (4), and Nike (4).

To learn more about endorsement deals in the MLB and much more, visit HERE.

NBA Teams Score Big On Social In The Offseason

The 2022/23 NBA season–the league’s 77th–tipped off on Tuesday with a marquee doubleheader. As fans gear up for a slew of exciting match-ups over the next six months, here’s a glimpse at how the league’s teams and players fared on social media during the offseason. 

NBA teams stayed active with 3,187 sponsored posts across 366 deals since mid-June, engaging over 18.7M followers–an average of 51K per deal and 5.6K per post.

Top 5 offseason posts (by total engagement):

  1. Bibigo x LA Lakers – 526K
  2. UCLA Mattel Children’s x LA Lakers – 514K
  3. Rakuten x Golden State Warriors – 333K
  4. Oracle x Golden State Warriors – 227K
  5. Coinbase x Chicago Bulls – 197K

The Lakers and the Warriors dominated social media during their time off, generating a combined 42% of the NBA’s total engagement. The Lakers accounted for 20%,  engaging 3.7M fans across 103 posts–40 of which were with Korean food company Bibigo, the team’s jersey patch sponsor. Five of the NBA’s 10 most engaging posts were Lakers’ branded posts, 3 of which were with Bibigo. 

Engaging 4.1M followers across 291 posts–192 with Oracle–the Warriors were responsible for 22% of the NBA’s social engagement since last season ended. The team averaged engagement of 415K per brand, eclipsing the Lakers’ 234K per partner. The Warriors’ offseason social activity with Oracle amassed over 1M more engagements than any other NBA partnership, due in large part to its plethora of posts. 

NBA players were also busy on social media during the offseason, as Lebron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo proved why they’re among the four highest paid players in the league.

Top 5 NBA player offseason posts (by total engagement):

  1. Lobos 1707 Tequila x Lebron James – 1.8M
  2. Sports Illustrated x Lebron James – 1.121M
  3. Brown & Brown Custom Clothiers x Giannis Antetokounmpo – 1.118M
  4. Zion Williamson x Jordan Brand – 585K
  5. RIMOWA x Lebron James – 579K

Athletes with supersize social media clout naturally command much bigger deals. Here are the NBA giants with the highest-earning endorsement portfolios, and some of their deep-pocketed brand partners.

Estimated NBA athlete endorsement portfolio earnings (Source: Sportico)

  1. Lebron James – est. $75M
    • Cypto.com, GMC, Ruffles
  2. Kevin Durant – est. $48M
    • NBA Top Shop, Weemaps, Nike
  3. Steph Curry – est. $45M
    • Rakuten, FTX, Literati
  4. Giannis Antetokounmpo – est. $44M
    • WhatsApp, Nike, Breitling
  5. Russell Westbrook – est. $25M
    • Jordan Brand, Converse, Varo

Ballon D’or SPRED Report 2022

DOWNLOAD REPORT HERE

Congratulations to Karim Benzema and Alexia Putellas, the winners of this year’s Ballon d’Or (“Golden Ball”) Award, presented in Paris on October 17th. Nominees for the annual award recognizing the best player over the previous year–presented by French news magazine French Football since 1956–included 30 men’s and 20 women’s football players from around the world.

Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema–nicknamed “Karim the Dream”–was the favorite after winning the UEFA Nations League with France, the LaLiga title, the Spain Supercup, and the Champions League with Real Madrid, as well as the 2021/2022 UEFA Men’s Player of the Year. With 120M total followers, Benzema was the second most-followed Ballon d’Or nominee this year on social media. His partnerships with 6 brands–including adidas, Jean Paul Gaultier, Technogym, and Crypto.com–have generated 16M engagements and counting.

Alexia Putellas won the women’s Ballon d’Or Award for the second consecutive year, becoming the first female player to win the title twice. Her elite run has boosted her social following a whopping 330% year-over-year to 3M across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. The FC Barcelona midfielder takes the 5th spot among both male and female Ballon d’Or nominees in terms of brand partnerships, garnering more than 2.4M engagements across 18 branded posts.

With a staggering following of more than 740M, nominee Cristiano Ronaldo is the most popular person in the world on social media. He also leads the nominees in brand partnerships with 17, including LiveScore, Nike, Clear (Unilever), and CR7, his own underwear brand. With 18 nominations during his career–the most of any player–the Portuguese megastar has won 5 Ballon d’Or trophies, a feat surpassed only by Lionel Messi with 7 awards.

Alex Morgan tops the list of female players on social media with an audience of more than 20M–ranking her 15th among all Ballon d’Or nominees by total followers. With 27 deals, the San Diego Wave striker also partners with more brands than any other female athlete. Morgan’s most engaging branded post–on Instagram with Beat Everybody, the clothing brand she cofounded with fellow US Women’s National Soccer Team players Allie Long and Kelley O’Hara–has racked up 293K engagements since January.

LA Chargers & KC Chiefs Face Off

The AFC West matchup tonight between two potential Super Bowl contenders–the Los Angeles Chargers at the Kansas City Chiefs–features a slew of players who have taken advantage of the teams’ success by locking in endorsement deals.

KC Chiefs wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has the most deals of any player in this game with 24. An avid online gamer, he partners with HyperX and Nerd Street Games, and has secured other deals thanks to his skyrocketing fame on TikTok, where his followers total more than 3M. JuJu’s branded posts on the platform include SoFi, HyperIce, Yahoo Sports, Snickers, and 7-Eleven.

LA Chargers star running back Austin Ekeler literally leads the charge for his team with more than 20 partnerships, among them SteelSeries, American Airlines, Shock Doctor, and Sleep Number. He’s leveraging his burgeoning social following–which has grown more than 70% since 2021–by posting about each partner brand, with posts and engagement totaling 81 and over 560K, respectively.  

Notably, 5 of Ekeler’s sponsors also have deals with players on the Chiefs: 

  • Sleep Number: Clyde Edwards-Helaire
  • Chipotle: George Karlaftis
  • Verizon & Bud Light: Juju Smith-Schuster
  • StateFarm: Patrick Mahomes

Meanwhile, chances are top-tier quarterback talents Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert will be facing off for many years to come, both on the field and in the sponsorship arena. 

Mahomes’ 8M+-strong social following dwarfs third-year starting QB Herbert’s 500K–though Herbert’s star continues to rise, as evidenced by his following’s 55% increase this past year. And while Mahomes has more deals, his average engagement rate of 1.1% is a mere fraction of Herbert’s, which stuns at a whopping 9.86%.

Both Mahomes and Herbert have deals with Bose, which saw its highest total engagement on social media with the star quarterbacks this year. Mahomes’ top post with the audio giant, on January 27th, totaled over 330K likes/comments on Instagram, while Herbert’s January 8th Instagram post engaged more than 100K followers. Bose made noise on social media during the 2021-22 NFL playoffs, posting more than 10 times with participating players.

Music Artist Report Reveals Social Media’s Reach

SponsorUnited’s inaugural Music Artist Report, released yesterday, delivers an in-depth analysis of over 2,100 brands and 1,100 deals from July 2021-July 2022, unlocking 10 major music genres and telling the stories of nearly 600 artists. 

Here’s a peek at some of the report’s key insights: 

Country music’s most popular performers have attracted the most eyeballs across the SponsorUnited platform.

In addition, Country stars average more deals per artist than any other genre, with the number of brands partnering with them rising 45% since 2020. 

Their seemingly unstoppable momentum continues: Over 35% of SponsorUnited searches among music artists were Country, with Luke Bryan, Carrie Underwood, Luke Combs, and George Strait ranking among the top five most searched artists.

Music artists are betting big on their own brands—and winning

Of the top 50 most engaging brands, those owned by artists garnered the most attention.Four of the top five brands with the highest social engagement were beauty brands owned by superstars: 

  • Rare Beauty (Selena Gomez)
  • JLO Beauty (Jennifer Lopez) 
  • r.e.m. beauty (Ariana Grande) 
  • Savage x Fenty (Rihanna)

Music moves fans like no other league, team or property can.

Not surprisingly, artists’ success on social media plays a key role in driving performance of their brands. When comparing per-post engagement among a variety of property types, musicians top the leaderboard with an average engagement per post of 137K, versus 100K for general celebrities in the second-place spot. 

Artist-owned companies are expanding into new categories. 

While music artists have long added value to Cosmetics, Clothing and Alcohol brands, artists like Timbaland, Kanye West and Dua Lipa are already charting the future of artist ownership in new categories:

  • Timbaland x Beatclub: The innovative digital platform aims to revolutionize the way music makers connect.
  • Kanye West x Donda Sports: Kanye’s sports marketing agency now includes clients like NBA star Jaylen Brown and NFL standout Aaron Donald.
  • Dua Lipa x Service95: Dua Lipa released her first weekly lifestyle newsletter in February 2022.

Latin artists see massive growth from global music fans.

Among the top 40 fastest growing social accounts, 12 were owned by Latin artists. Combined, these artists gained over 250M followers–2.5x more than Rap/Hip-Hop and 3.5x more than Country, and second only to Pop. With Latin music’s total revenue projected at over $1B this year, expect to see US brands continue to team up with these red-hot performers. 

Case in point: Bad Bunny, Spotify’s most streamed artist globally in 2020 and 2021. During his El Último Tour Del Mundo this year, he partnered with Airbnb to open the doors to his truck for three one-night stays for two guests at just $91 per night—a nod to his record-breaking 9.1B Spotify streams in 2021. Guests had the exclusive opportunity to explore Bad Bunny’s past, present and future, both on and off the stage.

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

NFL Off-Season Social Data

The National Football League (NFL) is back with the first pre-season game of the 2022-23 season taking place tonight.

Which social media partnerships this offseason were the most successful ranked by average engagement per post? Swipe below to find out!

NFL Offseason Social Media Stats

The 2022 NFL offseason has provided prime opportunities for brands keen to raise their social media profile since the NFL Free agency began in March. With the preseason kicking off tonight, let’s break down the engagement numbers. 

Since March 1, more than 650 deals have been promoted on social channels across the league and its teams, totaling north of 6,400 posts thus far. With an average of 10 posts per brand, total engagement (likes, shares, or comments) across all deals tops 17.5 million, or just over 25,000 engagements per deal. 

Not surprisingly, the two leading social media partnerships were with last season’s Super Bowl rivals, the LA Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals. The fact that Rams posts took four of the top 10 slots by average engagement underscores the offseason benefits reaped by brands partnering with Super Bowl champions. 

The Rams also top the list of brand deals with a 3-post minimum. The team’s partnership with Nike has tallied more than 45,000 average engagements across 7 posts, for a total of more than 315,000 followers.

Lesser-known companies like Swift Meats also were able to garner exceptional exposure in their deals with the Bengals. With 8 posts overall–which showcased the new “White Bengal” helmet, debuting this year–Swift Meat’s total engagement stands at 250,000, an average of just over 31,000 per post. 

Rounding out the top 5 most successful social media partnerships from the Draft through July 31st were the Atlanta Falcons and Coca-Cola, the New York Giants and Invisalign, and the Denver Broncos and Chevron, respectively. With a minimum of 3 posts, each saw per-post engagement of more than 20,000 followers.

29 Recording Artists Join the 100M+ Follower Club

Social media’s power as a brand-building tool is indisputable–especially in the music industry. According to SponsorUnited’s latest data, 29 recording artists have at least 100 million followers across TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook–accounting for a whopping 6.2 billion cumulative follows. 

Selena Gomez tops the list with nearly 525 million followers. Despite her staggering fan base, her 6 endorsement deals pale in comparison to Snoop Dogg (160+ million followers), whose singular charisma has helped him ink 17 partnerships. He starred in Super Bowl commercials for BIC and Pepsi last February, while his February 23rd Instagram post with another partner, Crooks & Castles Clothing, engaged 1.2 million followers–topping his long list of branded social posts. 

Katy Perry cracks the top-five in both social followers and endorsement deals. Sixteen brands have leveraged Perry’s social media following over the last 12 months, totaling more than 100 posts, while her total engagement is an impressive 17.8 million, with an average 1.1 million followers per brand. Her January 2nd Instagram post with Resorts World Las Vegas netted 890K engagements, her highest-ever tally on the channel. 

Latin music artist J Balvin takes the third spot on the endorsement list behind Perry, with 15 deals and a social following of 110 million. His customized-shoe partnership with Jordan Brand spurred a huge pop on his social media page with an engagement of over 1.5 million–more than 10% of his total engagement across 46 posts. Fortnite is Balvin’s most-promoted brand on social media by number of posts: his 10 with the online game have a total engagement of 3.5 million.