Sponsor Insights

Fall Is The NFL’s Prime Time To Shine On Social Media

Since the NFL calendar year kicked off last April, the league and its teams have amassed over 14K branded posts on social media, engaging more than 39M followers. Some 1,225 deals have been activated across social channels during the same period.

How does this compare to NFL athletes over the last 12 months? Players have activated 1,707 partnerships via social media across 3,099 posts for a total engagement of nearly 42M. On average, the league and teams have been more active on social media so far this season than the players themselves.

Thanks to their team partnerships, 828 brands have been showcased on social media since the season’s start. Technology tops the category list by number of posts, closely followed by Alcohol, Financial, and Healthcare.

The top 5 brands by post frequency so far:

  • Bud Light
  • Gatorade
  • Socios.com
  • EA Sports
  • Microsoft Surface

Meanwhile, 848 brands have had a post with NFL athletes over the last year. For player posts, Apparel & Accessories leads the way by industry, followed by Retail and Non-Alcoholic beverages. Bud Light is the only crossover among the top 5 brands:

  • DraftKings
  • Bose
  • Bud Light
  • Lowe’s
  • Sleep Number

The NFL season is prime time for players to showcase their brand partnerships across social media. 

The top 5 posts by players and their brand partners (by engagement through September):

  1. Tyreek Hill x Soul Runner (102K)
  2. Josh Allen x New Era Cap (97K)
  3. Justin Jefferson x Oakley (82K)
  4. Chase Claypool x Jordan Brand (50K)
  5. Justin Jefferson x Optimum Nutrition (47K)

Teams are also leveraging their endorsement deals on social as the season heads into its 5th week. 

The top 5 posts by teams and their brand partners (by engagement in September):

NFL x Verizon (484K)

  1. Miami Dolphins x Gatorade (203K)
  2. Dallas Cowboys x Winstar World Casino & Resort (131K)
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers x Gatorade (116K)
  4. Dallas Cowboys x Bank of America (111K)

August Brand Power Rankings

As we bid a fond farewell to summer and head into September, here are the top most searched brands by sponsorship executives on the SponsorUnited platform during the month of August. Click on the link below to reveal the top 30. 

PRIME Hydration, a performance beverage brand owned by high-profile YouTuber and influencer Logan Paul and YouTuber and British rapper KSI, has emerged from virtually out of nowhere to take the top spot on the August list. Founded in January 2022, the brand’s Instagram account has garnered a massive 1.1M following–likely due to the owners’ popularity–and another 400K across other social media platforms.

So far, PRIME has secured more than 5 sponsorship / media deals–some with Logan Paul or KSI brands, and 2 marquee partnerships with Arsenal and MBM Motorsports. PRIME became Arsenal’s official hydration partner this year, while securing assets including product placement on the press conference podium, stadium signage, and social posts. Meanwhile, its sponsorship of MBM Motorsports saw PRIME’s logo branded on the front hood of the vehicle driven by pro stock car driver Timmy Hill.

At the end of July, third-ranked VRBO signed a deal with the Fiesta Bowl to become the exclusive title sponsor of the popular college football bowl game. In addition, the vacation rental online marketplace became the Fiesta Bowl’s official travel sponsor, with branding at fan activations, digital and social media content, in-stadium exposure, and inclusion at other year-round events run by the Fiesta Bowl.

Meanwhile, eighth-ranked Paycor, an HR software company, signed a 16-year venue naming rights deal with the Cincinnati Bengals in August, changing the name of the team’s home venue in Cincinnati to Paycor Stadium. Paycor will be integrated throughout the venue, and has already seen exposure during the Bengals’ preseason broadcasts, with a live read commercial and a logo pop-up next to the scoreboard in the Bengals’ August 12th game against the Arizona Cardinals.

Hard Seltzer Sponsor Insight

As we head into the fleeting days of summer, hard seltzer–one of the season’s favorite tipples–remains a happy hour staple. Let’s take a closer look at the sponsorship strategies of the industry’s major players. 

Truly dominates the crowded category both as the most searched hard seltzer brand by executives on the SponsorUnited platform over the last 12 months, as well as the leader in sponsorships. At more than 160, Truly’s current number of deals jumped nearly 50% from last year, and increased 105% versus 2020. 

This year, the brand set its sights on concert venues and amphitheaters, which comprise 26% of its total deals. Within pro sports, the NHL is its top target: Truly has partnerships with 11 teams, and a deal with the league itself. 

Here’s how the rest of the category stacks up behind Truly: 

  • Bud Light Seltzer
  • White Claw Hard Seltzer
  • Twisted Tea
  • VIZZY Hard Seltzer
  • Corona Hard Seltzer
  • Mike’s Hard Lemonade
  • High Noon Spirits
  • Michelob Ultra Organic Seltzer
  • Mamitas

Starting last spring, hard seltzer brands began gearing up for a festive summer with a sponsorship buying binge. A few notable deals:

  • July: Simply Spiked Lemonade became a first-time official partner of ABC’s ESPY Awards, sponsoring the Best Male Athlete prize as well as the event’s official after-party.
  • April: Twisted Tea partnered with its hometown team, the Boston Red Sox, to create a new, limited-edition flavor, “Sweet Cherry Lime.” The collaboration paid homage to Red Sox fans’ favorite 8th inning song, “Sweet Caroline.”
  • March: Molson Coors reached a multiyear agreement with the Chicago White Sox, resuming its 30+-year partnership after a brief hiatus. The brewer’s Miller Lite and Leininkugel’s became the team’s official domestic and craft beer partners, and VIZZY its official hard seltzer partner. 

Most hard seltzer sponsorships contain digital content, social posts, and interior venue signage. Venue entitlements–such as clubs, lounges, and restaurants–are also common among these brands within event venues. The Molson Coors deal, for example, includes naming rights of multiple spaces inside Chicago’s Guaranteed Rate Field, including Vizzy View Bar and Miller Lite Landing. 

Major League Rugby | Spotlight

Major League Rugby (MLR) wrapped up its fifth official season this summer, with Rugby New York taking home its first championship title. As the sport’s popularity steadily increases nationwide, let’s take a look at its burgeoning stable of sponsorships.

Over 380 brands are currently buying sponsorship or media within the MLR and its 13 teams.

Rugby New York currently has less than 10 sponsorship deals–but its league-topping performance this season means brands may soon be clamoring to sign new partnerships with the team as its profile–and the league’s own–continue to rise. Mainfreight, a global supply chain solutions provider, enjoyed prime exposure this season as Rugby New York’s primary jersey sponsor. One of Mainfreight’s tweets with the team was Rugby New York’s highest engaged tweet of the season, and the league’s third highest overall.  

Unlike in other pro sports, Business Services tops the category list in terms of total MLR sponsorship deals: 25 brands have one deal each with a league team. TV-visible signage–including field-level sideline signage–is the most common asset purchased by these brands. 

Across all categories, the top 10 brands ranked by number of sponsorship deals are:

  • Paladin Sports
  • Rhino Rugby
  • Wintergreen
  • American Airlines
  • Guaranteed Rate
  • USI Insurance
  • The Rugby Network
  • GEICO
  • Opro
  • PT SportSuite

All of the above have a deal with at least two MLR teams, and one with the league itself. 

Meanwhile, 27% of the league’s primary jersey sponsorship deals are with Healthcare brands. The number of teams selling primary jersey sponsorships this season increased 37% over last year.

Goal post pads are another notable asset in companies’ crosshairs, with the number of brands buying this asset up 200% versus 2021.  Equipment & apparel retailers Retailers Rhino Rugby and Rugby Now enjoyed exposure on all goal post pads during this season’s matches.

Emerging brands to watch within the league include Wintergreen and Rugby Now, with 4 and 3 new deals this year, respectively. Wintergreen became an official partner of MLR in May 2021, while Rugby Now inked a three-year partnership with the league last February. 

CLICK HERE TO VIEW

Organizations & Groups

National Nonprofit Day was August 17th–offering an opportunity to dig into the category and discover which brands are using sponsorships to make an impact.

With more than 20 deals, Army ROTC leads the pack in number of sponsorships within the massive category, which numbers over 4,500 brands. All of Army ROTC’s deals are with colleges: it currently partners with four schools in Buffalo, its top market.  

Meanwhile, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), American Red Cross, Be The Match, and Goodwill lead the list (in that order) of the most searched brands by sponsorship executives on the SponsorUnited platform in 2022. Three of these five brands also make the top 10 in terms of sponsorship deals: AARP in third place, Goodwill in sixth, and the American Red Cross in ninth. 

The category relies heavily on social and digital media as its leading platforms for sponsorship and media buys, often on the websites and social media pages of schools. Nonprofits have over 4,590 social media deals totaling more than 28,000 posts, across which engagement stands at a staggering 57 million-plus. Six social posts have garnered over 1 million engagements; UNICEF’s branded post with Millie Bobby Brown tops that list at over 3.7 million,1.5 million higher than the second-place post–also UNICEF, with David Beckham.

July proved to be a popular month for nonprofits to ink sponsorship deals:

  • The Cyrille Regis Legacy Trust–which continues the community work that the late striker championedwas named the official charity partner of West Bromwich Albion Football Club, Regis’s former team. The club will also make a donation to the trust for every away shirt sold.
  • The Big Help Project–an award-winning, U.K.-based charity that helps people overcome poverty–announced a deal to have its logo on the jersey of the Wigan Athletic Football Club for the 2022/2023 season. The brands will also join forces to promote the charity’s work across England.

The Special Olympics formed a three-year global partnership with Allison+Partners. The marketing and communications agency will support the world’s largest sports organization for people with intellectual and physical disabilities with an employee volunteer engagement program, as well as PR services to advance inclusion efforts.

Organization & Groups Category

We Made The List!

SponsorUnited Debuts at No. 145 on the 2022 Inc. 5000 List

First-Time Honor Ranks Innovative Intelligence Platform in the Top 3% of the Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America

SponsorUnited, the leading global sports and entertainment intelligence platform, debuted today at No. 145 on the annual Inc. 5000 list–the most prestigious ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in America. The list represents a snapshot of the most successful companies within the economy’s independent businesses–arguably its most dynamic segment. Microsoft, Patagonia, Chobani, Under Armour, Facebook, and many other household names first rose to prominence on the national stage as members of the Inc. 5000.

In addition to ranking No. 145 overall, SponsorUnited is the third fastest growing company in Connecticut, and the twelfth fastest growing Advertising & Marketing company on the list.

“Making the 2022 Inc. 5000 and ranking in the top 3% of companies on the list is a true testament to the sheer effort, attitude and ingenuity of the thousands of people who’ve contributed to SponsorUnited’s success,” said Bob Lynch, SponsorUnited’s Founder & CEO.

While working for the Miami Dolphins and then the Brooklyn Nets from 2010-2015, Lynch sensed an opportunity for brands and properties to partner more effectively in the complex world of sponsorships. Companies across industries would benefit enormously from a resource that demystified the sponsorship marketplace and provided greater accessibility to partnership deals.

Inspired by this mission, Lynch launched the SponsorUnited platform in 2018. The company has since grown substantially to 130 employees and 1,000 partners in 18 countries.

Complete results of the 2022 Inc. 5000 can be found at www.inc.com/inc5000.

Press Release

Richmond Fall Race Endorsements

Kevin Harvick won his second-straight Cup on Sunday during the NASCAR’s Richmond Fall Race.

Harvick partners with 12 brands, including deals with Xfinity,
SubwayRheem ManufacturingCampers Inn RV, and Busch Beer.

NASCAR Endorsements

Back To School Retailers

Back-to-school time is here–a prime opportunity to take a closer look at the sponsorship picture of two top-of-mind retail giants: Walmart and Target.

With more than 90 sponsorship deals, Walmart–the world’s second-largest retailer behind Amazon–dominates the back-to-school retailer space, with over 25 more deals than the second-place brand.

Social media influencers–including Remi Bader, Sofia Bella, and Rach Parcell–account for more than 10% of Walmart’s sponsorship or media deals. So it’s no surprise that social posts are the retailer’s most utilized asset, while TikTok is the preferred channel for more than 5 of its partnerships. Two TikTok posts–with content creator Zeth and Celina SpookyBoo, a Canadian TikTok star and podcaster who has 19 deals–rank among Walmart’s 3 highest performing social posts ever, with over 800,000 engagements. They also take the first and third spots in engagement across the entire department store category, with Macy’s in second with its post with Maluma, a Colombian music artist.

Meanwhile, Target ranks third within department store brands in number of sponsorship deals with just over 40, less than half of Walmart’s count.

Target has been the venue naming rights sponsor for the Minnesota Twins since 2008, when the team’s Minneapolis hometown field became Target Field. The deal includes signage around the stadium, community-related content, and fan activities at the venue, among many other assets. Target also has had naming rights to the Target Center since 1990, home of the Minnesota Lynx and Timberwolves.

One of Target’s larger deals on the national stage is its partnership with Major League Soccer (MLS), which saw the brand sponsor the MLS All-Star Concert featuring Khalid this past Monday in downtown Minneapolis. Instagram is its top social media asset, while 65% of its sponsorship deals include a social post. 

Speaking of, Walmart and Target lead the charge for brands within the Mass Merchant & Department Stores category, where social posts are the top purchased asset amongst the 350+ brands buying sponsorship or media. Many of them favor media deals over sponsorships: on average, each brand has 1 sponsorship among its more than 6 total deals. Once again, Walmart trumps the competition, with over 250 digital media partnerships–double the number of both Target and Macy’s. 

July Brand Power Rankings

With summer in full swing, here’s the July list of the 30 most searched brands by sponsorship executives on the SponsorUnited platform. 

*See full list below

Better-for-you cereal maker Magic Spoon continued its red-hot ascent this month, moving from third place in June to the top spot in July. The brand’s momentum keeps building, as evidenced by the $85 million Series B funding round it raised in June. Some 45% of its deals are with podcasts, including the wildly popular Joe Rogan Experience. 

Meanwhile, IT company DXC Technology made the list for the first time this year, seizing second place after announcing a multi-year global partnership with Manchester United. DXC will use its digital transformation expertise to improve the way ManU engages fans through its digital platforms–including ManUtd.com and the Manchester United app–by harnessing the power of data and analytics technologies. As part of the deal, DXC will have a jersey patch for the 2022/23 season on the club’s home, away, and third kits (uniforms in British parlance). The Virginia-based company will also become the Presenting Partner of the Manchester United Foundation.

Notably, DXC’s biggest market is Washington, D.C., home to 45% of its sponsorships, including the Washington Wizards, Washington Capitals, and Georgetown Hoyas.

In other sports news, Heinz Field has become Acrisure Stadium in a new naming-rights agreement with the home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The deal begins in the new 2022 season, and is estimated at $10 million annually over the next 15 years.

In fifth place, global e-commerce platform Wish was announced as the official sleeve partner of Premier League team Leeds United throughout the 22/23 campaign. The signage extends to the men’s, women’s and academy teams, across all official replica shirts, and throughout the home stadium. The branding also offers a sneak peak of Wish’s new logo ahead of its official rebrand this month.

Dunkin’ has joined the new 3ICE Hockey League as one of its main sponsors as part of an undisclosed six-figure deal, expanding the company’s sprawling portfolio of more than 370 sponsorship and media deals. Notably, hockey ranks fourth on the world’s leading baked goods and coffee chain’s list of property types in terms of total deals.

July 2022 Brand Power Rankings

Frozen Treat Brand Lineup

What better season than summer for frozen treats? The industry is also feeling those warm-weather vibes: of the more than 60 brands overall buying sponsorship or media during the last year in the QSR – Ice Cream & Yogurt category, the top 3 brands ranked by sponsorship or media deals  are Dairy Queen (200+), Kona Ice (50+), and Tropical Smoothie Cafe (35+). 

Minor League Baseball is a huge target market for these three brands. Kona Ice leads with 46% of all its deals within MiLB, followed by Dairy Queen at 35%, and Tropical Smoothie Cafe at 11% within the league. 

Dairy Queen became the Official Treat & Burger of Major League Baseball this season. The perennial fan favorite has had projected signage in the lower bowl, as well as multiple tags by MLB social media profiles across platforms. When someone hits a Grand Slam during the season Dairy Queen will be tagged on social media by the MLB as they are the sponsor of all Grand Slams this year.

Baseball is big business for Dairy Queen: 62% of its deals are within the baseball industry, across the MLB and its athletes, the MiLB, collegiate baseball, and independent baseball leagues.

Meanwhile, Kona Ice has a vendor relationship within 49% of its overall deals. The brand’s penchant for targeting amateur sports is clear: 34% of Kona’s total deals are within the Power 5 Collegiate conferences or MiLB. The NFL, where Kona is a vendor for five teams, ranks second, with 9% of its total deals. While headquartered in Kentucky, the brand’s top market by number of deals is Indianapolis, where Kona’s vendor relationship with five properties includes the Indiana Pacers.

Rounding out the top 3, Tropical Smoothie Cafe takes aim at collegiate sports, with 32% of all deals within the category, and Division 1 bowl games/tournaments their prime prospects. Since 2019, Tropical Smoothie has been an exclusive title sponsor of the Frisco Bowl, a Division 1 college football game in Frisco, Texas, which was renamed the Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl.