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.

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