Sponsor Insights

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
  • 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. 


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

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

March Brand Power Rankings

The March Brand Power Rankings are out and Cryptocurrency holds the #1 spot on the 30 most searched brands. Toyota took home this month’s top spot. Why?

The month of March, Cryptocurrency secured 8 spots in the top 30, and 3 in the top 10. The most searched Cryptocurrency brands were Crypto.com, FTX and Coinbase which all moved up the list in this month’s top 10. Crypto.com now sits as the 2nd most searched brand, moving up from 6th spot in February. FTX and Coinbase, previously sitting at 8th and 10th last month, rose up to 7th and 8th, respectively in March’s power rankings.

The car manufacturing giant Toyota adds to its vast portfolio of deals with over 550 sponsorships, a 36% increase since 2020. This total includes sponsorships with more than 50% of NBA teams and deals with more than 70 Major Pro Sports teams in the US. During March, the company expanded its sponsorship holdings by inking deals with an Esports organization, Cricket team and BMX athlete.

Last month’s top 2 brands, HelloFresh and DUDE Products, both fell from their top spots this month but remained in the top 10. Quick Serve Restaurants own 30% of this month’s top 10, with Raising Cane’s, Jersey Mike’s and Dunkin’ coming in at 3rd, 4th and 10th, respectively. During the month of March, QSR brands signed more than 10 deals across various properties which moved this category towards the top of the list. Intuit enters this month’s power rankings at 8th after ranking outside the top 30 last month. Hydro Flask rounds out March’s top 10 brands coming in at 9th for the month.


2022 March Brand Power Rankings

February Brand Power Rankings

Continuing their hot streak in February, nearly 1 out of every 3 brands was still in the financial category, just two less this month than January. Four of the brands in the category were Cryptocurrency brands while 3 out of the top 10 were Crypto brands as the topic of digital innovation continues to stay top of mind. The only two brands that stayed in the top 10 from January to February were FTX and Crypto.com, while Coinbase in the same category jumped in. HelloFresh saw a jump from #57 in January to #1 in February after they entered the NHL.  

Their newest partners, the New York Islanders, Los Angeles Kings and Nashville Predators all include a promotion sponsorship for fans who use a promo code dedicated to the team. Within each venue the brand will also be visible with digital signage such as exit tunnel signage with the Predators and Islanders.

Overall, HelloFresh has over 65 sponsorship deals having over 20 sponsorships within the podcast space  and 6 sponsorship deals within the NFL and NHL. The New York Liberty and HelloFresh have a deal with 10 sponsorship assets including TV-Visible signage as well as their logo on the sideline surface. New York and Los Angeles are the top markets for the brand each having four sponsorship or media deals in the market. Interesting to note that in both markets, the brand has a deal with the WNBA team and one NHL team. Paige Turley, a reality tv influencer, posted the highest engagement with the brand within all of their branded social media posts while the LA Kings have the highest amongst teams.


January 2022 | Power Rankings

As the first month of 2022 comes to an end, we highlight the brands that saw the highest search volume on the SponsorUnited platform by sponsorship executives in January. 1 out of every 3 brands came from the Financial category while six of those brands were FinTech brands.

The Cryptocurrency space and NFT’s continue to stay top of mind in terms of future sponsorships deals as five brands stayed hot securing spots in the top 15 in January. Crypto.com and FTX landed in the top six after both signing huge deals in 2021. FTX signed a venue naming rights deal with the Miami Heat while Crypto.com took over the naming rights of the famous Staples Center which renamed the venue to the Cyrpto.com Arena.

Moon Oral Care comes in at the top spot after signing deals in December with Kendall Jenner and Odell Beckham Jr. The long-term partnership will help expand the brands premium design-led products, while Odell will help expand its reach to men.

HomingPin lands at number two as they expand their NBA footprint. The brand has six total deals with NBA teams, five in the eastern conference and one on the west coast with the Sacramento Kings.

These Organizations are Crushing the Social Game for Tech Brands

FC Barcelona has the highest average engagement per tech branded post over any other property. Leveraging brands like Estrella Damm, Gatorade, and Beko Global across their social media channels FC Barcelona has a total gross social following of 261M. Other international football teams and leagues with the highest engagement on social media include Real Madrid C.F., Chelsea Football Club, and The Premier League.

Popularity Contest: Thirst for Crypto Partnerships Helps Finance Retain #1 Rank in Sports & Entertainment Category Search in ’21

According to SponsorUnited data, there was a 672% increase in the number of Cryptocurrency brands buying sponsorship or media from 2020 to 2021 with Coinbase, Crypto.com & FTX being the three most searched Financial brands.

Have NFT’s followed the Cryptocurrency hot streak?

As much buzz as NFT’s have been getting as of late, SponsorUnited is not seeing nearly the research and partnership demand as you’d expect vs. other hot categories within the SponsorUnited platform. Last week (1/16-1/22), our search data shows that sports & entertainment executives continue to look for the next big brand in Cryptocurrency as these brands saw 4.9X more search than NFT’s. 

As for NFT’s, Socios.com a platform that looks to bring the fans closer to the team. Socios.com currently has a partnership with 26 NBA teams according to the SponsorUnited platform, while expanding with 40+ new deals in the United States in 2021. Their expansion into the US comes after a year where they had 90% of their deals internationally which is now just over 60%.