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
  • 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. 

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MLS All-Star Skills Challenge

SponsorUnited was on the ground at the 2022 MLS All-Star Skills Challenge. Below are the top 3 most commonly seen brands during the Minneapolis-based event.

Event Activations:
AT&T
Old Spice
Bounty

ESPN Broadcast:
AT&T
GMC
Frontier Communications

Check out the graphic below to see how these brands activated during the event.

MLS ALL-Star Week (7)

UEFA 2022 Women’s Euro Instant Replay

The  UEFA 2022 Women’s Euro–which wrapped up in London on Sunday–garnered record attendance across the entire tournament, doubling it from 2017 for a new record of nearly 575,000 spectators. 

The final match–which saw England win its first-ever major women’s championship with a 2-1 victory over Germany–also set new records for attendance and broadcast viewership, with over 87,000 fans and 17.5 million viewers in the UK, respectively. 

Fifteen brands leveraged the tournament’s unprecedented spotlight as sponsors, with visibility on social media and at the venues. Healthcare brand Grifols’ many sponsorship assets included signage on the video board, sponsored content via email, and social media posts of the tournament’s top scorer, Beth Mead.

Heineken had a unique opportunity as presenting sponsor of the pregame warm-up for some of the matches, which included a live DJ set.

As the presenting sponsor of the “player of the match” for all 31 games, VISA enjoyed prime positioning, with its logo front and center on the trophy. VISA also scored the most social posts with the UEFA Women’s Champions League with 72–nearly double those of second-place Heineken.

VISA’s social posts with the UEFA outnumbers all other brands in 2022, while Heineken scored the highest total engagement with the league, with 160,000 followers across 46 posts. Heineken also leads in highest average engagement per post, at over 3,000 followers.

VISA and Heineken also created campaigns celebrating women’s empowerment surrounding the tournament. Heineken launched a campaign in May that encourages fans of all genders to show their passion for women’s football. VISA’s campaign, unveiled last month across audio, digital, and print formats, leveraged the tagline, “When more of us play, all of us win,” in homage to female athletes.

Women's Euros Final Instant Replay

Upper Deck Woos Young NHL Fans

Leading sports collectibles company Upper Deck–an NHL partner since 1990–has brought its knack for innovative activations to its role as the title sponsor for the NHL Entry Draft, which begins today. The exclusive licensed manufacturer of NHL Trading Cards, the company is also keen to expand into the NFT space. 

In keeping with its longtime strategy of boosting younger generations’ engagement with the NHL–both inside and outside the arena–Upper Deck has been drumming up excitement for the draft citywide since June 26th, when the Upper Deck truck began roaming Montreal’s streets. Free giveaways along its nine-stop route include 2022 draft exclusive 9-card player sheets, as well as mini posters of Shane Wright, Upper Deck ambassador and potential #1 draft pick. Fans were encouraged to post their truck pics on social media with the hashtag #CollectTheBest. 

The fun continues inside the Bell Centre today, where Puck-O–a variation on Plinko–on the arena concourse offers kids the chance to win customized play mats, calendars, and other prizes with the purchase of one pack of Upper Deck hobby cards. 

At NHL marquee events, card games–like “pack wars” to determine who has the most valuable card, and kids’ bingo with NHL mascots–have been another unique tactic for cultivating young fans. Upper Deck launched an online game during the Stanley Cup, when fans could win a free player pack by guessing the players’ identities from their descriptions.

The company was also the presenting sponsor of the Mascot Showdown at the 2022 All-Star Game, where team mascots faced off in competitions including dodgeball and broomball. Upper Deck was tagged in Instagram posts and featured with signage throughout the video along the boards of the rink.

To read more about the NHL partnerships this year, download our 2021-22 NHL Marketing & Partnerships Report .

The NHL’s Big Leap In Cause-Related Marketing

Cause-related sponsorship campaigns in the NHL grew 23% this year over last–placing the league second only to the NFL in activating community/cause-related assets in professional sports. Following the recent release of SponsorUnited’s NHL 2021-2022 Marketing & Partnerships Annual Report, here’s a quick look at the biggest cause-related sponsorship takeaways this season.

More than 320+ brands activated NHL community/cause-related campaigns–led by Scotiabank, which launched multiple campaigns with the NHL and four Canadian teams (the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Winnipeg Jets, and Edmonton Oilers). Other brands with the highest frequency of these campaigns were as follows:

  1. TD Bank
  2. EverFi
  3. Ford Motor Company
  4. Northwell Health
  5. Bauer Hockey
  6. Chase
  7. SAP
  8. adidas
  9. Tim Hortons
  10. Kaiser Permanente
  11. Esso
  12. Boeing
  13. Budweiser
  14. Stop & Shop
  15. Dunkin’
  16. National Grid
  17. Love Your Melon
  18. Toyota
  19. BMO Harris Bank


Financial brands led all industries, overtaking Healthcare brands as the most active supporter of causes. Insurance, Technology, and Auto (in that order) rounded out the top-five industry categories, which alone contributed to almost half of all NHL cause-related sponsorship campaigns. 

To learn more, check out the SponsorUnited NHL 2021-2022 Marketing & Partnerships Annual Report at https://sponsorunited.com/nhl-partnerships-report/.

Cause Related Marketing

SportsNet & ABC, The Homes Of The 2022 Stanley Cup

Game 5 of the NHL Stanley Cups takes place tonight, as both the Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche look to take home the cup. The Finals feature different broadcasts for US and Canadian based fans, with ABC hosting the US coverage and SportsNet hosting Canadian coverage. Looking back at the first game of the series, what differences and similarities did we find between the brands and assets sponsoring the most important matchup of the NHL season?

SportsNet’s broadcast featured 46 unique brands. The top three most frequent brands and their assets during the Canadian coverage were:

  • DraftKings (Gaming)
  • Logo in Broadcast Studio
  • Live Read Commercial
  • Sponsored Segment
  • Split Screen Commercial
  • Recorded Commercial (3)

​​On Canadian broadcasts, the gaming category ranked 3rd. Didn’t crack the top 10 for US broadcasts. Reasoning would logically be legalization of single-game gambling in Canada this past August before the season started.

  • Scotiabank (Banking)
  • Period Naming Rights (Presenting Sponsor)
  • Live Read Commercial
  • Logo Pop Up
  • Recorded Commercial (3)
  • SkipTheDishes (On-Demand Delivery)
  • Sponsored Segment
  • Live Read Commercial
  • Recorded Commercial (2)

ABC’s broadcast featured 61 unique brands. The three most prominent brands from the  US coverage were as follows:

  • Lexus (Luxury Car Manufacturer)
  • Intermission Report Naming Rights (Presenting Sponsor)
  • Logo in Studio
  • Live Read Commercial
  • Recorded Commercial (4)
  • GEICO (Insurance
  • Presenting Sponsor of the 2022 Stanley Cup Finals
  • Live Read Commercial
  • Logo Pop up
  • Recorded Commercial (3)
  • Verizon (Telecommunications)
  • Pregame Naming Rights (Presenting Sponsor)
  • Logo in Studio
  • Recorded Commercial (3)

NHL Partnerships Report

DOWNLOAD REPORT: https://sponsorunited.com/nhl-2021-22-report/

Finance companies boost NHL team sponsorship revenue past the $1B mark for the first time in league history

The NHL 2021-22 Marketing & Partnerships Annual Report highlights trends in sponsorships surrounding the National Hockey League, teams, athletes, and media partners. Uncover data on over 3,300 NHL partnership deals and over 2,000 active brands buying sponsorships and media in the NHL.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Finance companies boost NHL team sponsorship revenue past the $1B mark for the first time in league history.
    This jump is a 63% increase from the $623 million in the 2020-21 season.
  • Cause-related sponsorship campaigns increased 23% year over year, with Finance brands overtaking Healthcare brands as the most active supporter of causes.
    On average, 10 brands activated against a cause (vs. 8 last season.)
  • The seven Canadian teams had a higher average social following compared to the 23 US teams.
    Brands received 2x the engagement with US teams.
  • The NHL league account posts more than any other pro sports league, in fact, 2x more than the NFL (second-most.)
    No team or player in the NHL has a larger social following than the league itself.
  • Banking and Beer brands were the top spenders as marquee brands continued to increase spend this season.
    Beer companies more than doubled their spend with NHL teams which moved the Beverage (Alcoholic) category past Healthcare to #2.

Methodology

This report was compiled using SponsorUnited’s proprietary platform data from September 2021 through June 2022.

*Social Data Compiled from Property or Person-Controlled Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn Social Accounts and Activity.

Memorial Cup Qualifying Teams

The CHL’s 2022 Memorial Cup began this week, a four-team round-robin tournament held at TD Station.

We highlight the sponsorship and media activity of the four competing teams during the nine day tournament.

Memorial Cup Qualifying Teams

European Football 2021-22 Report

European Football Sponsorships

Download Now: https://sponsorunited.com/2021-22-european-football-partnerships/

The first international sponsorship and marketing report focused on European football.

The 2021-22 European Football Partnerships Report is fortified by data from over 7,000 brands across more than 9,000 deals and from 10 of the top European football leagues (Premier League, LaLiga, Serie A, Bundesliga and Ligue 1, along with each league’s corresponding second tier.) This report also contains growth and engagement insights on over 2,750 brands that created collaborative social media content.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Construction is the most active sponsorship category for the third consecutive season across European football leagues.
  • While Betting deals have declined by 10%, Crypto deals have grown an impressive 140% this season.
  • The most searched brands by European football club executives were Crypto.com, FTX, DraftKings, Verizon and Dunkin’.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi now officially have over 1B followers combined due in part to joining new clubs.
  • Transferring teams can offer a huge boost in social following for players.

This report was compiled using SponsorUnited’s proprietary platform data from July 2021 through May 2022. Social data compiled from property or person-controlled Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and LinkedIn accounts and social activity. The leagues included in this report are as follows: Premier League, LaLiga, Serie A, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, EFL Championship, LaLiga 2, Serie B, 2. Bundesliga, Ligue 2.

EuroLeague Final Four

For the last 12 years, Turkish Airlines has been the exclusive title sponsor for the EuroLeague’s competition. While the exclusive title sponsor spot is taken, other brands like adidas, BKT, Spalding and 7days carry a large presence all over Europe during the games. For some brands, a partnership just for the Final Four is enough. Technogym and Acibadem have deals only at the season’s end and provide technical equipment and services to the teams.

The EuroLeague has been deemed the most important basketball tournament in Europe which includes the best teams throughout Europe. The league, a semi-closed league, consists of 18 teams competing to qualify to the Final Four which leads to being crowned the champions of Europe. This year the final stage is set in Belgrade, Serbia, in the Stark Arena. 

The four teams competing for the title are the reigning champion, Anadolu Efes, who are looking to bring the title back to Turkey. The Spanish giants, Real Madrid and Barcelona, who bring the national rivalry to the international sphere. Finally, Olympiacos qualified second in the regular season to make the Final Four.

Off the court, Real Madrid ranks #1 in terms of social media following in the EuroLeague with 18M followers across all platforms, a sizeable lead over FC Barcelona ranked #2 with just over 3.5M. Anadolu Efes and Olympaicos rank #6 and #7 respectively within the EuroLeague.