Sports sponsorships have been around for nearly a century and in that time, the media world has grappled with how to put a value on what sports sponsorships deliver for brands. We believe in things like brand exposure, recognition, and association, but quantifying the true impact of investments like naming rights, permanent signage, and team or league sponsorships has always been a mixture of art and science.
Scott Chartrand recently wrote a piece for Front Office Sports called Are NFL Stadium Rights Worth It? where he detailed the past and present NFL stadium naming rights investments and discussed how those investments were valued. It’s clear that there’s no exact science to measure such a valuation, as studies over the past 30 years have shown varying levels of perceived success. As is referenced in the article, a study showed only moderate impact: “We find little evidence that the purchase of naming rights had a statistically significant impact on the value of the companies that bought them, even less evidence that the impact was positive, and no evidence at all that there was a permanent, positive impact.”
As Chartrand notes, it’s certainly possible to argue that it’s too great of a task for a naming rights deal to improve the stock price of a company, and that’s why companies that do invest in naming rights deals are leaning more heavily on the intrinsic value they generate and the ability to activate the sponsorship to amplify the benefit.
One recent example of leveraging a sponsorship deal comes from Gatorade. Their sponsorship deal was a rebranding effort, as they purchased the rights to rename the NBA Development League – previously known as the D-League – as the G-League. It was clear from the very beginning that this wasn’t a simple naming rights deal for Gatorade. “The premise for [the deal] actually was to allow us to push on our innovation agenda and doing that with basically — this will sound a little off — but, using professional athletes as a part of like our lab,” described Gatorade’s Head of Consumer Engagement, Kenny Mitchell, during Ad Week in New York. “So, if we want to showcase a protein-enriched shake, we may test it with the Gatorade developmental league and then we might be launching it with NBA players.”
This approach is important because it’s a great example of how brands can make the most of their sponsorships. In this example, Gatorade doesn’t have to rely only on brand association, visibility, or intrinsic value to estimate the true value of their sponsorship spend. By activating that sponsorship – by engaging assets associated with their deal to gain additional engagement and insights – Gatorade is improving the reach and impact of the entire program.
At InStadium, sponsorship activation is a core component of what we help brands do. We leverage the live sports environment, our years of expertise, our network of over 425 teams across the country, and the power of dynamic and engaging media assets to bring brand messages to life. We combine contextual mobile advertising capabilities with video board, LED crowd rings, and PA announcements to activate sponsorships at incredible scale and engagement levels.
Over the years, we’ve partnered with some of the best brands in America to make sure their sponsorships work as hard as possible and reach fans in the live environment when they’re ready to engage.
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