Does Winning Championships Mean More Sponsorships?
We know that winning on the field usually translates to a considerable uptick in TV ratings, attendance and ticket sales. But does the same logic apply to sponsorships? To find out, SponsorPitch reached out to a few of our members at recent championship teams to learn about how winning on the field effects sponsorship sales and renewals. The answer is a mix of no and yes. For some teams, the sponsorship sales cycle is so long that short term winning may not show up in increased sales until months or even years down the road while for others, championships offer a unique and rare opportunity to not only reward longtime partners, but also introduce the team to a whole new set of corporate sponsors.
The 2018 Stanley Cup champion, Washington Capitals, noted that sponsorship is essentially the same, but CJ Simmons, Manager of Corporate Partnership Analytics, says that winning a championship has made the team even more conscious of how it executes partnership deals and use of marks. "We want to make sure we are overall working with a partner where we blend well together to help make the wholistic experience a success," says Simmons. "For the Stanley Cup parade, we were under a short timeline to put together the joyous event. In helping to put this on, we reached out to some sponsors which we had a great partnership with to be sponsors of the parade. Their willingness and understanding of how we do business helped make the additional event seamless because of our trust and solid rapport with one another."
While 90% of sponsorship are done before the season starts, the 2018 WNBA champion, Seattle Storm, leveraged their recent championship to both generate additional revenue from current partners and let new corporations dip their toe in the water of sponsorship.
"The playoffs do provide a great opportunity for current partners to enhance their presence or amplify their existing promotions. We added 4 new partners during the playoffs," says Nate Silverman, Senior VP of Corporate Partnerships and Social Responsibility at the Storm. "Any time you can get sponsors to dip their toe in the water under the assumption that if this goes well, they'll want to step up next year, it's a great thing. We work with a lot of brands in Seattle that have never done sports sponsorship before, so these deals are great because it may lead to bigger things in the future."
At the end of the day though, on-field performance is highly volatile so linking success with sponsorships is a risky strategy. While capitalizing on short-term opportunity is smart, it doesn't replace a client-first, objective-focused approach to corporate partnerships.
"While winning is certainly great for the fans and the business, our job in the global partnerships department doesn’t change," says Bryce Eldridge, Director of Global Partnerships at 2017 MLS Cup champion, Toronto FC. "Our commitment to building programming that is tailored to meet the objectives of our partners, combined with the creativity and strategic thinking of our people, is what drives our business forward. The world of sports/entertainment can be unpredictable so it’s important to focus on what you can control if you’re going to succeed.”