Dec 30, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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The Top Sponsorship Stories of 2015

It is hard to believe that we've come to the end of another year. We're honored that you chose to spend some of it with SponsorPitch.

Having tracked every major sponsorship deal over the past 365 days, we've got a pretty good pulse on what's happening out there and we annually take this opportunity to share a short summary of it with you. So without further ado, here's our fourth annual list of the top sponsorship stories of 2015.

Daily Fantasy Deal Frenzy: To say this category has been good to sponsorship sellers would be the understatement of 2015. A good portion of the $375 million raised by DraftKings and $360 million raised by FanDuel have been earmarked to North American sports advertising and sponsorships and you'd be hard pressed to go to a major North American sports arena (horse race, boxing match or bowl game for that matter) without seeing promotion for one of the two daily fantasy heavyweights. However, with states like New York and Illinois now cracking down on the category, the sponsorship windfall may be winding down. It's likely that daily fantasy companies like DraftKings and FanDuel will set their sights for their next sponsorship deals on untapped and more gaming friendly markets such as Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America as they look to aggressively introduce their wildly popular products overseas in 2016.

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Beyond Bedding: The mattress category is so 2014. Ever heard of Bedgear, Casper or Rem-Fit? Neither had we before 2015. These start-ups, and others, are part of a new breed of companies in the custom and performance bedding category. Rem-fit, which recently signed its first sports team deal, bills itself as "active lifestyle bedding" and Bedgear, which has deals with the Denver Broncos, Detroit Tigers, New York Islanders, New York Mets and San Diego Padres is promoted as "performance bedding." Casper, for its part, raised another $55 million in 2015 and is advertising heavily to bring next-generation mattresses directly to your door.

The "M" Word: It seems that almost no ad campaign is launched without carefully considering how to engage Millennials, according to Merriam-Webster a person born in the 1980s or 1990s. As the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, look for more and more marketers to use events and experiences to engage with this increasingly influential and affluent audience.

Music Stars Set A New Sponsorship Bar:: With the emergence of digital, the world's most recognized music stars are increasingly cashing in on sponsorships that go way beyond the concert venue. In the past few months, Apple Music signed a blockbuster deal with Taylor Swift, Adele was reportedly shopping a $30 million sponsorship opp, and Rihanna signed Samsung for a cool $25 mil.

Smartphones Make A Splash With Sponsorships: While Samsung signed deals with Rihanna, Sundance Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival and others; the most surprising activity in the smartphone category came from a cadre of emerging Chinese smartphone companies looking to establish and increase consumer awareness in the U.S. Among this wave of companies signing highly visible sponsorships in the U.S. are ZTE (Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers), TCL (NYC FC, Toronto FC and The Color Run) and Huawei (Ottawa Senators, launching U.S. marketing push with DDB New York).

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Merger Mania: 2015 was the biggest year ever for mergers and acquisitions. Some of the industries shaken by major mergers include healthcare, technology, energy, chemicals, consumer packaged goods and telecommunications. With category consolidation, one might expect sponsors to gain leverage with properties by way of fewer competitors bidding for exclusivity. Something to watch in 2016 as recently merged companies like AB InBev, SAB Miller, Shell, Dell, EMC, DuPont, Dow Chemical, Pfizer, Allergan, Heinz, Kraft Foods, Cigna, Williams, Charter Communications, Time Warner and many others seek to realize forecasted post-merger cost efficiencies.

Sharing Economy Sponsorships: In 2015, peer-to-peer marketplaces picked up their sponsorship game in a big way. Uber teamed up with Live Nation to provide concert & festival goers transportation at over 62 LN venues and 20 festivals nationwide; Airbnb signed deals with the New York City Marathon, the Rio Olympics, Manor F1 Team, Pitchfork Music Festival, the Chicago Bulls and the Sydney Opera House among other top notch properties; and Kickstarter recently became an official sponsor of Sundance Film Festival. Keep an eye out for more win-win sponsorship deals from the sharing economy in 2016.

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Of course, that's just a small sampling of the sponsorship trends, data and activity that we're tracking so that you can buy and sell more effective sponsorship deals. What did we miss? Let us know in comments and if you want to flashback to our top stories of 2014, click here.

Thank you to all of our subscribers for making 2015 such a fantastic year and very best wishes for a happy and successful, sponsorship-filled 2016 from the team at SponsorPitch!

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