Dec 28, 2018 at 12:00 AM
written by

The Top Sponsorship Stories of 2018

2018 saw some seismic shifts in the sponsorship landscape. From the legalization of gambling and opening up of that category to the uptick in companies willing to make seven and eight figure investments in jersey sponsorships, there has never been a more exciting time to be buying or selling sponsorships. Taking that momentum into 2019, SponsorPitch is here to help make the next year your best year yet. But first, here's our annual look back at some of the past year's biggest sponsorship stories.

Jersey Sponsorships - Who's Next?

With The Pacers becoming the 29th NBA team to announce a jersey patch sponsor earlier this month, all but one NBA team (the Oklahoma City Thunder) currently has a jersey patch partner. From start-ups like ROKiT and Zenni to well-recognized blue chips like Geico, jersey sponsorship have created an exciting new sponsorship alternative to a wide variety of companies. The question now, is which league is next? MLB, NHL or NFL?

Hard Seltzer x Festivals

Mike's Hard Lemonade's White Claw Beverages, SpikedSeltzer and Boston Beer's Truly Spiked & Sparkling were among the brands that bulked up on sponsorships this year to establish dominance in the emerging hard seltzer category. Look for these sponsorships to continue as the category grows with new competitors aiming to court active, health conscious millennials through events.

Rolling the Dice

The NBA definitely took a gamble when it led the way for the legalization of sports betting earlier this year and it paid off in the form of a three-year, $25 million deal with MGM Resorts becoming the first league to land an official gaming partner. Since that time, the NFL and MLB have followed suit with similar MGM deals and numerous teams have found new money by way of the recently opened gaming category. To see all the latest deals in this category, input Gambling in the category filter at

Money in Meal Prep

Trifecta Nutrition, Clean Eats, Eat Rite, DeliverLean and category leader, Blue Apron, are a few of the companies that used sponsorships and experiential marketing to differentiate, create awareness and capture market share in this highly competitive category.

Golden Knights Cash In On Inaugural Success

Despite falling just short of the Stanley Cup in 2018, the NHL's newest franchise overwhelmingly exceeded expectations off the ice. Some of the sponsors that were rewarded for their early bet on the team include Toyota and Credit One Bank, while the team has added a host of new sponsors this season including becoming the first-ever NHL team to sign an official sportsbook sponsor.

Crypto Craters, Deals Don’t

Last December’s $19k bitcoin seems long ago with the price currently hovering around $4,000. That said, the significant drop in price hasn’t dampened enthusiasm for creating a new sponsorship category around cryptocurrency. Case in point, this weekend’s UFC 232 will have a cryptocurrency sponsor in the octagon.

Pizza Shake-Up

Once synonymous with football, Papa John's exited its NFL sponsorship after 8 years this year and saw some teams end their deals with the pizza chain in the wake of scandal. While Pizza Hut stepped in as the NFL's official pizza, in addition to partnering with new teams, look for Papa John's to continue to shake up and add to its still extensive sponsorship portfolio in 2019 with a new CMO and agency partner in Endeavor Global Marketing.


That's our rundown of some of the sponsorship trends SponsorPitch tracked in 2018. If you want to see all of the sponsorship deals that happened this year, you can download them with SponsorPitch's deal export feature and If you want to flashback to our top stories of 2017, click here.

There's still time to upgrade your subscription in 2018 and to start ‘19 off with a bang (and 10% off). Subscribe with the discount code newyear by midnight, 12/31/2018 to take advantage of this offer. 2019 is shaping up to be our biggest year yet and we can't wait to share our big plans for SponsorPitch with you in the new year!