Minnesota Pro Teams Find New Revenue Stream With Uniform Ad Placement

The Los Angeles Lakers of the NBA announced in September that Bibigo, a South Korean food brand, had become the sponsor of the team’s new jersey. The deal is said to be worth more than $ 100 million over a five-year period.

Typically, this amount is what companies spend on arena or stadium naming rights, not three-inch patches on player uniforms.

While NASCAR drivers have worn sponsor logos on their uniforms for decades, the concept of teams using player uniforms as advertising space is fairly new with major professional sports leagues in the United States, and it is gaining ground.

The Minnesota Timberwolves and the Wild both announced partnership deals in the fall for jersey and helmet ad placement. The Wild responds to requests from jersey sponsors.

“We have had brands that have contacted us in the past, unsolicited, so we know there is a demand,” said Carin Anderson, senior vice president of corporate partnerships and sales management. Minnesota Wild Retail. “This creates a whole new opportunity for us at an unprecedented level for a reputable asset.”

Minnesota United has struck a deal with Target Corp. for jersey sponsorship since joining Major League Soccer in 2017, said Bryant Pfeiffer, the team’s revenue director.

However, some of the biggest leagues in America have been slow to adopt this form of advertising. Major League Baseball did not approve the advertisement for the helmets or jerseys, leaving the Twins unable to venture into jerseys or helmets offers.

The NFL does not yet allow teams to sell jersey patches or advertisements for helmet stickers for game day jerseys. Teams may, however, sell ads for training jerseys.

Training Haus – an athletic training and rehabilitation center and a service operated by Twin Cities Orthopedics, the Viking training center sponsor – became the team’s training jersey partner in 2021.

Meanwhile, European football teams have used jersey sponsorship for over 20 years. The 2020-2021 European football season brought in nearly $ 1.6 billion in sponsorship revenue, said Jon Stainer of Nielsen Sports, the New York-based sports intelligence firm.

The Timberwolves this fall announced a multi-year partnership with Aura, a provider of digital security for consumers, while Wild announced that its existing partner Twin Cities Toyota Dealers has become a multi-year exclusive partner for helmet ad placement.

Terms of the two agreements were not disclosed. But according to Navigate, a Chicago-based sports and entertainment consultancy, the NBA jersey patch offerings are going to be marketed in the range of $ 5 million to $ 20 million, and throughout the NHL, the placement offers of Promotional headsets range from $ 1 million to $ 10 million.

In the regular 2020-2021 seasons, sponsor placements accounted for 3.1% of media value for the Wild, which is roughly the league average, and 16.6% for Minnesota United, which is just below average for teams playing in Major League Soccer. , according to Nielsen’s Sport24 service, which measures and quantifies brand exposure during game broadcasts in terms of screen exposure time and logo clarity.

Since 2017, the NBA has allowed teams to sell advertising badges on the left shoulder of team jerseys. The WNBA, meanwhile, has had a brand partner on jerseys since 2011. Mayo Clinic has been the primary sponsor of the Minnesota Lynx jersey since 2014, while Atlanta-based digital health company Sharecare has been the partner of jersey patches since 2019. .

The NBA patch program has generated more than $ 150 million since 2017, according to industry reports.

Nielsen’s Sport24 data for the Timberwolves was not available as the team did not have a jersey patch for the 2020-2021 season. Fitbit, the Google-owned electronics and fitness company, reportedly paid $ 3 million a year to be the Timberwolves’ first exclusive jersey patch partner, according to SportsPro Media. The 2019-2020 season was the last year of the Fitbit partnership.

In addition to being the official jersey partner of the Timberwolves, Aura will also be the official digital security provider for the Timberwolves and have the title of presenting partner of the season, as well as signage in the arena and on the field.

“They will go wherever we go, home games or away, so fans in other markets, whether in the arena or watching from home, will be exposed to these brands,” said Ryan Tanke. , COO of Timberwolves.

The Aura name will also be placed on the jerseys of players at T-Wolves Gaming, Wolves’ NBA 2K e-sports franchise, marking the first time the games franchise has had a jersey sponsor, Tanke said.

The NHL in 2020 allowed teams to sell advertising spots on helmets so that brand partners could recoup some of their investments with teams playing in empty arenas due to COVID. These investments have brought in $ 100 million in income for NHL teams, according to Sportico.

Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy, the naming rights holder of the original Wild arena in St. Paul, was the first to have a Wild helmet sticker underneath this pilot. The league expanded the helmet program and the Wild struck a deal with Toyota Twin Cities dealers.

“Having the opportunity as a brand to fit in with the likeness of the player is a unique opportunity and connects you to the high performance athlete consumers pay attention to during the game,” said the Wild’s Anderson.

At the end of 2021, the NHL Board of Governors authorized teams to sell advertising badges on player jerseys for the 2022-2023 season. The official team jersey sold in the Wild store in the Xcel Energy arena will feature the new jersey patch, Anderson said.

Starting in the 2020 season, MLS has allowed teams to sell patches on the sleeve of a jersey as well as on the front. Minnesota United has conversations with a few companies about selling shirt sleeve advertising, said Pfeiffer, chief revenue officer.

Placing ads on soccer jerseys has the potential to generate significant revenue for Minnesota United, Pfeiffer said. It also allows the soccer club to partner with emerging categories of tech companies that have skyrocketed during the pandemic.

While it does not feature the same exposure as game day uniforms for NBA, NHL, and MLS players, corporate identities on NFL training jerseys are on display extensively during training camps, which attract thousands of fans and are widely covered by the media.

And with more than 90 players in training camp recorded and photographed, the corporate identity on these jerseys is driving significant exposure, said John Penhollow, Vikings revenue director.

“It can become quite a big exposure for them when all is said and done,” Penhollow said.

The Training Haus patch on the Vikings’ training jersey remains throughout the regular season, Penhollow said.

If the NFL allows patches on game day jerseys or helmet stickers, it will significantly change sports marketing agreements, said Stainer of Nielson Sports.

Kim Sovell, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of St. Thomas, says the new revenue stream could be included in future equations that will determine the value of teams.

As of 2021, the value of the Vikings increased 14%, year over year, to $ 3.35 billion, according to Forbes. The value of the Timberwolves rose 2% to $ 1.4 billion and that of the Wild by 35% to $ 675 million. Minnesota United was valued at $ 520 million, according to Sportico, up from $ 300 million in 2019.

Given the income opportunities from the placement of jersey badges and helmet stickers, partnership arrangements of this nature will be commonplace in U.S. professional sports, said Sovell, who likened these placements to banner ads on Internet.

“We might not necessarily be aware of the helmet logo or jersey patch, but it’s starting to get familiar with everyone whose subconscious sees it,” she said.

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