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    Signing a Deal for Sports Sponsorship

    Next time you’re at a sporting event, stop to count (and potentially appreciate) all the sponsorship signs you see. Depending on the venue, you’ll get static signs, backlit signs, digital signs … signs in the bathroom, signs on your seat, signs on the walkways, and almost anywhere you look. In fact, I challenge you to stand pretty much anywhere at any sports venue and not see any sponsorship signs.

    Why is signage important to your sports marketing efforts?

    Signage is an important component of a sports sponsorship execution for a number of reasons:

    • It establishes a primary and valuable attribute …namely, affiliation. The tribal mentality of sports lends itself to brands generating value for having a relationship with the team.

    • Sponsorship signage reinforces brand validity. Having presence in a sports venue not only gives your brand credibility, it can eliminate barriers to engagement.

    • In some cases, signage at a sports venue can serve a call to action. This is especially impactful when you can tie the team or team performance in with a call to action (e.g. Taco Bell’s 5 run promotion with the Diamondbacks).

    I am generally more favorable to digital signage for the same reason that I favor digital media. You can readily change it, it grabs the consumers attention, and depending on the asset, it’s possible to deliver a longer, more impactful message.

    Sporting venues can overdo it with signage assets.

    As much as I like signage as part of a comprehensive sports marketing sponsorship, I also am quick to see the pitfalls of too much signage. As the former GM at Arizona State University, I had over 150 signage assets in Sun Devil Stadium. It was overkill and ultimately counter intuitive to our goal of generating greater recall for our primary sponsors.

    I applaud the recent remodel for a number of reasons, not the least of which is eliminating the vast amounts of signs that used to cluttered that venue.

    Too many sports sponsorship signs at a venue convolutes a number of important components to your sports sponsorship efforts. It creates sensory overload, negatively affects fan recall, and waters down asset value. Soccer and car racing are two sports with too much signage but for some reason seem to get a pass from sponsors and fans alike. The photo here is from a Seattle Sounders game that features one of our clients in that market. In my opinion, there’s just way too much going on here. If this wasn’t part of a larger deal with the Seahawks, I’d be making changes.

    There’s a lot that goes into a sign when it comes to sports sponsorship.

    So, as you count those signs, know that a lot goes into each one. You can assess a sign based on its location, visibility in venue, visibility on TV, size, and other factors that affect the cost and ultimate value of each sign. Signs with a high degree of prominence are reflective of bigger, more complex deals. For example, the Coca Cola sign at Sun Devil Stadium is an element to a much larger deal that has multiple layers to it including product for the team, pouring rights in the stadium, and the ability to use marks for their sales efforts.

    Green screen technology allows for video providers to sell valuable TV visible signage assets that can be readily changed and served geographically. As the technology progresses, digital providers will continue to serve specific ads to their audiences on green screen backdrops. Major League Baseball was the first to use green screen technology but it is now finding its way to dasher boards in hockey and stadium assets in football and basketball. It’s another example of how digital technology can affect even the most basic sports sponsorship asset.

    At Line Drive Sports Marketing, we appreciate the fact that we do business in two of the best (and largest) sports markets in America. We are here to help you in your sports sponsorship endeavors. If you are buying sports sponsorship assets, know that you really need to go beyond a sign to properly impact your marketing efforts. If you’ve purchased a sports sponsorship and came away with only a sign, contact Line Drive to get your sports sponsorship house in order. If you’re looking at investing with a sports team and not sure what role signage should play, we can help you with that too.

    About the author: Ed Olsen is the CEO of Line Drive Sports Marketing. He is a former adjunct professor at Arizona State University and has lots of opinions on all things sports.

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