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Professional Sports Sponsorships—Is it Worth it?
One of the best ways for brands to tap into the sports market is through local and national sports sponsorships.

According to AdAge, ads for February’s upcoming Super Bowl cost an average of $10,000,000 for just 60 seconds of air time. And while gaudy television spots are one highly visible way that brands are capitalizing on the ever-growing popularity of sports, franchise companies have other sports related avenues at their disposal if breaking the bank for a Super Bowl ad is not in the cards.

One of the best ways for brands to tap into the sports market is through local and national sports sponsorships.

Smoothie King, based in New Orleans, was looking to boost the brand to the international stage when the smoothie giant purchased the naming rights to the home of the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans.

“When we launched the Smoothie King Center our goal was to elevate the Smoothie King brand to the global stage with a like-minded partner in addition to contributing in a significant way to our hometown,” said Katherine LeBlanc, Smoothie King Manager, Marketing and Communications. “We accomplished both goals working with the NBA, a global brand, to bring the Pelicans partnership to life and Tom Benson, owner of the New Orleans’ Saints and Pelicans, to lend a hometown name to the hometown team.”

And while Smoothie King’s partnership with the Pelicans has certainly brought buzz and cachet to the brand, the basketball limelight has also led to new business.

“We launched the Smoothie King Center just in time for the 2014 NBA All-Star game which New Orleans hosted,” said LeBlanc. “Because of that exposure a franchisee in the Midwest began his journey to becoming a multi-unit franchisee in an untapped market.”

Sport Clips, a nationwide haircutting franchise known for giving its guests the MVP treatment, has likewise seen success with large, national sports sponsorships.

As a brand with sports right in its name, Sport Clips has had partnerships across almost every sport, including a highly visible deal as car sponsor for NASCAR’s Denny Hamlin.

However, according to Founder and CEO Gordon Logan, some of the most powerful sports sponsorships for brands exist locally.

“The best bang for the buck is at the local level,” said Logan. “People like to do business with their neighbors.”

In that same vein, Logan says that some of the brand’s best results have come from sponsorships with local Minor League Baseball teams.

“Minor League Baseball has been really good and really effective for us locally,” said Logan. “The only ones that haven’t worked for us have been when we have not put in the budget and effort to hit that local presence.”

Even if a brand does not have sports in the name or an obvious direct connection to athletics, smaller local connections can still be effective.

“Our mission to inspire people to live a healthy and active lifestyle aligns with sports and sports partnerships in a unique way for a quick service restaurant. We sell Smoothies ‘With A Purpose’ and many of our guests’ purpose are directly related to fitness and sports," said LeBlanc. "We hope to propel our guests to their goals whether it’s winning championships as part of a professional team or just hitting a personal record in the local 5K.”

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