What Is Sponsorship
Before quantifying the value of sponsorship, it is imperative to have a clear definition of
what sponsorship means. Sports sponsorship is defined through the relationship of sport
properties and corporate partners. Sport properties are the rights holders of assets that can be sold
to corporate partners. Properties are usually teams, leagues, schools, competitions or events.
Corporate partners are companies or organizations that buy these assets to achieve their sales,
advertising, marketing, and brand goals.
Inventory items are typically classified in seven main categories. While the following list
is not an exhaustive list, it covers the primary sponsorship inventory items purchased by
• Venue: While the most common form of inventory is signage, venues have a number of
inventory items, including naming rights deals, call-to-action campaigns on display
boards, luxury / hospitality suites, game tickets, and sales booths or tables.
• Traditional Media: Television, radio, and print (newspaper, magazines, and fliers)
comprise traditional media. The most common forms of advertising are a thirty second
advertising spot on television or radio along with print advertisements. Other common
activation elements include media billboards, product placement, on-air reads, and
• Digital and Mobile Media: Digital refers to advertising that occurs on a sport property’s
website or social media platforms. This normally includes digital billboards, videos, or
promoted social media posts. Mobile focuses on sponsorship inventory that can be
accessed on mobile devices. This usually involves geographic targeting that enables
properties and partners to target users in specific locations.
• Intellectual Property: The intellectual property of teams, leagues and individual athletes
is a valuable asset for corporate partners. The most common example is using a team or
league’s logo that is featured in an advertising campaign. For instance, Anheuser-Busch
InBev’s partnership with the National Football League (NFL) enables the company to
place NFL team logos on its Bud Light cans (Grossman, 2015). Having exclusive rights
to use intellectual property rights for a certain product or service category (i.e. Anheuser-
Busch has exclusive rights to the NFL spirits category) has been an attractive asset for
properties and sponsors. Buyers and sellers of sports sponsorship believe that this type of
inventory provides significant competitive advantage for the sponsor in the marketplace
• Experiential: Corporate partners often want to activate sponsorships with events, booths,
or displays both inside and outside of the venue. This includes special events for
customers or employees at a venue on non-gamedays or player appearances at corporate
• Jersey: Jersey sponsorships occur when an organization’s brand or logo is placed on the
front and/or back of a jersey.