State Farm Hits A Home Run at the Derby


Monday night’s T-Mobile Home Run Derby featured dazzling displays of power by some the game’s most fearsome sluggers including Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. Perhaps the biggest winners, however, were the corporate partners that were featured during the event. T-Mobile, as the name of the contest suggests, had activations throughout the broadcast, in-venue, and on social media.

State Farm was also one of the biggest winners through its partnership with the Miami Marlins. In particular, State Farm wanted to ensure that its name and logo would be featured prominently on a large, clear outfield sign in left-center field. The most valuable component of in-venue signage is often the exposure it gets outside the venue including live broadcast, highlights, and social media activations. State Farm’s outfield sign generates value throughout the Major League Baseball season because its placement is often visible when homeruns are hit by right-hand batters (which make up 75% of all MLB players). Homeruns are some of the most featured moments in all channels - in particular in highlights and social media. A large sign with a highly visible logo provides the best possibility for viewers to clearly see the corporate partner’s brand during a broadcast.

This State Farm execution also shows one significant benefit of static versus dynamic signage for corporate partners. The Home Run Derby virtually guarantees that outfield logos will be visible on screen for a significantly longer period than any game including the All-Star Game. In addition, the Home Run Derby typically secures a larger audience size during the broadcast than most regular season games. This year’s Derby continued that trend, generating a 5.5 rating, a 38% increase over last year. State Farm will likely generate as much, if not more value, from the Home Run Derby than the All-Star Game itself.

State Farm would not necessarily have had this opportunity had it purchased digital signage with the Marlins as supposed to static signage. For example, the MLB uses “virtual ads for postseason games and the All-Star Game in July, allowing sponsors to purchase ballpark ads tailored to specific regions.” Having the ability to target a specific message to customers in a specific region is a big advantage of these ads. However, a company has less certainty as to whether these virtual ads will be on screen at critical times during a game (like when a homerun is hit). State Farm’s deal with the Marlins for static signage ensured that its logo would be present when a homerun was hit to left-field, gaining national exposure during some of baseball’s most engaging events.

Both brands and teams can learn from State Farm’s example. In particular, it is critical to determine when strategically executed signage can guarantee value during a partnership. For baseball, not every sign needs to be behind home plate to generate significant value. Brands can target placements that will receive significant ROI for specific events. Properties can increase revenue by showing partners the value that is generated from these types of signs during special events. Maximizing these unique opportunities, such as the Home Run Derby, should be an important piece of partnership strategy for buyers and sellers of sports sponsorships.