Inventive marketing enables sponsors to cut through clutter

( Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE)
( Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE)

Visit just about any sports venue and observe the advertising signs on any exposed area.  Longtime Dodger fans can remember a time when the only sponsor signage at the ballpark was the Union 76 logo above the outfield scoreboard.  Safe to say those days are gone forever.

Cut through the clutter.  It’s a refrain we hear often in sports marketing today.

So the challenge for sponsors and sports marketers is to develop an idea, concept or campaign that will stand out in the minds of fans or venue visitors.  In an era of bobblehead madness, developing and implementing an effective promotion will not only differentiate a sponsor, it will accentuate the sponsor’s existing presence as well.

The Tampa Bay Rays-Miller Lite “Ray for a Day” promotion is a great example of a sponsor successfully standing out.  The promotion offered a fan an opportunity to fulfill the ultimate game-day experience.  What made the promotion unique was that the winner received representation by super agent Drew Rosenhaus to negotiate the terms of the prize with Rays’ senior management.

After the negotiations concluded, the team held a press conference and announced the winner would receive the following: a one-year supply of Miller Lite, a one-day rookie salary, an authentic customized Rays uniform, four pre-game field passes to watch batting practice, four game tickets in the first row directly behind the Rays dugout, an on-field meet & greet with Rays manager Joe Maddon, a Miller Lite beer fridge, a commemorative press release issued by the Rays, and the opportunity to throw out the first pitch prior to the game. The promotion generated a ton of publicity and amplified Miller Lite’s partnership with the team.

Another example of an effective promotion is Rangers7, the wildly successful Texas Rangers-Papa John’s campaign whereby fans receive 50% off their online order.  To take advantage of Rangers7, fans simply visit, place their order and enter the promo code “Rangers7” the day after the Rangers score seven or more runs in a game, win or lose.  Papa John’s receives a lot of attention in-stadium as the Rangers fans express their excitement when the team approaches seven runs.  And from a return on investment perspective, North Texas-area Papa John’s restaurants see a significant increase in sales the day after the Rangers score seven runs.

The Los Angeles Lakers’ promotion with Jack in the Box is another prime example of a successful program. The promotion works like this:  If the Lakers win and hold their opponent under 100 points, every fan in attendance at Staples Center receives a coupon for two free tacos at Jack in the Box.

Ultimately a promotion should be judged by the following criteria: Does it engage fans, does it provide the sponsor with added exposure, is it measurable and does it deliver a return on investment.  The Lakers-Jack in the Box taco promotion does all the above.


What makes this promotion fun and effective is that fans at the game chant “We want tacos!” if a win and keeping the opponent under 100 appears imminent.  The promotion received a shot in the arm with the advent of social media.  Excited fans are quick to take to their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts to post pictures of the Jack in the Box scoreboard graphic and/or actual taco coupon.


The promotion also delivers added exposure during the broadcast of the games since fans watching on TV or listening on the radio can hear the fans chanting.  As a result the broadcast announcers will often mention the promotion.  Laker players and coaches have also mentioned the promotion during post-game interviews.  The promotion took on the added benefit when the makers of NBA 2K embedded the “We want tacos!” chant in their popular video game.


To further evaluate the promotion, the Lakers commissioned Turnkey Intelligence to conduct a consumer research project to measure changes in consumer attitudes, perceptions and behavior related to team sponsors.  Overall, results from the study found that fans ranked Jack in the Box No. 1 overall in in-game promotions awareness and that Jack in the Box was the second-leading Lakers sponsor in top of mind awareness.


Fan engagement, added exposure and measurable results are great but what does this promotion mean to Jack in the Box’s bottom line?  Is Jack in the Box getting a return on its investment?  Of the 442,000 total coupons distributed during the 2009-10 season, a whopping 42 percent were redeemed.

So when it comes to promotions, the challenge is to develop and implement a distinctive program that will leave a lasting impression with the team’s fans.  If done correctly, it can reap many benefits and elevate the status of a team sponsor.


Blain Skinner recently completed his 33rd season with the Los Angeles Lakers.  He is the team’s Executive Director of Corporate Partnerships. Skinner is responsible for sponsorship sales that include broadcast, signage, new media, print, merchandising, promotional, public and community relations elements.

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