MLB expands 2022 partnerships


Some of the best moments of the 2022 Major League Baseball season have already played out on Apple TV+, from Max Scherzer’s fiery return to Nationals Park to Jeremy Peña bursting out from Carlos Correa’s shadow in Houston to a landmark Jackie Robinson Day in Los Angeles, and more. Allowing those moments to unfold in front of a national audience, the immediate benefits of MLB and Apple’s new partnership are abundantly clear. But it’s only one of the many innovative ways the league and its partners are working together to grow the game like never before.

MLB and its partners are doing more than ever to engage fans in 2022, the league working with a record 42 national partners to bring fun, unique and special experiences to baseball lovers everywhere.

Six of those partners are new this season: Adobe, Capital One, Corona, Mattress Firm, Cue Health and Dairy Queen have all joined MLB’s sponsorship family, joining longtime members like Anheuser-Busch and Mastercard, whose names have been synonymous with MLB for years.

“We try to leverage our MLB relationship in a variety of ways,” Michael Goldstein, head of North American sponsorships of Mastercard, said. “Whether it’s philanthropy like Stand Up to Cancer, technology and business priorities, or whether it’s consumer-facing, baseball allows us to hit on all those points.”

There is a long history of MLB’s key partners focusing on fans, but an increased interest this year under MLB chief revenue officer Noah Garden’s direction. Corona, for example, began its new partnership by giving away free Opening Day tickets to a fan on Twitter. As a brand that proudly celebrates its Mexican heritage, Corona is a natural fit to sponsor the game of béisbol, a sport beloved by the Hispanic community.

“As the Official Cerveza of Major League Baseball, we’re excited to bring the energy, vibrancy and flavor of the Corona brand to America’s national pastime,” said Ryan Anderson, Corona’s director of brand marketing. “We’re proud to celebrate our shared heritage, MLB’s star players and the sport’s fans by bringing the fine life to ballparks across the country this season, and for seasons to come.”

Here are a few other examples of big brands leaning in to maximize the fan experience in 2022:

Adobe, in close collaboration with MLB, developed baseball poster themed templates for its popular Adobe Creative Cloud so anyone could create their own baseball posted to celebrate Opening Day and the start of a new season.

Capital One is bringing customers access to new and exclusive benefits, like tickets to special events such as All-Star Week, the MLB Postseason and the World Series presented by Capital One. Capital One rewards cardholders are able to redeem their rewards for tickets to MLB games for all 30 teams, as well as one-of-a-kind VIP experiences.

Mattress Firm, which partnered with MLB for the first time at last year’s Field of Dreams Game, has focused its new sponsorship around unique baseball experiences to offer fans through one-of-a-kind sweepstakes. As part of the deal, the brands will launch a Season of Dreams Sweepstakes that will unlock one-of-a-kind VIP experiences for fans at three critical junctures of the season — Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day.

Dairy Queen partnered with MLB All-Stars Tim Anderson, Cody Bellinger, Bryce Harper and Fernando Tatis Jr., and is also leveraging MLB in retail marketing and popular DQ® restaurant offerings: new Signature StackburgersTM and the Summer Blizzard® Treat menu. To lead off the partnership, DQ and MLB gave away autographed items from each of its All-Star ambassadors via @MLB on Twitter. MLB is the first sports league partnership for Daily Queen.

“DQ has a lot of shared values with baseball. We’re all about fun, family and summertime, and of course, so is baseball,” said Becky Felling, vice president of marketing communications at Dairy Queen. “Baseball has also been a part of our heritage for a very long time. Nearly everyone has experienced a youth baseball [team] on the patio of a Dairy Queen. It doesn’t matter if the team won or lost, everyone loves to celebrate at Dairy Queen.”

MLB is also doing more than ever to reach fans internationally, preparing for a record slate of international play through 2026, including events in Asia, Europe and Latin America. Domestically, special events like the Field of Dreams Game and the Little League Classic have created new opportunities for partners to focus on reaching diverse audiences through events only baseball can provide. The league is also prioritizing strategic growth with standing partners to continue expanding in newer spaces like cryptocurrency, gambling, streaming and more, all with an eye toward broadening the fan experience.

“We sell more tickets than the other three leagues combined,” Garden said. “And so it’s more important to us than any other league, that we get people through our turnstiles. And what we found is, historically, when you go to a game, you just become a better fan. That’s where you make, probably the first place we all make, our connection to the game.”

Garden knows first-hand how indelible those initial connections can be. He was 6 or 7 years old when his father took him to Shea Stadium for his first Mets game, in the late ’70s. The plan, he remembers, was to meet Ed Kranepool. But that never happened. The game got rained out. Instead, Garden spent the afternoon running around a stadium restaurant with other children, tripping at one point and breaking his leg. He’s never shaken the memory.

“As you can imagine, that stuck with me,” he laughed. “I think that’s the thing people sometimes lose sight of: The full experience. When you go to a game, you have an amazing product on the field, you’ve got amenities off the field, and there are lots of different ways to enjoy your time spent at the ballpark. My first one never even included the game, and it certainly had a lasting impression on me.”



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