Last week, I found myself fiending for live basketball and stumbled upon the Seattle Storm taking on the Phoenix Mercury in a WNBA game. When I posted this on Twitter, someone hit me back and asked the following question: Who’s winning: Bing or Lifelock? At the time, I didn’t think much of it, but then it hit me – it’s only a matter of time before jersey sponsorships make their way to the NBA. And after yesterday, that day is closer than ever before.
On Monday, two NBA D-League franchises entered into landmark deals that will serve as a blueprint for future D-League team marketing partnerships. Leading the way was the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, who signed the very first deal with Lone Star National Bank, followed by the Erie BayHawks who partnered with the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM).
“It is very important to us and Commissioner Stern to keep our identity intact, but we are also excited to be able to strengthen our relationship with the bank,” said Vipers president Bert Garcia. “Lone Star [National Bank] has been with us since the beginning and they’ve always been a great supporter of Vipers basketball. It’s appropriate that, after a season in which we made so much history, that we continue the trend by becoming the first team to enter into such an agreement.”
“LECOM is such an asset to the Erie region and we’re proud to continue what is now a long-term partnership with the entire LECOM family,” said BayHawks president Matt Bresee. “The jersey sponsorship illustrates their commitment to the success of our team while providing LECOM with national exposure.”
Both of these multiyear marketing partnerships will launch the first season-long branded jersey sponsorships in D-League history. The deals are fully integrated with unique branding opportunities that will provide national exposure through an array of media and advertising elements, including prominent partner branding on team jerseys and other on-court apparel, in-arena signage, exposure on team websites, as well as joint activations on social media and e-marketing efforts.
Currently, four out of the 12 WNBA teams have branded jersey sponsorship deals (Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix and Seattle), and I’m sure other D-League teams are already speaking to potential partners as well. When will they make it all the way to NBA? Time will only tell. But believe this, the price will be astronomical.
For reference, last summer Manchester United announced a four-year jersey sponsorship deal with Chicago-based insurance broker Aon Corp. worth €80 million (or over $130 million).
What do you think?
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