STAMFORD, Conn., Dec. 16, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, SponsorUnited, the leading data platform for sports and entertainment, released its annual MLB marketing and partnerships report, which details trends in sponsorships and related spending from the MLB's 2021 season. So, what did sponsors want from Major League Baseball this year?
Technology, Financial and Auto were the year's most-searched categories. FinTech was the most searched subcategory, followed by Tools & Equipment and On-Demand Delivery.
Brands including FTX, Coinbase, Crypto.com, Therabody and Dunkin were the year's most-searched across MLB.
High Growth Categories & Brands
Food Products, Alcohol, Construction, Apparel and Hotel/Leisure categories saw the largest increase in deals compared to 2020. However, only five categories saw a YOY increase of over 100%: Food Products, Apparel & Accessories, Leisure & Recreation and Manufacturing. A majority of the food industry's success was driven by the Snacks & Candy sector.
Although Alcohol brands held the highest volume of sponsorship deals, Food brands were the most prevalent across MLB sponsorships this season with over 180 brands partnering across the league. That number tops Construction & Industrial (138) and Healthcare (126). Super Pretzel, Lay's, Melissa's Produce, Goya and Nathan's were the most active food brands throughout stadiums in 2021.
Among brands entering the MLB this season, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar made the biggest impact, while Therabody and BBQ Guys followed. Of brands who expanded their sponsorship portfolio the most, Lysol was the highest growing non-apparel brand. New Era, Budweiser and Coca-Cola led all brands in Entertainment/Game-related Sponsored Content.
This season, each MLB team collaborated with an average of 320 brands, which includes 92 in-venue sponsors and 89 TV advertisers. The Cincinnati Reds, Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees topped the charts with the most partners. The Toronto Blue Jays, Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Dodgers had the most exclusive partnerships this year.
In general, it was a growth year for most teams. Half of all teams added at least 30 sponsors and 67% saw an increase in TV ads.
Nearly 80 brands entered the space of Virtual/Projected Mound or Sideline Signage this past season; ¼ were Auto brands. In comparison, only 60 brands bought Physical Mound or Sideline Signage. The Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds and Detroit Tigers had the widest variety of brands on their home field.
Trends in Spending
The Financial and Beverage categories were the largest spenders this year as SponsorUnited estimated more than $150M each in total sponsorship revenue. Automotive brands re-ignited marketing efforts to place the category in the Top 5 along with Insurance and Healthcare providers.
According to SponsorUnited data, the Cincinatti Reds, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets, Arizona Diamondbacks and Minnesota Twins expanded their portfolios the most, selling more deals in 2021 than 2020. The most intriguing outlier of the season was the Toronto Blue Jays, which became the second highest grossing MLB team in total brand deals while playing in three different stadiums (two different countries).
Trends in Endorsements
Among athletes, Aaron Judge held the largest number of endorsements this year. Young stars, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Fernando Tatis Jr. were right behind the Yankees slugger, while Clayton Kershaw, Tim Anderson and Mike Trout rounded out the top five most branded athletes. The Top 10 most followed MLB players, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper are the only athletes to also land in the Top 10 for brand endorsement deals.
This year, we saw a move back to the ballpark, with a 50% increase in brands buying sponsorships year over year, and more than 750 brands with in-person activations. We saw 400% growth in physical content-related assets compared to last year and a 33% brand lift for interior TV-visible signage as compared to 2019.
For a deeper look, and to access many other insights, download the free MLB 2021 Marketing & Partnerships report at SponsorUnited.com.
Launched in 2018, SponsorUnited is the market leader in sponsorship technology. The platform finds, tracks, measures, reports and facilitates all sports and entertainment partnership deals. Its comprehensive database and on-demand research team keeps sponsorship buyers and sellers up to date with the latest news, real-time metrics, insights, estimated spending, contact information and brand intelligence to enable properties, brands and advertisers to reach their partnership goals.
This report was compiled using SponsorUnited's proprietary platform data from February 1, 2021 through October 31, 2021.
*Team Social Accounts Compiled from Team-Controlled Instagram, Facebook and Twitter Accounts and Social Activity.
Media Contact: Lisa Brown, [email protected]