Auto racing is the undisputed king of sports when it comes to squeezing advertising into every square inch. As far as dogged determination to expand marketing opportunities, though, the NFL deserves props. The San Francisco 49ers have confirmed that with the announcement of their latest official partner.
The NFL took a big step forward in sponsorships
The sports industry has moved well beyond is bread and butter categories, although, oddly, official bread or official butter sponsors are hard to come by at a national level. There’s money to be made, so opportunities don’t end with official cars, trucks, and tires.
The NFL was thinking unconventionally as long ago as 1983 when Gatorade became the official sports nutrition drink in a money-making opportunity that didn’t intrude on its long-standing beer or soft drinks deals. Just last year, the NFL finally dipped a toe into the previously taboo world of gambling by bringing Caesars aboard as its official casino.
With COVID-19 creating the likelihood of empty or half-filled stadiums this fall, the league’s teams are looking at blocking off rows of seats within the prime viewing area on TV to increase advertising opportunities. All that would be left after that is going the NASCAR route and placing sponsor ads on uniforms and helmets.
Quirky advertising tie-ins have always existed
Sports fans apparently can’t get enough of college football games pairing teams with 6-6 records against each other, which is how we came to have a Poulan Weed-Eater Independence Bowl. The upcoming season’s sponsorship tie-ins include the Tropical Smoothie Café Frisco Bowl, the Duke’s Mayo Bowl, and the FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl.
Those are local affiliations rather than national sponsorships, but the NCAA does have some of those, too. For instance, Werner has provided the official ladder of the NCAA for 11 years despite the fact that there only two weekends a year when Division I basketball teams need a boost to cut down the nets.
NFL teams also have official sponsorships separate from league-wide deals. For instance, the Buffalo Bills – who once had an official snow plow – currently have an official bar-b-que, an official pizza, an official finger food (pizza logs), an official ice cream, and, naturally, an official chicken wing. Interestingly, the restaurant with the chicken wings designation is a rival of the Anchor Bar, originator of what’s become a national delicacy.
The San Francisco 49ers have gone where no man has gone before
The San Francisco 49ers scored a coup of sorts in 2018 by apparently becoming the first pro team creating an “official smile” sponsorship category, bringing aboard Invisalign, which specializes in clear aligner orthodontia.
And, just when you thought 2020 had given us enough I-never-thought-I’d-live-to-see-the-day moments, the Super Bowl LIV runners-up are innovating again. The 49ers announced on June 23 that they have become the first NFL organization to sign an official manscaping partner. The deal is with manufacturer Manscaped, which bills itself as “the leader in male below-the-waist grooming and hygiene.”
The deal is described as a multi-year partnership.
“Anybody who followed our thrilling run to the Super Bowl last year knows that the 49ers are comfortable with close shaves so Manscaped will be a welcome addition to the 49ers family,” Kevin Hilton, the 49ers’ VP of corporate partnerships, said in a statement. “Manscaped is changing the game of personal hygiene for men everywhere, and we are proud to partner together to highlight their brand with relevant connections to our fanbase.”
Manscaped, founded in 2017 and based in San Diego, had also recently announced a sponsorship with the UFC.