Thursday, June 11, 2015

Brands Step Up for MiLB Sponsorship and Merchandise

Dunkin' Donuts is the latest big-league sponsor to step up to a marketing deal with a Minor League Baseball (MiLB) team. This week, it agreed to buy naming rights to a new 9,000-seat MiLB stadium being built in Hartford, CT for the Hartford Yard Goats. 

The VP of field marketing for Dunkin' Donuts says: "We didn't need sabermetrics to evaluate this opportunity. Simply put, baseball is known as America's greatest pastime ... now we're ready to say, 'Play ball, Hartford.'"

Sponsorships with MiLB can build brand awareness and image, strengthen associations with sports and family activities, enhance community relations, and open new cross-promotion opportunities. All kinds of businesses are doing business with MiLB, from banks and stores to toy companies and--yes, wine.

MiLB doesn't just attract big brands. Local businesses are also involved, for the exposure, the build-up of trust, and the positive associations. The Reading (PA) Fightin Phils have a hot dog vendor who's so popular that he gets his own bobblehead. When a Phil is walked, the scoreboard calls it a WaWa Walk (WaWa is a sponsor, get it?). The Indianapolis Indians have set out to consciously develop such a close integration with the game, to attract and retain solid sponsorships.

Anyone who has attended a MiLB game knows that the sale of hats and other merchandise is part of the experience, as well. Annual sales of MiLB merchandise throughout the US and Canada hit a new record high of $60.3 million in 2014. And the Indianapolis Indians are among the teams hitting a home run in merchandise sales.

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