- Dec 4, 2009
For the MLB team marketers, sponsors and agency types gathered in Los Angeles, what was billed as a six-day All-Star “week” turned into a referendum on the 4-by-4-inch ad patches baseball is permitting its teams to sell next season for the first time. With only one uniform deal public — the San Diego Padres’ $9 million per year, four-year patch pact with Motorola — debate on both the value and pricing of MLB’s shiny new penny was second only to Los Angeles’ infinitely snarled traffic as the central concern.
“Patches were the topic of All-Star week; we’ve transitioned from crypto there,” laughed T-Mobile sponsorship chief Amy Azzi, 70 floors above downtown L.A. in the lobby of the Intercontinental, where most of MLB’s commercial affiliates were housed. “They’re an incredible opportunity for any brand that wants awareness, but we have a 10-year relationship with baseball, so it’s probably not us.”
T-Mobile, an MLB corporate patron since 2013, was using its title sponsorship of the Home Run Derby to push “Coverage Beyond,” offering in-flight connectivity and high-speed data in 200-plus countries for customers.
The buzz among the MLB marketing cognoscenti in L.A. was that the biggest deal yet has been struck and it’s one that will surely affect all the others. The Boston Red Sox and Mass Mutual have agreed on terms of a 10-year pact for around $17 million a year, with performance kickers for the team that could boost it to as much as $20 million. The Sox are close-mouthed on the deal, since it isn’t signed, and because rival financial services brand John Hancock is a decades-long Sox sponsor, including having its brand on the outfield wall at Fenway Park.
https://www.sportsbusinessjournal.com/Journal/Issues/2022/07/25/Upfront/MLB-jersey-patches.aspxIt would be a significant step up for Mass Mutual, which buys a large amount of sports media, and has a sponsorship portfolio including NHL league rights. While one Red Sox marketer called the deal a “rumor,” the rest of the industry is treating the team’s agreement as fait accompli, and adjusting prices accordingly.
“It’s a milestone for all of us trying to figure out price value in a brand-new market,” said a corporate sales executive at a Midwestern MLB team. “We’re still trying to figure it all out: if the Mets are out at $25 million, what are the Yankees out at?”