Should Utah Hospitals Buy Sports Sponsorships?

3 Reasons for and Against Buying a Sports Sponsorship in Utah

Utah hospitals are always being pitched to be a sponsors of local sports teams. We’ve consulted with many healthcare companies on whether or not they should sign a sports sponsorship, and have aggregated our general recommendations for and against here.

3 Reasons For
A large percentage of your customers are fans Many years ago, we worked with a client that sells copier services to businesses. They had routinely invested almost their entire budget on a basketball sponsorship. A little research revealed that decision makers for small business copier services are predominantly 40 year-old, mostly female human resource employees. While they probably found a few of these women among the basketball fans, they were also paying for all of those people who would never even be in a position to buy their product.

Sports sponsorships are great at generating word-of-mouth According to word-of-mouth research expert Ed Keller, sports fans are two-thirds more likely than the average American to be what he calls Conversation Catalysts, meaning they engage in more brand-related conversations than the average person. Brands in the sports/recreation, travel, financial and automotive categories are most likely to get a lift through sports sponsorships.

There’s a relevant connection between your brand and the sports property This goes beyond the usual, “My hospital’s a winner so I want to associate it with a winning sports team” thinking, since you’re sunk if the team doesn’t win much that season. It’s not even a relevant connection to be a winner. You may be hoping for the halo effect, where positive features of the sports team are transferred to your own brand. This may happen, but you can’t force a connection that isn’t there.

3 Reasons Against
Sports sponsorships come at a premium Advertising with a sports team isn’t cheap. It never makes sense on the traditional cost-per-thousand (CPM) criteria. If you don’t invest heavily, all you’ll get is a logo on a $5 program guide. Because putting on a successful sports event with all of the associated overhead is expensive, that cost is passed along to you. And because broadcasters pay out a ton to get broadcast rights to a sports property, you can bet your TV and radio spots will put you in the poor house. But if it’s on strategy, it still can be a great investment.

Clutter A sporting event is meant to maximize as much profit as it can, and that usually means filling every piece of stadium real estate with a logo and every breath of air with a branded message. Your brand needs to extend beyond the relatively small population of a sporting event and stand out with a clear and uncluttered message. That’s often hard to do successfully.

You want to use your marketing budget to get tickets Let’s face it, the mix of male-dominated business leaders and male-dominated sports fans can result in an unholy fraternity of cronyism. Many of the sponsorships I’ve seen are more about stroking an ego or fulfilling one’s little-boy dreams of being “part of the team.”  If you want to go the games, buy some season tickets! Just don’t hijack your marketing budget so you can hang out with Gordon Hayward.

Most Attended Sporting Events in Utah:

Most Watched TV Sports Programs:

  • Super Bowl – 45.8% of all Utahns reported watching this in the past year
  • NFL Playoffs – 31.9%
  • Olympics – 40.2%
  • Utah Jazz – 24.0%
  • BYU Football – 20.7%
  • NBA Finals – 24.7%

Data Source: Scarborough Salt Lake City Feb14-Jan15 release