Some say sports is the true American religion. And anyone who's seen the intense praying of fans at a close Red Sox game would agree. So for businesses who want to tap into the psyche of potential customers there is a variety of ways to take advantage, including sponsorships, ads, stadium naming rights and more.
In January, AdvisorOne looked at how New York Life has used sports to enhance its business. Today, we look at Prudential. Fans would have a hard time not associating a “piece of the rock” with their favorite sports, from Major League Baseball to the NFL to golf, soccer and tennis, among others.
Prudential says it sees a variety of benefits from its association with athletics. “From a broadcast perspective, audiences typically do not DVR sports programs,” said Anna Papadopoulos, vice president of integrated marketing services for Prudential Advertising, in an interview with AdvisorOne. “They want to watch them live, which decreases the likelihood that our advertising will be skipped. In addition, sports allow for more in-game integration.”
That integration offers more opportunity to engage TV viewers. “For example,” she says, “for our local spots within the PGA tournament, CBS created 'Bring Your Challenges' vignettes using Peter Kostis, the CBS on-course golf instructor and commentator.” In the vignettes, Kostis demonstrates challenging golf shots.
Sports give Prudential the chance to connect with those in the key demographic that is devoted to the programming. “Sports also have a higher composition of our target audience—age 35 to 64, with household income over $100,000—and tend to drive higher brand awareness, favorability and recall of sponsors,” Papadopoulos says. “And we tend to associate with sports that don't have a slew of sponsors, therefore, fans tend to remember Prudential.”
Prudential doesn’t stop at ads and stadium signage to further its brand. It also provides tickets and special access to athletes for young people.
And its most prominent foray into sports might be its 20-year naming rights deal for the Prudential Center, the arena that the New Jersey Devils call home in Newark, N.J. With the Devils routinely making the NHL playoffs, the company gets extra airtime on national broadcasts.
Here, then, are seven of Prudential’s big sponsorships in the sporting world:
Prudential’s first foray into a sports tie-in was its sponsorship of “NBA at the Half” during telecasts in the 1980s on NBC. Since then, the company has followed the bouncing ball to sponsor Rutgers, Seton Hall and NCAA basketball. In addition, the financial services giant adds its name to New York Knicks radio broadcasts.
It’s no surprise that Prudential sponsors Rutgers and Seton Hall, since both are in the company’s home state of New Jersey. In fact, the support of the schools is among the longest running corporate sponsorships that Prudential is involved in. The Seton Hall deal is for basketball. At Rutgers, Prudential is involved in a range of sports. The deals include campus and in-venue signage placements, print program ads, TV and radio broadcast elements as well as game day mentions.
For NCAA basketball as whole, the financial services firm had a presence last season on regular-season basketball broadcasts with ESPN, ABC and CBS, and placed signage at courtside for the first time. The signage deal began in January and gave Prudential a courtside presence at 18 schools and during seven conference tournaments leading into the NCAA tournament.
Prudential likes to sponsor the local New York teams, and the Mets and Yankees both benefit from the company’s sponsorship of radio broadcasts. Its commitment extends to the minor-league Newark Bears. And then there’s its association with the mother ship, Major League Baseball.
During TV broadcasts of 10 teams—the Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Florida Marlins, Los Angeles Angels, Oakland A’s, Philadelphia Phillies, San Diego Padres, St. Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays—Prudential’s signage behind home plate appears for a half inning every game. Prudential also advertises on mlb.com and has a co-branded presence with MLB on iPad applications and mobile devices.
Watch the pros, be they men or women, and you are likely to see iconic Rock of Gibraltar logo. Prudential sponsors the LPGA on the Golf Channel. In fact, it is the financial services partner of the tour. On-course signage at all events and a presence on LPGA.com are part of the deal.
On the men’s tour, Prudential sponsors the U.S. Open as well as two players, Loren Roberts and Mike Reid. Roberts, a pro golfer since 1980, has 16 victories, including three majors, the U.S. Open among them. Reid turned pro in 1976 and has five victories. His best effort in a major was at the 1989 PGA Championship when he finished in a tie for second. He has finished 6th at both the Masters and the U.S. Open.
As a sponsor of the Family Circle Cup of women’s tennis tour, Prudential has joined with the title sponsor to offer fans some perks. The Racquet and Serve ticket program offers ticket upgrades and a ticket exchange. Even more impressive is the Racquet Rally, which collects used equipment and distributes it to kids in need. In addition, Prudential sponsors the U.S. Open.
5. Figure Skating
Of all the sports of the Winter Olympics, figure skating seems to have twirled its way to the top of the popularity list. In fact, it’s become one of the most watched sports in the world. And Prudential has tapped into that popularity by sponsoring the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
The New York Red Bulls is another team close to Prudential’s Newark headquarters that benefits from the sports spending by the company. Despite the Empire State reference in the name, the Major League Soccer team plays its games across the Hudson River in Harrison, N.J. As a partner with the team, Prudential places ads in Red Bull Arena and in the team’s publications.
The NFL is the king of all sports in the U.S., and fans can’t get enough. Even the annual draft of college players has become a big business. Prudential has joined the show, which lasts three days, by buying ads on ESPN and the NFL Network.
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