By Barry Janoff
September 21, 2016: Led by Gatorade, Michelob Ultra, Anheuser-Busch and MarathonFoto, sponsorship spend on such endurance sports as marathons, cross-country cycling, mountain climbing, triathlons and obstacle competitions is expected to hit a record $124.6 million in 2016, a 4.9% increase over 2015 and just behind the 5% increase predicted for overall sports sponsorship spending this year.
The spend is up from $118.8 million in 2015 and more than $20 million over the spend just four years ago, according to research and consulting firm IEG, Chicago.
PepsiCo is the most active company in the sports endurance genre, with 46% of properties in the non-alcoholic beverage category reporting a sponsorship with its brands, topped by Gatorade, with 43% of properties isotonic beverage category reporting a deal with the brand.
However, Gatroade’s figure is down from 59% in 2015 as rival sports beverage, water and other non-alcoholic brands move into the endurance sports space, according to IEG’s Endurance Sports Sponsorship Report.
Previous sponsorship spend in the category was $113.6 million in 2014, $108.4 million in 2013, $102.1 million in 2012 and $95.7 million in 2011.
By comparison, worldwide sponsorship spend on golf is expected to top a record $1.82 billion this year, global sponsorship spend on soccer will hit a record $60.2 billion, worldwide sponsorship spend in motorsports topped $5.3 billion last year and tennis is projected to hit $801 million in 2016, per IEG.
NFL sponsorship spend was $1.2 billion last season, the NBA hit $799 million, MLB reached $778 million and the NHL was at $477 million.
The most active brands in the category behind Gatorade are Michelob Ultra (31% of properties in the alcoholic-beverage space report an alliance with the beer), Iconic Group’s MarathonFoto (24%), FMG (21%), TransAmerica (17%), PowerBar (17%), Clif Bar (16%), Glukos (16%), UPS (16%) and Toyota (16%).
Behind PepsiCo, the most active companies in endurance sports are Anheuser-Busch (31%), MarathonFoto (24%), Clif Bar (22%), Nestle (22%), Fond Memories Graphics (21%), AEGON (18%), Starwood Hotels (18%) and Toyota (17%).
Sponsorship spend in the category is up from $118.8 million in 2015, $113.6 million in 2014, $108.4 million in 2013, $102.1 million in 2012 and $95.7 million in 2011.
Earlier this year, Gatorade, which backs such mainstream sports stars as Cam Newton, Bryce Harper, Serena Williams, JJ Watt, Paul George and Elena Delle Donne, signed eight-time Ironman champion Luke McKenzie, who joined pro triathlete Beth Gerdes on the brand’s roster of endurance athletes.
As part of their sponsorship, Gatorade said they would “work closely with the Gatorade Sports Science Institute throughout the season to hone in on (their) training and race-day nutrition.” They also have been training and competing using the full Gatorade Endurance product portfolio, with Gerdes featured in a “Win From Within” spot (pictured above) as part of the brand’s marketing campaign.
As part of its Endurance line, Gatorade also has such products as Carb Energy Chews, Thirst Quench Powder and Gatorlytes electrolyte powder blend.
MarathonFoto — with the marketing tag line, “What lasts longer than a marathon” Great race memories” — said it has alliances with more than 350 races around the world this year, including the Virgin Money London Marathon, TCS New York City Marathon, Boston Marathon and the Skechers Performance Los Angeles Marathon.
MarathonFoto said that includes 1,200 photographers on-hand at these events, taking more than 34 million images.
The National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board (Built With Chocolate Milk) fell out of the Top Ten among most active companies and brands, according to the Endurance Sports Sponsorship Report.
The most active categories in endurance sports are sports apparel & equipment (6.3 times more likely to sponsor endurance sports than the average all sponsors, non-alcoholic beverages (4.4), sports nutrition (3.3), food (3), medical (2.9), insurance (2.9), alcoholic beverages (2.3), photo supplies (2) and hotels & resorts (1.8).