By Barry Janoff
June 13, 2016: Esurance, now in its second season as the official auto insurance partner for MLB, has extended its alliance with baseball by being the exclusive home and auto insurance partner of Minor League Baseball.
The alliance makes Esurance the only official national partner for both MLB and MiLB. It also includes official alliances with several MiLB clubs.
Terms of the multi-year pact were not disclosed.
“As Minor League Baseball continues to look forward and create unique platforms, a partnership with Esurance gives us yet another opportunity to connect with our millions of fans in a modern way,” David Wright, CMO and chief commercial officer for MiLB, said in a statement. "We are proud to have Esurance as the single brand currently aligning with MiLB and MLB.”
Other MiLB corporate partners include Barefoot Wine, Uncle Ray's (official potato chip), DeVry University (Official Education and Career Development Partner), John Deere (Preferred Sports Turf Equipment Supplier), OnDeck Capital and Sunrun (home solar energy).
The deal with Esurance, a division of Allstate, comes as MiLB said that the combined retail sales totals of all 160 teams set a Minor League Baseball record in 2015, topping $65.1 million.
That figure represents a 7.9% increase over 2014's total of $60.3 million, which had been the highest total recorded since MiLBs licensing program began in 1992.
According to MiLB, sales figures are based on total licensed merchandise sales from Jan. 1 - Dec. 31, 2015, and include the "160 teams in the domestic-based leagues that charge admission to their games."
MiLB did not list the teams according to retail sales but did name the Top 25 in alphabetical order (see below).
According to Sandie Hebert, MiLB's director of licensing, "Minor League Baseball team names and logos are quirky, fun and contemporary, but they are also incredible marketing tools for the clubs they represent. Each year, we see familiar logos on the Top 25 list, and some newcomers, showing both the longevity and modern appeal of our trademarks.
"It's interesting to see how clubs choose to brand their identities, and how that translates into merchandise sales," said Hebert.
The Biloxi (Miss.) Shuckers were one of just eight teams below the Triple-A level and the only Southern League club that made the list.
"Our merchandise continues to fly off the shelves and we ship it around the world," Kara Hayes, senior director-retail for the Shuckers, said in a statement. "The fact that we made the Top 25 and only played a half season at MGM Park in 2015 is a remarkable achievement."
The 16-team Pacific Coast League registered a league-record $13.36 million in retail sales in 2015, per PLC, an increase of 30% from 2014.
One of its teams, the Oklahoma City Dodgers, said its merchandise sales were six times the total sales from 2014, and the team's sales revenues in 2015 equaled those from 2010-14 combined.
"The Dodgers brand is one of the most iconic in sports, and we are proud that the Dodgers name now also represents our great city of Oklahoma City," Michael Byrnes, the team's president/GM, said in a statement. "The rebranding of our team (from the Redhawks following an ownership change) was passionately embraced and we are grateful to all of the fans who have welcomed Oklahoma City as part of the Dodgers family."
According to the team, the Los Angeles Dodgers' graphic design unit created the Oklahoma City Dodgers' look, incorporating several elements of the Los Angeles Dodgers' history, as well as the culture of Oklahoma City and Bricktown.
Some of the elements of the new brand — including the Dodgers script and the famous "shooting ball" — have been associated with the Dodgers since 1938. Oklahoma City's home jerseys mirror the current home jerseys of the Los Angeles Dodgers; the home OKC hat is styled after the old Brooklyn Dodgers' hats, according to the MiLB Dodgers.
MiLB said that online sales have also "played a significant role in the steady growth of league-wide merchandise sales," showing a 9.4% increase over 2014. Of the Top 25 teams, 23 have online stores using the MiLBStore.com platform, according to the league.
MilB's new Esurance deal will come with multi-media marketing and activation, anchored by an Esurance Call-Up Worthy effort.
The platform, which will live on MiLB.com, MiLB club Web sites and social media, "will celebrate that iconic moment in Minor League Baseball when a player is called up to Major League Baseball, highlighting their journey through shareable digital and social content such as virtual trading cards, video highlights and the Esurance Farm Report."
“Every player that progresses on his path through Minor League Baseball has a unique story, one that we look forward to telling through this partnership," said Wright.
San Francisco-based Esurance said it would use use MiLB players as Esurance brand ambassadors. Esurance currently uses Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants as a MLB brand spokesman in TV and other marketing.
Other elements of the pact include Esurance Rising Star Students, with support from MiLB charity partner Big Brothers Big Sisters of America; Esurance September Call-Ups, leading up to MLB's postseason; and the Esurance Home Field Advantage Award, recognizing the MiLB club with the highest percentage capacity in each of its 14 leagues.
“Our partnership with Minor League Baseball extends the fantastic experience we’ve had with the sport and its passionate fans, while introducing millions more to our brand and modern approach to home and auto insurance,” Alan Gellman, CMO for Esurance, said in a statement. “We’re proud to work with MiLB to modernize the fan experience as they follow baseball players throughout their career journey—from their first MiLB game to their call-up celebration.
"Through our partnership, we also have the opportunity to connect with local communities across the U.S. to recognize rising all-stars and hometown fans," said Gellman.
The Top 25 MiLB Teams Based on 2015 Retail Sales (in alphabetical order):
Albuquerque Isotopes, Biloxi Shuckers, Charlotte Knights, Columbus Clippers, Dayton Dragons, Durham Bulls, El Paso Chihuahuas, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Frisco RoughRiders, Indianapolis Indians, Lake Elsinore Storm, Lakewood BlueClaws, Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Louisville Bats, Nashville Sounds, Oklahoma City Dodgers, Pawtucket Red Sox, Reno Aces, Sacramento River Cats, Salt Lake Bees, San Antonio Missions, South Bend Cubs, Tacoma Rainiers, Toledo Mud Hens and Trenton Thunder.
Buster Posey Back To Catch Esurance, MLB Campaign
Back to Home Page