Report: NFL A Major Player As Companies Spend More Money On Sports Sponsorships

By Barry Janoff, Executive Editor

May 26, 2011: If there was any question regarding the ultimate reason that the lockout between NFL owners and players will be resolved, that was answered in a new report on sponsorship spending among U.S. companies.

In 2009, the number of U.S. companies that spent $15 million or more on sponsorship deals was 66.

In 2010, that number rose to 77, led by beverage giants Pepsi and Coca-Cola, which spent upwards of $590 million combined, according to a new report from research and marketing firm IEG, Chicago.

Anheuser-Busch increased its sponsorship spending last year, moving past Nike into third place. The brewer's spend is expected to rise again in 2011, the first year of its alliance with the NFL.

Another sign of the power of the NFL is that fact that Verizon Communications. which signed a mega-deal with the league, replaced the NFL's former telecommunications partner, Sprint Nextel, at No. 11.

Papa John's, which also launched an alliance with the NFL, was one of 14 companies that were new to the list.

Super Bowl XLV this past February saw about a dozen automakers and/or car-related companies advertise during the broadcast on Fox. The resurgence of the industry also is reflected in the IEG report, where eight car companies and several auto-centric firms such as Bridgestone and Goodyear were on the list.

General Motors topped all car makers with an estimated $185-$190 million in spending.

According to the study, the top 20 sponsors remained the same from 2009, although there was some shuffling within the upper echelon. PepsiCo—with such brands as Pepsi, Gatorade, Mountain Dew, Aquafina, SoBe and Frito-Lay snacks—remained atop the list.

PepsiCo spent an estimated $335-$340 million on sponsorships in 2010, almost $100 million more than second place Coca-Cola, which spent an estimated $45-$250 million on sponsorship deals last year, per IEG.

However, Sprint only dropped to No. 14, "primarily [due] to its ongoing status as Nascar’s largest partner," according to IEG.

Concurrently, per the report, three companies that fell out of the overall rankings each did so because they dropped primary sponsorships of Nascar Sprint Cup Series teams: Black & Decker Corp., Brown-Forman Corp. and Kellogg Co.

Among companies that invest primarily or heavily in sports marketing and sponsorship alliances, Nike outspent rival adidas by about $80 million; U.S. Olympic Committee partner Procter & Gamble remained strong at No. 13; Under Armour was new to the list with an estimated spend of between $20-$25 million; Kia Motors, an official NBA partner with strong ties in hockey, motor sports and the LPGA, also joined Under Armour as a rookie in this report with an estimated spend of $15-$20 million.  

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. had one of the biggest gains among companies from 2009, moving up from No. 32 to No. 22 "due to its mega-deal with Madison Square Garden."

The 14 companies new to the 2010 list are: Aflac, Capital One Financial, 3M, Under Armour, Papa John’s, Delta Air Line, Kia Motors America, Kraft Foods, Goodyear, Subway Restaurants, Discover Financial Services, Cisco Systems and Sherwin-Williams.

According to IEG, the spending estimates given for the companies on the list "reflect amounts spent on sponsorship fees of U.S. properties and the portion of spending on international properties that is directed to the U.S. market."



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