SBD/November 13, 2017/Marketing and Sponsorship

Hornets Become 19th NBA Team With Jersey Patch, Signing Deal With LendingTree

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The Hornets have signed a jersey patch deal with online loan marketplace LendingTree, becoming the 19th NBA team to sign a jersey patch agreement. Financial terms were not disclosed. The three-year deal is effective immediately, with Charlotte-based LendingTree’s logo to appear on the team jerseys beginning Wednesday against the Cavaliers in a nationally televised home game on ESPN. LendingTree, a new Hornets sponsor, also becomes a founding partner of the team and its official loan shopping partner. Excel Sports Management represented the Hornets on the deal. LendingTree did not use an agency. The deal also includes LendingTree signage throughout Spectrum Center, entitlement of the new Hornets mobile app, ads on hornets.com and a media buy. LendingTree also becomes the title partner of the Hornets Hoops youth basketball program and will participate in other team-run community efforts. Hornets Exec VP and Chief Sales & Marketing Officer Pete Guelli said, "We were at the finishing line with a number of companies and we circled back in the local market in the past few months. They are a fast-growing company and one of the best direct marketing companies in the world. The direct marketing space is an area where everyone is headed and that is where we want to go and get more sophisticated" (John Lombardo, Staff Writer). Hornets President & COO Fred Whitfield said, "There’s so much synergy and attributes that we share as two local organizations. The partnership is such a great fit in a lot of ways." In Charlotte, Peralta & Bonnell in a front-page piece cite sources as saying that "based on the size of the Charlotte market and the Hornets’ performance," the deal is "likely" worth $5-7M per year. The partnership comes at a "time of fast growth for LendingTree" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 11/13).

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WISH UPON A STAR: RECODE's Jason Del Rey noted Wish co-Founder & CEO Peter Szulczewski "knew there would be questions when his young e-commerce company" agreed to spend more than $30M to put its logo on the Lakers jersey over the next three years. Wish is the maker of one of the "most popular shopping apps in the world -- and is a likely IPO candidate in the next two years." But it is also "known in industry circles for its heavy spending on advertising and other marketing." Still, when it came to the decision to shell out a reported $36-42M for the Lakers deal, Szulczewski called it "basically a no-brainer." More than half of Wish’s business comes from "shoppers living outside of the U.S.," but L.A. still "accounts for more sales than any other metro area." But Szulczewski said, "It’s not like we have 50 percent penetration there. Maybe it’s double-digit (percent)." Del Rey noted China is where the "vast majority of businesses that sell on Wish are based." Szulczewski: "One thing people are overlooking is that we have 600,000 merchants and they were the loudest when we announced this" (RECODE.net, 11/12)
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