SBJ/March 25-31, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

USA Triathlon adds three to its sponsor list

Editor's note: This story is revised from the print edition.

USA Triathlon signed three new sponsorship deals, bringing on MetLife, TransAmerica and DJO Global, the medical device company behind Aircast, Bell-Horn and Fast Freeze.

The three, multiyear deals are silver-level sponsorships that are valued in the low six figures. They come on the heels of a three-year period when USA Triathlon tripled its sponsorship revenue to more than $2 million. The only sponsor lost during that period was Bank of America, which dropped an affinity card program.

“Historically, we’ve done a good job of capturing the endemic market,” said Chuck Menke, USA Triathlon’s director of marketing and communications. “My goal was to have fewer but more meaningful partnerships, and I think we’ve had success doing that. Madison Avenue is recognizing the value of our demo and the popularity of the sport.”

MetLife replaces Liberty Mutual as the organization’s official home and automotive insurance sponsor. The company will be able to send out mailers to USA Triathlon members as a result of the deal and also receive advertising in the organization’s magazine and on its website.

DJO Global is owned by Blackstone and plans to use its sponsorship to promote its line of knee braces, compression wear and recuperation equipment to triathletes.

TransAmerica will provide race cancellation insurance to athletes. If an athlete has to cancel their participation in a race because of injury, sickness, family emergency or other unforeseen events, the company will refund their entry fee. It also is developing a bike insurance program that it plans to offer in the future.

“We want to be engaged with the active lifestyle consumer segment and have an active and engaging dialogue and experience with them,” said Ed Walker, TransAmerica’s chief strategy officer, life and protection division. “We are looking at products that make sense for this segment and how we can better position for this segment. We don’t look at this as a single product or transactional opportunity but rather a way to build a relationship with the consumer as they move through life.”

In addition to boosting its sponsorship revenue, USA Triathlon increased membership by 75 percent from 2010 to 461,008. Membership dues provide the bulk of the organization’s revenue and totaled more than $7.4 million in 2011, the last year that its tax form is available.

Substantial growth has been driven by youth membership. As more adults compete in triathlons, more of their kids have begun to follow suit. Youth membership increased 35 percent last year to 62,345.

The organization hopes to add 50,000 members this year. It hopes initiatives like a series of membership recognition programs and personalized website experiences at usatriathlon.org help that effort.

“We’re a sport that’s difficult to do and difficult to be a member of, but we’re very inclusive and encouraging of first-timers,” said USA Triathlon CEO Rob Urbach. “Our single-sport brethren probably don’t share that same culture. Our sense of community is very powerful.”

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