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Volume 25 No. 27

Marketing and Sponsorship

MLB next season will debut a new batting practice and Spring Training cap developed in collaboration with longtime partner New Era. The new polyester ProLight 59Fifty caps are said to be 26% lighter than the prior Diamond Era batting practice and Spring Training caps used from '13-17 while still maintaining structure, and feature beveled rubber badge logos heat-sealed on the caps as opposed to traditional embroidered ones. MLB and New Era called the ProLight 59Fifty the lightest-ever hat to be used on field. With the hat switch, eight teams -- including the Cardinals, Phillies, Rockies and Royals -- will debut new alternate logo designs. Eight other clubs, including the Yankees and Nationals, will have new color combinations. “We worked tirelessly with our internal product management team and consulted with a handful of MLB players and club equipment managers to create a cap that performs better on the field of play,” said New Era Baseball Business Unit Dir Tony DeSimone. MLB will continue to use New Era’s regular 59Fifty model for its official on-field caps for in-game play during the regular season and postseason.

The 76ers have signed their first international sponsor with Four’N Twenty, an Australia-based company that produces beef pies. The deal also is Four’N Twenty’s first sponsorship of a U.S. pro sports team. The current 76ers roster features Australia-born G Ben Simmons, and coach Brett Brown is the former coach of Australian national team. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but activation includes the team holding its first Australian Heritage Night, presented by Four’N Twenty in January. Other activation also includes the Four’N Twenty beef pies sold at concession stands in Wells Fargo Center and the company also will have digital content featured on Sixers.com (John Lombardo, Staff Writer). In Melbourne, Peter Rolfe notes Four'N Twenty will "use Simmons' star status ... to try and crack" the U.S. market. The company's product was "advertised at 76ers home games for the first time" this past weekend. Company CEO Paul Hitchcock said that the three-year deal with the team was "just a first step" in expanding the brand. Meanwhile, Brown said that he would "like to bring the team to Melbourne to play an NBA game." He indicated that Simmons "playing in the first NBA match on Australian soil would be a win for Melbourne" (Melbourne HERALD SUN, 11/21).

Churchill Downs Inc. has signed a five-year deal with Coca-Cola that makes it the "official and exclusive soft drink of the Kentucky Derby," according to Liz Mullen of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. Coca-Cola "replaces Pepsi, which had a deal" with the racetrack going back to '99. Coca-Cola "will produce" special commemorative bottles for the 144th running of the Derby next May. In addition to pouring rights, Coca-Cola is "planning promotions and activations during Derby Week." CDI VP/Partnerships Kristin Warfield said, "We had a wonderful partnership with Pepsi. It’s just sometimes change is somewhere you need to go. And we found a fantastic partner in Coca-Cola" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 11/20 issue).

During the ’17 MLB season, Papa John’s saw the most value among brands with baseball-focused social media campaigns, according to a season-long analysis of data by social media measurement firm MVPindex. Among brand campaigns during the ’17 season, Papa John’s, an official league sponsor, saw $10.4M in estimated media value for 631 posts on social media. That value came from 4.1 million engagements for an estimated 476.3 million impressions. Two other league sponsors -- Esurance and T-Mobile -- ranked second and third, respectively. Three team-focused brand campaigns ranked in the top 10 for the season. Majestic’s effort for the Blue Jays ranked No. 4 overall with an estimated value of $3.5M. SunTrust ranked No. 7 overall in its effort with the Braves during the inaugural season of SunTrust Park. The highest-ranking player-focused brand effort was with Blue Jays P Marcus Stroman and Nike, as 71 posts related to Stroman saw a value of $1.1M (No. 16 overall). By comparison, Under Armour’s 20 posts around Nationals RF Bryce Harper ranked No. 25 with a value of $627,722.

RK
ENTITY
BRAND
POSTS
ENGAGEMENTS
IMPRESSIONS
ESTIMATED
VALUE
1
MLB
Papa John's*
631
4,139,530
476,256,819
$10,359,883
2
MLB
Esurance*
304
4,282,580
391,880,941
$8,525,039
3
MLB
T-Mobile*
256
3,596,132
301,829,982
$6,574,520
4
Blue Jays
Majestic
513
2,384,267
184,078,393
$3,485,413
5
MLB
MasterCard*
101
1,220,912
109,508,985
$2,385,609
6
MLB
Topps*
162
586,056
103,144,837
$2,243,311
7
Braves
SunTrust
308
875,843
94,447,972
$1,695,351
8
MLB
Nike*
38
1,174,255
71,724,092
$1,561,690
9
Yankees
AT&T
81
523,748
69,292,748
$1,428,885
10
MLB
GM*
56
692,149
64,654,329
$1,406,929
NOTE: * = Official MLB league sponsor or licensee.

READY PLAYER ONE: In terms of active big leaguers, Harper and Cubs 2B Javier Baez had the most reach, engagement and conversation around social media posts. Angels CF Mike Trout ranked No. 3, while Stroman was No. 4 and Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo came in at No. 5. Trout has a lead among active MLBers on Instagram with 1.4 million, while Mariners 2B Robinson Cano has a big lead in Facebook followers. Cano ranked No. 1 in this overall category toward the end of last season. Trout also leads on Twitter with around 2.4 million followers.

RK
PLAYER
INDEX
TWITTER
FACEBOOK
INSTAGRAM
TOTAL
FOLLOWERS
t1
Cubs 2B
Javier Baez
0.992
356,914
305,470
824,620
1,487,004
t1
Nationals RF
Bryce Harper
0.992
875,531
407,202
1,293,887
2,576,620
3
Angels CF
Mike Trout
0.990
2,385,424
465,789
1,374,582
4,225,795
4
Blue Jays P
Marcus Stroman
0.988
430,837
106,165
498,096
1,035,098
5
Cubs 1B
Anthony Rizzo
0.987
750,872
n/a
746,545
1,497,417

POST PLAYERS: Instagram was the platform of choice for the top player posts on social media, taking 93 of the top 100 spots. But it was a Twitter post from Pirates P Trevor Williams early last month that took the No. 1 spot in terms. Williams’ post about high-fiving his son from Oct. 6 ranked higher than three Instagram posts from Yankees RF Aaron Judge (at Nos. 2-4). Rounding out the top five was a post from Rizzo from June announcing his engagement. Meanwhile, the Dodgers and Yankees dominated the most-popular team posts, with the two teams combining for the top 16 team posts across Instagram and Facebook. The top team post for the season was the Yankees on Facebook on July 11 congratulating Judge on winning the Home Run Derby.

POST
DATE
PLATFORM
PLAYER
(POST LINKED)
ENGAGEMENTS
LIKES
SHARES
COMMENTS
10/6
Twitter
449,526
354,812
94,194
520
10/12
Instagram
215,517
211,276
n/a
4,241
10/24
Instagram
177,798
174,486
n/a
3,312
9/24
Instagram
161,278
158,398
n/a
2,880
6/2
Instagram
144,952
141,381
n/a
3,571
POST
DATE
PLATFORM
TEAM
(POST LINKED)
ENGAGEMENTS
LIKES
SHARES
COMMENTS
7/11
Facebook
227,284
166,048
57,843
3,393
10/20
Facebook
223,945
151,616
68,997
3,332
9/26
Facebook
223,418
152,174
64,327
6,917
10/20
Instagram
207,907
204,156
n/a
3,751
10/12
Facebook
190,814
126,690
60,405
3,719