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Volume 21 No. 34
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Verizon stakes out space on WNBA jerseys

The WNBA has put the finishing touches on its marquee partnership deal with Verizon that will put the company’s logo on the front of 10 of the league’s 12 team jerseys this season.

The deal, the largest sponsorship by dollar value in the WNBA, also makes Verizon the league’s presenting partner of the tipoff to the WNBA’s 20th season, which begins May 14. That activation (WNBA Tip-Off presented by Verizon) extends across a nine-day period that covers each team’s home opener.

Verizon will be the presenting partner of the league’s playoffs and the WNBA Finals, as well, and it will be title partner of the WNBA All-Star Game starting in 2017.

There is no WNBA All-Star Game this year because of the Summer Olympics.

Verizon is replacing Boost Mobile as the WNBA’s marquee partner. Boost Mobile is a division of Sprint, which did not renew its four-year, $222 million deal with the NBA when it expired last year. Verizon assumed those rights in the wireless service provider category, announcing a multiyear deal in November, with that sponsorship extending through all league assets: the NBA, WNBA and D-League.

Details of the WNBA activation points were not available until now.

Other NBA sponsors that also have WNBA rights include Pepsi, Kaiser Permanente and Harman.

“This is huge for our 20th season,” said WNBA President Lisa Borders. “We represent a key demographic for Verizon and we have one of the most diverse leagues anywhere. As Verizon accelerates their own growth, it mirrors the WNBA in strengthening and growing our league.”

Among other deal points for Verizon, it will be a partner of the WNBA draft and the WNBA Inspiring Women Luncheon, an event the league touts as an occasion to recognize “individuals who have blazed new paths on the court, in the boardroom and in the community.” State Farm Insurance is the lead, presenting partner of the league’s draft.

The wireless carrier also will be part of a platform called the WNBA Top 20 Moments presented by Verizon that will highlight some of the league’s most memorable moments throughout its history as part of a seasonlong campaign. Details on that execution are still being finalized.

Boost’s deal with the WNBA ended when Sprint’s NBA sponsorship expired.
Photo by: NBAE / GETTY IMAGES
In addition, the deal includes a media buy from Verizon on WNBA TV broadcasts, courtside signage and promotion on WNBA.com. The company’s media spend is part of its overall deal with the NBA.

But Verizon, unlike Boost Mobile, will not sponsor the league’s seasonlong player performance awards (such as the player of the week and the player of the month awards), or its postseason awards (which include the league MVP award). Boost Mobile sponsored the awards in 2012, with Samsung taking over the sponsorship in 2014, 2015 and again for 2016. There was no presenting partner for the awards in 2013.

Verizon last year launched its Go90 over-the-top, mobile-first product. The league has not yet determined if any WNBA content will be offered as part of the marquee deal.

“It is something we are discussing,” said Kerry Tatlock, senior vice president of global marketing partnerships for the NBA. “It makes the most sense if you are going to get the most out of the partnership.”

The Verizon jersey advertising will not prevent teams from signing, or continuing, their own local deals that also feature uniform marks. Currently, nine of the league’s 12 teams have local jersey patch deals. Placement of the Verizon logo will be below the player numbers on the front of the 10 team jerseys. Team marquee partner logos are above the numbers.

The Verizon logo will not appear on the jerseys of the San Antonio Stars, who play in the AT&T Center, or the Connecticut Sun, who has Frontier Communications as its team marquee partner.