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Volume 22 No. 12
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Digital, social dominate activations

From the MLB All-Star Game, Washington, D.C.

MLB’s 2015 regime change resulted in a new commissioner, new and elevated business-side execs and a new sponsorship philosophy, under which selling digital rights and other MLB media took precedence over IP rights.

One of the most intriguing examples of the “One Baseball” sponsorship philosophy has been in the beverage category, which has shifted from a 20-year Pepsi relationship that once included snacks and soft-drink exclusivity to a fractionalized category. Now, Utz holds salty snack rights, while beverage brands Gatorade, 5-hour Energy, Snapple and Coca-Cola share that category.

Snapple has increased the retail presence of its “Major League Tea.”

Even with 18 team deals, Coke was largely interested in team digital rights — unavailable without league rights. 

“It’s a lot about impressions, especially digital and social, so we can extend our ‘Share a Coke’ campaign during a time of peak consumption,” said Tiffany Stone, director of sports marketing for Coke, which had its oversized “Share Chair” on hand at MLB All-Star Fanfest for those seeking social media photo ops. “But we have driven volume, too, with things like our ‘World Series Champions’ can, which sold out in around three days, and those PR impressions rivaled what we get for the Final Four.”

Similarly, Brent Chism, senior director of marketing at Keurig Dr Pepper, said incremental retail displays have increased around its limited-time “Major League Tea” Snapple flavor, which carries the MLB trademark and has a baseball trivia question under each cap. There’s also an on-pack offer across flavors for a 30 percent discount on merchandise at the store.

The result has been double-digit sales increases at important retailers such as Kroger, and a differentiator powerful enough that Snapple was entertaining around 150 retailers and distributors in D.C.