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Volume 22 No. 19
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Geico makes a big splash with baseball fans

One season or less was all it took for Geico to make its presence known among baseball fans. 

Thirty-one percent of MLB fans correctly identified the brand as an official insurance company of the league, the highest recognition rate any MLB insurance partner has received in the 12-year history of the annual Sponsor Breakthrough survey conducted for Sports Business Journal by Turnkey Intelligence. 

The brand replaced Esurance, the Allstate-owned digital insurance brand that held those rights from 2015-17, just prior to Opening Day.

Recognition compared to 2017

+2% points: Geico — Already a big advertiser, 2018 was its first year as a league sponsor.

-11% points: Papa John’s — Teams and fans continue to distance themselves from the brand.

-4% points: Chevrolet — A partner since 2005, the brand saw its second straight drop.

-2% points: Coca-Cola — A second-year dip after a surge in 2017 was not surprising.

Geico also replaced Taco Bell (an MLB postseason partner) atop the list of the league’s biggest TV advertisers. The Berkshire Hathaway-owned brand spent $9 million to advertise during MLB programming last season, according to, up 16 percent over its 2017 baseball spend.

Other notable findings from the data:

The final four playoff teams actually provided exposure to several rivals of the league’s official sponsors. State Farm (an MLB sponsor from 2007-12) had prominent outfield signage at Minute Maid Park, Dodger Stadium and Miller Park. Additionally, the Brewers had large Pepsi, Toyota and, of course, Miller signs, while Samuel Adams, Ford, John Hancock and Aetna each have highly visible signs at Boston’s Fenway Park.

The $6.8 million ad spend generated by first-year tire partner Hankook was nearly double its 2017 outlay.

Ad effectiveness

Turnkey draws from its database of more than 20,000 sports fans to analyze the impact of creative spots running on MLB programming.


T-Mobile, “Hats Off”
Grade: 9 (very good)

The spot featured the Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper and depicted military members and veterans being honored at an MLB game. The Publicis-created ad scored extremely high in “likability” and “connection with fans.” T-Mobile spent $2.4 million to run the spot last season, according to


Budweiser, “Baseball Fans Don’t Just Drink Budweiser”
Grade: 8 (good)

In a spot that aired 370 times across multiple networks throughout the season, according to, Budweiser utilized MLB marks by depicting baseball fans who were watching games while wearing team jerseys. The spot fared well in Turnkey’s breakthrough metrics because of its memorable and distinctive branding.