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Volume 22 No. 27
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Christian Yelich brews up nice sponsor portfolio

In Wisconsin, where cheese is king, add an endorsement deal with Sargento for Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich.

Team mascot Bernie Brewer has been the indelible symbol of the Brewers for nearly 50 years, but with a National League MVP to his credit, and a growing endorsement roster, Yelich is moving to the forefront.

Sargento, an important enough Brewers sponsor that its team rights include dugout signage and an “official cheese designation,” will use Yelich’s name and likeness on packaging and point-of-sale advertising.

It’s one of a handful of Brewers corporate sponsors who have added Yelich to their team rights, including new stadium naming-rights sponsor American Family Insurance, Pepsi, Associated Bank and the local Chevy dealers association. MLB apparel licensees New Era and Stance also have signed on, adding to a list of endemics that already included Under Armour, Steiner Sports, Topps and Louisville Slugger.

Associated Bank is one of the sponsors that has tapped into Yelich.

In most cases, there’s a cause-related or community program associated with the endorsements.

“American Family Insurance has a big commitment to Milwaukee, as you can see from the naming-rights deal and the fact they are building an office building downtown, and their name is on the new amphitheater where Summerfest is held,” said Eric Bechtel, president of IdeaQuest, American Family Insurance’s strategic and sports marketing agency of record. “Yelich has shown he’s a champion of community efforts, so it’s just another way for any brand marketer to make that statement.”

Paragon Sports has handled on- and off-field contracts for Yelich since he was a first-round draft pick in 2010. “He is a throwback; that baseball-playing kid next door,” said Joe Longo, Paragon president.

During the offseason, Yelich made appearances on “Magnum PI” and MTV’s “Ridiculousness,” along with shooting an MLB Network spot. Since Yelich’s grandfather is native Japanese, Longo said he’s also having talks with brands in Japan. Now the question is whether Yelich has appeal across America.

“Postseason performance helps a lot there, and so does having a large social media following,” Longo said. “[Yelich] has been moving the needle on both fronts.”