Inter Miami CF scores four new sponsors ahead of restart
Inter Miami CF’s inaugural season in MLS was halted after just two games by the pandemic, but the club has continued winning with its sponsorship portfolio, according to Brian Bishop, senior vice president of sponsorships. In fact, the expansion club has added four sponsors during the pause, including announcing Baptist Health as a founding partner this week.
The Jacksonville, Fla.-based company will serve as the official medical team, hospital system and sports medicine provider for MLS, USL League One and Academy teams and will have its branding on Academy jerseys for next season. Other new Florida-based sponsors include grocery chain Publix, headquartered in Lakeland, and technology company Ultimate Software (Weston, Fla.), as well as Argentinian wine brand Bodega Trivento. Bishop declined to disclose financial terms of the multiyear deals.
In spite of the shutdown, conversation momentum didn’t slow with new sponsors and none were lost because of the pandemic. Bishop said he and his sales team experienced increased traction in talks with brands in the two weeks leading up to March 12 when MLS suspended regular-season matches.
“The partners that we’ve engaged have seen the long-term play and looked beyond 2020 saying, ‘We want to be partners with this brand, this ownership group and with this team,’” said Bishop, adding that sponsors viewed the challenging times as a “short-term” issue.
Leveraging Inter Miami’s social and digital platforms during the suspension of play, especially with the uncertainty of matches in home markets this season, has been essential for Miami, Bishop said. The club needed to provide content for a growing fan base and create visibility for newer sponsors. Since last month, the team and pizza sponsor Papa John’s created a scavenger hunt in the team app and delivered free pizza to winning fans through a weekly virtual pizza party. Others such as Dunkin’, which came aboard days prior to the shutdown, have executed a digital experience — “Trivia Tuesday” — since the third week of March.
“Because there were no live sports happening, our fan base and our followers were really hungry to engage, be entertained and have hope,” Bishop said.
When MLS play resumes in Orlando on July 8 as part of a 26-team tournament, some of the club’s “highest-level partners and regional sponsors,” such as Baptist Health and Heineken, will receive in-game broadcast exposure. Bishop explained that MLS league sponsors, in addition to teams’ local and regional sponsors, will appear virtually on the sidelines and behind each goal and rotate throughout matches.
All Miami sponsors will have varying degrees of exposure on social media when play resumes, Bishop said, including company branding tied to “Starting XI” content and “Man of the Match,” among other activations.
“When we return to play, we can proceed by adding these digital elements with the traditional game-day experience and provide more value for our partners,” he said.