The Brooklyn Nets recently announced one of the NBA’s most unique sponsorship deals. Starting in the 2020-2021 season, Motorola will bring their iconic “batwing” logo to the Nets’ jerseys. Motorola will also receive prominent exposure on the Nets’ practice jerseys and throughout the Barclays Center, along with opportunities to market themselves internationally with the Nets.
This may seem commonplace at first glance. Motorola is an experienced sports partner—in 2018, they inked a nearly $4 million per year deal with the Indiana Pacers. Motorola became the Pacers’ jersey sponsor and the presenting sponsor of the official team app, supplemented with a multitude of digital assets.
One outstanding point in the Nets deal is that Motorola is the first sponsor to display their logo on NBA practice jerseys. Another difference between these two deals is the local impact Motorola will have in the Brooklyn area. Motorola Solutions has a presence in Long Island City, just a short commute from the Nets’ arena. The company pledges to bring new STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) educational programs to the Brooklyn community and donate smartphones to support online learning for homeless students.
But what really makes this deal stand out is how the Nets announced it using a strategic, athlete-centric approach. A 42-second promotional video features the team’s key players and lots of on-court action, much like a typical promotional video meant to get fans hyped for the upcoming season. It’s only at the 34-second mark that the Motorola logo is finally revealed on the new jersey. Unlike a traditional press release, the video has a “viral” appeal and resonates better with the Nets’ fanbase.
The objective of this partnership is very clear: Motorola wants to promote its brand and innovations in a wholesome way that also shows its commitment to the local community. They could have easily bought roadside billboards and extra TV commercials instead, but this represents a new type of partnership we’re beginning to see in the sports industry.
Identifying and tracking objectives is by no means a new practice, but many national-level sponsors are more focused than ever on the actual outcomes they want to achieve. For example, we’re starting to see a shift in emphasis toward key returns—not just the total number of impressions.
When the NBA jersey sponsorship program started in 2017, all partners had to commit to three-year deals. Now that these contracts are coming due, a few teams have started exploring the true value of these patches—both financially and culturally. As the NBA (and potentially MLB) gear up for the next wave of jersey sponsorships, we anticipate that corporate objectives will be key.
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