Sponsors Incorporating Themselves into Athletes Pregame Outfits
Updated: Jan 14
Sports sponsorship revenue in the North American market was estimated at about $17.7 billion in 2018 and is constantly growing. Throughout the sports industry, sponsorship activation can be seen in traditional ways such as ads in the venue and on the broadcast, contests, games, and more. However, as the industry is constantly evolving, so are the ways to incorporate sponsorship in unique ways. Used throughout various professional leagues, a novel way of sponsorship activation is incorporating a brand into a pregame outfit of an athlete.
Pregame outfits have become an opportunity for athletes to creatively express their style and personality. The arena and stadium walk-in is now a staple across broadcasts of many sport leagues and on social media. There are even popular social media accounts like LeagueFits, by SLAM Online, dedicated to pregame outfits from NBA players.
NFL Quarterback, Tyrod Taylor, said, “It is the closest thing to being in a fashion show and if you want to show your sense of style, the opportunity is pregame.” It connects athletes to fans, engages new ones, attracts sponsors, and helps send messages of social good.
Patrick Mahomes, Quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs, recently became the man with the largest contract in sports history at $503 million for 10 years. In addition to that, Mahomes is finding unique ways to incorporate his sponsors into his pregame outfits. Mahomes' current sponsors include Oakley, Adidas Football, Essentia Water, Bose, Whoop, and various others. He incorporates these sponsored products where he sees fit and utilizes his immense presence on Instagram to share with his 3.7 million followers. For example, Mahomes posts photos of himself pregame walking into the stadium with an Essentia water bottle in his hand and he tags Essentia Water. Also, Mahomes is known for posting videos of pregame activities with short clips showing his sponsors' products in use while tagging the brands in the video. These initiatives seem simple but are highly effective for the sponsors as their products are being seen by millions of people. Athletes like Mahomes tend to have much higher engagement rates on social media than brands or teams, presenting sponsors with high ROI.
These strategies can also be seen across other leagues such as the NHL. In a league that is traditionally known for a more formal dress code, players still find ways to express their style and incorporate sponsors. For example, Maple Leafs defenseman, Morgan Rielly, and many other NHL players signed a sponsorship deal with the Canadian retailer, RW&Co, known for their men’s suits. Rielly's passion for fashion has grown during his time in the league. He showcases his RW&Co. clothing in his pregame photos throughout his personal Instagram. Rielly keeps his fashion relatively reserved but is able to express himself through accessories to make the outfit his own.
These are just a few out of the many examples of the integration of products into professional athletes' pregame attire. The sports sponsorship market has had exponential growth and this tactic has proven to create beneficial partnerships for the sponsor and the athlete in full view of the fans.