" />
3 Key Trends in NBA Patch Sponsorship

3 Key Trends in NBA Patch Sponsorship

4 minute read

  • Jersey Patch sponsors stem from consistent sources: technology brands seeking awareness, Financial Institutions, and large employers igniting passion in their local HQ market and beyond
  • Brands outline their supporting activation programs to complement jersey sponsorships
  • Jersey patch sponsors have incorporated philanthropic ties to their investment

The NBA has become the first out of the ‘Big Four’ North American major professional sports leagues to allow ads on jerseys (MLS & CFL are both professional sport leagues that currently allow jersey patch sponsorship). During the 2017-2018 season, players in the NBA will sport corporate logos on their team uniforms. The ad space will be sold as part of a three-year pilot program where each team will have the right to sell its own ad space to sponsors. In consideration of the foregoing, MKTG has outlined the state of jersey sponsorship in the NBA, common activation strategies around the patch and potential implications for the league.

Jersey Patch Sponsors Stem from Consistent Sources; Technology brands, Financial Institutions and local employers

There are clear commonalities in the roster of sponsors who have invested in the NBA jersey patch. Firstly, technology brands are leveraging their patch sponsorship to drive mass awareness for their digital initiatives such as Sharecare and the Atlanta Hawks that are teaming up to improve healthcare for Georgia. Secondly, F.I.’s like Flagstar Bank (Pistons) and Western Union (Nuggets) are mass brands that historically have greater permission to invest in signature branding assets that reach mass audiences. Finally, employers with a large presence in the region of their local NBA team (Goodyear in Cleveland, Harley Davidson in Milwaukee) have invested back into properties that can be positioned as supporting local passion points, be a source of pride for employees, and block competitors from gaining traction in an HQ market.  

Jersey Sponsorship side-by-sidePDF.jpg

Brands outline their supporting activation programs to complement jersey sponsorships

In the majority of jersey sponsorships announced to date, brands are clear in their messaging; jersey patches are part of a broader commitment to the property. Brands are showcasing videos that highlight the brand synergies, collaborative tactics and creative activation strategies for teams and sponsor. Both Sharecare and Fitbit are leveraging their partnership to tackle health and wellness through their digital platforms. Sharecare is activating around their jersey sponsorship with their ‘Sharecare Movement’ in collaboration with the Atlanta Hawks. In contrast, FitBit and the Minnesota Timberwolves are exploring ways to leverage and integrate their technology to improve player’s performance, and assist fans in making healthier choices during games. Jersey patch sponsorship is isolation can be perceived as an awareness-driving media buy. By complementing the asset with an integrated activation, sponsors will resonate deeper with fans.

Jersey patch sponsors have incorporated philanthropic ties to their investment

Many jersey patch activations are rooted in community and philanthropic programs. A number of jersey sponsors are using their relationship with NBA teams to demonstrate local support in communities and to provide a measurable cause impact to builder a deeper connection with consumers. General Electric, Flagstar Bank, Qualtrics and Sun Life Financial are brands that are activating around their jersey patch deal through broader philanthropic initiatives. Along with their jersey patch sponsorship, General Electric has committed $50MM to improve STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education in Boston Public Schools. In comparison Flagstar Bank will be the presenting sponsor of the Detroit Pistons Math Hoops Community Relations Platform with the core focus on helping students learn math skills through NBA statistics. The NBA jersey can a source of pride for fans and jersey patch can be seen by some as the over-commercialization of an important fan symbol. Adding philanthropic components to the activation helps to alleviate the risk of fan backlash.


With the NBA season approaching, jersey sponsors will be competing for share of voice on and off the court. Brands need to be increasingly conscious of the execution of their activation strategies, making it flexible enough to adapt to different markets. As the NBA season draws near, sponsors will continue to make a concerted effort to innovate beyond the patch to connect and resonate with fans.

Disclosure: Sun Life Financial is a client of MKTG Canada

Picks of the Week: September 25, 2017

Picks of the Week: September 25, 2017

"NETFLIX IS A JOKE"