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Spending $340–$345 million each year, PepsiCo is the brand that earns the top spot when it comes to marketing spending on sponsorships. In second place is Pepsi’s main competitor, Coca-Cola, which spends $265–$270 million annually.

Sponsorships are long-term commitments, in which a brand supports an event or organization and, in return, gets to plaster its name on various elements associated with the event. The vast majority of these sponsorships focus on sports—and they are growing ever more intensive and ornate.

For example, in 2011, the list of marketers that spent at least $15 million on a sponsorship rose from 77 to 86. In addition to the money they pay to appear on a race car, the panels around a soccer field, or players’ uniforms, sponsors are devoting more resources to identifying the best match. According to IEG, a sponsorship research and consulting firm, the biggest sponsors spend additional millions selecting their sponsorships, and then measuring their impact, to ensure that they get the most bang for their buck. When they find out that the sponsorships are successful, they become willing to spend more each year.

As the NFL’s official beer sponsor, at a price of $50 million annually for six years, Anheuser-Busch takes third place on the list of sponsorship spenders. The list of the top U.S. sponsors is rounded out by some names familiar to sports fans, such as Nike, AT&T, General Motors, Toyota, MillerCoors, Ford, and adidas. But it also features some newcomers, including MetLife, Volkswagen, Panasonic, Hyundai, and Comcast.

Discussion Questions

  1. Are sponsorships worth the millions they cost?
  2. Why are consumer goods companies, such as Pepsi, Coca-Cola, and Anheuser-Busch, the top sponsors of sporting events?

source: E. J. Schultz, “Which Marketers Spend the Most on Sponsorships?” Advertising Age, June 1, 2012.

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