I'm always fascinated with how brands spend their marketing dollars. Like many marketers my age and older, I come from a very mixed world in many ways, considering I started my career in public relations for a professional sports organization, then quickly moved into community relations, where I empowered our corporate marketing department to sell sponsorships around our community appearances.

I quickly learned what brands (at that time - 2005-2007 - RIGHT before Google started to dominate the world and when Twitter and Facebook where just becoming mainstream) would pay for and what wasn't really valuable to them. Honestly, a lot of shit was kind of just thrown together to make it seem like they were getting a lot of awareness - and they probably were, as our arena held 22,076 people and had many sellouts. We also had a TV contract, and as the team was winning, our sponsors got bonus impressions due to national broadcasts popping up at critical points in the season.

Then, my career quickly took a shift back into Marketing, and as I was responsible for actually buying media, not selling sponsorships, I found myself NEVER wanting to buy anything that wasn't 100% trackable back to the data. This means in 2007 I basically stopped buying outdoor ads, TV ads, print ads and radio and essentially poured everything into Google Adwords (not surprising, right?).

This decision was not popular at the time, and took many of the sales reps at media companies by surprise. No, I take that back - they were in shock and pretty much hated me.

So, fast forward to today, where we now see a company - a WEB company for that matter - SquareSpace - participate as a jersey sponsor of the NBA New York Knicks. Many thoughts flood my brain as I see this happen.

First of all, I'm surprised this didn't happen earlier in American Professional Sports. Freaking kudos to the NBA and it's franchises for opening up this essentially NO ADDITIONAL OVERHEAD COST ADDITIONAL MASSIVE REVENUE STREAM.
Secondly, unlike the professional soccer leagues (Premier League, I think, I'm not a soccer guy and don't want to take the time to do the research right now for this blog post) and the WNBA, the jerseys actually look pretty freaking good. The tastefulness of a patch across from the Nike logo is cool. As a fan, I'd still buy that jersey.

Lastly, and most importantly, IS THIS A GOOD MARKETING MOVE FOR BRANDS? I mean, it has to be unGodly expensive. Flagstar Bank, the jersey sponsor of the Detroit Pistons, could make and deploy amazing creative and absolutely flood Facebook, YouTube, Google and all audience networks (which basically amounts to anywhere people do anything online) for what they're likely paying for this Pistons/NBA sponsorship.

But, then I think, shit, there's only literally 32 of these opportunities in the world. And while watching NBA games, you can't NOT LOOK at the jerseys, can you? No way. So, it's kind of an arbitrage in a way.

The same way I deeply believe in Facebook Ads and YouTube Ads over TV Ads, I'm starting to see media/sponsorship sales folks get smart. NFL games are showing commercials off to the side while minimizing the playing field and showing coaches talking to players on the sidelines in a 72/25 split screen rather than a 100% commercial break.

Even better yet, they're allowing the analytics to continue the audio, and just show the break "brought to you by Lexus."

Now, these high priced placements may be worth it, vs. the traditional TV ad.

While un-trackable back to true ROI, it's still a power long term branding move by a company like SquareSpace. In my world, I can give anecdotal credence to the fact that business owners constantly wonder if they should "just have a SquareSpace site." If the Knicks continue to win, or at least be interesting enough to get games Nationally televised games on Christmas Day and throughout the season, SquareSpace is going to win along with them.

As a digital marketer, though, I also see this as a nice move digitally. It ties into social media HUGE, as countless photos are being shared on Instagram, team tweets being embedded with this news, and YouTube highlights from this season will forever have these jersey patches emblazoned on them.

All said, while I don't believe in many non-digital marketing channels, this type of move - the type that demands your attention, and then can be shared over and over again digitally, might be one of the best branding power plays of all time.

Paul Hickey has created and grown businesses via digital strategy and internet marketing for more than 10 years. His sweet spot is using analytics to design and build websites and grow the audience and revenue of businesses via SEO/Blogging, Google Adwords, Bing Ads, Facebook and Instagram Ads, Social Media Content Marketing and Email Marketing. The part that he’s most passionate about is quantifying next marketing actions based on real data.

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