A Look At Those Who Pivoted And Scored In 2020

Brand, Team Success With Engagement In A Year Like No Other

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Sponsorship Valuation
Social Media
January 28, 2021
 min read

It was a year like no other, that 2020, but as we look forward to what lies ahead in 2021, it is important to see who, and where, sports pivoted to succeed in its most challenging of times. What were the lessons learned, and which companies, and teams, saw opportunity and seized it, because much of that pivoting will be creating the roadmap to success for all going forward.

A Look Back At The Year

Accessible below is our deep dive into social data 2020; which brands hit it well, what teams found their engagement sweet spot, and why. We think it says volumes about who did the most in terms of listening to the audience, leaning forward and finding ways to get stuff done.

While some of the names may be familiar, some of their placement may be surprising. Take a look, and by the way, keep your eye on Michelob Ultra, a challenger brand which worked with the NBPA and the NBA to earn a big spot amongst its peers, as well as Kia, which took a cue from all going on in cause and inserted itself into a larger narrative than just selling cars, also with the NBA. Sentiment and connections to fans through social media are what drove engagement for a lot of brands in sports in a year of “Bubbles” and “Wubbles.” 

Some other things to look for: 

  • NBA was top social content producer for 2020. They posted 30% more than the NFL but generated 85% more engagements. The NBA’s average Instagram post drives 314,718 engagements. 4 of the top 5 teams by social media value are in the NBA, with the Dallas Cowboys coming in 5th. The LA Dodgers were the only team to make the top 25 from outside the NBA & NFL. 
  • Dodgers win the World Series and on social. While most teams experienced a drop or flat engagement rate compared to 2019, the LA Dodgers more than doubled their overall average engagement rate, from 0.242% to 0.575%, and showing increases in engagement rates consistently across all their social channels. Instagram is most notable, with engagement rates climbing from 2.82% on average in 2019 to 4.77% in 2020. They also kept their engagement rates higher than their 2019 average during the pandemic shutdown; with community support from the Dodgers Foundation, highlights from seasons past, and video messages to keep fans feeling connected.
  • Michelob Ultra enters the top 25 brands with its new NBA sponsorship. The brand’s social media sponsorship value in sports rose by 28x from 2019. 

Top 10 Brands: 

  • 84% of Nike's value came from logo recognition, with the NBA being the biggest value driver, contributing more than half of the brand value. 
  • The most engaging posts driving value included #StateFarmSaturday during the NBA All-Star Game and the NBA H-O-R-S-E Challenge Presented by State Farm, with the NBA driving most of the value for the brand; 40.6% of value came from logo recognition. 
  • 80% of Kia's value came from the NBA, primarily from the brand's sponsorship of the All-Star Game and logo recognition from jerseys and signage. 
  • The NBA was the top value driver for AT&T with the #ATTSlamDunk.
  • 74% of Tissot's value came from the #TissotBuzzerBeater campaign with the NBA. 
  • 65% of Bud Light's value came from the NFL's social channels, with sponsorships like the "Bud Light Celly" and the "Showtime Cam".
  • 52% of Spalding's value came from the NBA's social channels. 97% of all of Spalding’s value came from logos in images and videos. 
  • Wish makes the top 10 brands thanks to their jersey sponsorship with the Lakers. 
  • The Lakers were the top value drive for Budweiser, delivering 23% of the brand's value with the Moment of the Week campaign. 
  • The NHL drove the most value for adidas, primarily from jersey promos - most notably the “Reverse Retro” series.

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