Sports Marketing and Sponsorships for Healthcare Brands

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

One of our long-time clients, a prominent doctor in women’s health, asked our team for insights about sports marketing and sponsorships. Having recently entered into a private equity partnership, he wondered whether leveraging pro sports might be a good fit for his growing business and brand.

Photos of young women at a sporting event
Don’t forget: women love sports too.

The reality is that sports marketing isn’t for everyone. A lot of research goes into pursuing the right partnership or sponsorship opportunity.

Since our agency’s medical media services guru and head media buyer Charlie DeNatale has led many successful campaigns for our clients, we asked him to lead the discussion and “pitch” a variety of ideas.

Charlie’s shared some terrific insights with our client, and it occurred to me that we have never covered sports marketing strategies on our blog. So, for our latest podcast, I asked Charlie to share some of his helpful, real-world strategies, tips, and steps on how to establish profitable sports sponsorships.

Listen to the podcast: This Sports Marketing Strategies for Healthcare Brands podcast can be accessed through the graphic below, or via any of the following podcast apps… | iTunes | Spotify | iHeartRadio | Google Podcasts | Pod Bean | Tunein | Radio Public | Stitcher |

But, before we dive into the material, here’s a breakdown of this type of marketing.

What is sports marketing?

There are two types of sports marketing, so I want to make sure we’re on the same page. The first involves marketing a sports team or an athlete to fans.

The second type is our topic today: the promotion of products and services through sporting events, stadiums, teams, athletes, and radio and TV spots. There are many ways a hospital, healthcare organization or group practice can approach this type of relationship.

It’s easy to understand why a popular alcoholic drink would be featured at a football game, or why an energy drink would be promoted at the UFC. But why would a medical practice or hospital advertise at a sporting event?

The primary purpose of sports marketing is brand awareness. So, if there’s any connection at all between your healthcare organization and the world of sports, you can invest in these engagements to raise awareness of your brand.

The second reason to invest is that this type of deal taps into a specific demographic: avid sports fans. These people are often extremely passionate and committed to supporting the brands that are associated with their favorite teams and athletes.

It’s like tapping into instant loyalty – and who wouldn’t love that?

Here, we share four ways you can establish the relationships required for sports campaigns and sponsorships.

Four Ways to Approach Sports Sponsorship Opportunities

The world of sports offers unprecedented opportunities for health organizations to align themselves with a sports team, athlete, or stadium that continues to grow its fan base and loyalty each year.

The four main types of opportunities are:

  • Team Partnerships
  • Stadium Sponsorships and Advertising
  • Broadcast Sponsorships
  • Athlete Sponsorships

Team Partnerships

What is it? Team partnerships are perhaps the most obvious form of sports marketing and sponsorship. For example, Ochsner Health is a proud “corporate sponsor of the New Orleans Saints.” Similarly, orthopaedic surgery group practices sometimes negotiate deals where they can promote themselves as the official “team doctor” for one or more local pro sports teams.

How it’s done: According to Charlie, this type of sports sponsorship has an extensive negotiating process. He says, “there’s a lot of details and many various partners.”

“So, for example, if you decided you wanted to partner with an NFL team, you have to remember that NFL teams, logos and rights to their names also belong to the national football league.” In this case, you will need to secure licensing rights with both the team and the league to use their names and logos in advertising.

The bigger picture: With this approach, brands get access to a whole community already built by the team. In addition to advertising at the actual sporting events, brands can participate and advertise at a team’s community and charity events.

Please be aware that these kinds of sponsorships can easily run into hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that is just for the “table stakes” rights to use the name. Expect to invest substantially more in marketing and advertising media to leverage your new partnership.

Stadium Sponsorships and Advertising

In a stadium advertising campaign, a brand would partner with a stadium, arena, or event hall and get approval to create an advertising campaign that would be featured at the location.

What is it? Stadiums and arenas offer many sport sponsorship opportunities to advertisers.

The highest-profile and most expensive option would be a full engagement partnership. Think T-Mobile Arena. The mobile communications company has nothing really to do with sports. But they landed naming rights to a stadium, so now anytime fans visit or watch a sporting event at the stadium, T-Mobile is mentioned, upfront and center. Now that’s powerful.

While such multi-million-dollar naming rights sponsorships are out of the question for most healthcare organizations, stadiums and arenas offer many sponsorship options as well. For example, you can sponsor internal signage, external signage, scoreboard signage, displays, giveaways and announcements.

How it’s done: You or your agency will need to speak with the marketing departments at the stadiums or arenas.

The bigger picture: Your brand will be featured at a stadium or arena every time there is an event, not just during sporting events. So, you could reach additional large and diverse audiences including monster truck rally fans or rock concert attendees.

Broadcast Sponsorships

What is it? The third approach to sports marketing avoids working directly with stadiums and teams altogether. Instead, you can advertise your brand through the broadcast affiliates, radio stations, and TV stations that air the games regularly into the playoffs. With this approach, your brand appears to be aligned with the teams, but don’t have a direct relationship with them.

How it’s done: Instead of going through a team or stadium, you or your agency can contact the radio station or TV station that is the exclusive broadcast venue for the specific team you’re after. Normally, this means contacting the promotions department and working with their sales team or general managers for a sports sponsorship.

The bigger picture: The key is to sponsor a segment that’s about the team, giving customers the impression that you are part of the team without having to get a licensing arrangement. You can get creative here. For example, a hospital could sponsor a special message for the local hockey team’s, “save of the night” linking to the hospital’s efforts to “save lives.”

Athlete Sponsorships

What is it? The final approach to sports marketing is to negotiate a deal with an active or retired athlete. In this case, the athlete becomes an endorsement personality for your product or service, and you can use them in your marketing campaign. We often go this route for clients who care for one or more celebrity athletes, with their permission of course.

How it’s done: Charlie suggests negotiating directly with the player if possible, as a sports agent will likely increase the costs and complexity of any subsequent agreement. Be aware, in this case, the athlete will probably not be able to reference the team’s brand name.

The bigger picture: Make sure that you do your research to find an athlete that’s aligned with your company values.

Final Tips for Sports Marketing Strategies

While Charlie mentions that these deals are ideal for companies in the healthcare industry, he also reminds our listeners that research goes a long way.

“Just like any other media buy…You always have to evaluate who follows that team? Who are these people who are actively watching this team on TV, going to their games, buying their merchandise?”

Researching the target audience is key before entering into any partnership. Stay open-minded and remember that the primary goal for sports marketing is usually to increase brand awareness.

Finally, be sure and listen to the full podcast for more of Charlie’s tips and insights.

If you’re interested in this type of marketing for your healthcare organization, give us a call: 800-656-0907. I know just the person who can help you establish the relationships you need for a strong sports marketing campaign.


The following is a computer generated transcript of our Sports Marketing Strategies for Healthcare Brands podcast.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA:

Hi, again, everybody Stewart Gandolf here today, we are doing another podcast and this time we’re featuring my good friend colleague media confidant, shall he didn’t tell Charlie is the media buyer and planner and head of that department for traditional advertising for our agency Healthcare Success. And I have invited him today because we were recently speaking with a client about the opportunities with sports marketing and sports sponsorship in his city. And we had such a good conversation and this is something we do for our clients from time to time. I thought I would share or have Charlie share some of his insights from his illustrious career. Welcome Charlie

Charlie DeNatale:

Stewart. Thank you very much for having me. I’m very excited about having this conversation with you. Not only have I been a media buyer forever on the traditional side, but I’ve always been an avid sports fan. So when you combine the two for a strategic marketing campaign for a client it really makes me excited and gets me excited to do some of these things for potential clients. And most of them are extremely successful as you’ll hear some stories from me as we go along today.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA:

So Charlie, you know, you’ve been around for, I don’t know, a lot of years and you know, seem to know everything there is to know about external advertising, but this idea of sports marketing. First of all, let’s talk about why this is even topical. What are some of the reasons to even consider sports marketing?

Charlie DeNatale:

Well, clearly if you wanted to look at the most simplest of answers to that question, it really is an extremely strong brand awareness campaign type of marketing for all kinds of clients. I mean, first and foremost, we have to recognize that it is brand awareness. But secondly, and I think this probably gets a lot of advertisers and media buyers like myself excited. It’s the fact that you are engaging in a partnership or an Alliance with not only a team or a or a stadium or a broadcast affiliation, not only with them, but you’re also aligning yourself with an audience that traditionally is very passionate, very loyal to their sports teams. And as a result, when you align yourself with that team or with that entity, those people who are followers of that sports team, they carry over that passion and their loyalty to advertisers. So the two big advantages of sports marketing in general is one you’re going to create great exposure from a brand standpoint. And secondly, the type of audience you’re reaching within the elements of that sports team or stadium is, is a very passionate group of people. And they respond to not only to the team in a passionate way, but they also respond to the services and products that they believe, or they perceive to be associated with them.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA:

Excellent. And so when we talked offline, we talked about there’s really four ways that you’d want to, or four opportunities when it comes to this whole broad topic of sports marketing. So I’d like you to, first of all, share what those four are.

Charlie DeNatale:

So I think the one that is most obvious to the layman out there is naming rights to a stadium. So for example, if you look around the country, so five stadium, Allegiant Stadium, T-Mobile arena, these are very high priced multi-million dollar marketing campaigns that are done whereby every time you mentioned the name of a stadium, that particular name of that advertiser is on there. So if you look at the four components of sports marketing that you referenced Stewart, the first one would be entering into what we would call a full engagement partnership with a team that could be any team baseball, football, basketball, hockey, whatever soccer entering into a marketing partnership with the team. And the strongest component of that is the fact that you were to obtain licensing rights to the team’s name and logo to use in your own advertising. That’s important.

Charlie DeNatale:

The second opportunity is to actually go to the stadiums themselves who conduct concerts as well as sports events and all kinds of events that go on in that stadium or arena and create a advertising marketing campaign with the stadium marketing person to whereby there is signage throughout the year that the advertiser can have amongst scoreboard mentions and various things like that, that you can have in the stadium, whether it’s a sporting event or it’s a concert or any kind of other event that is held at the stadium. The third component is you can avoid the stadiums. You can avoid the teams, but you can create what I would call a perceived marketing campaign by which the advertiser is perceived to be associated with the team. And the way you do that is by going through the broadcast affiliates, the radio and TV stations that, that air the games on an ongoing basis into the playoffs.

Charlie DeNatale:

And you comprise a marketing promotional campaign that makes it appear like you are aligned with the teams, but in effect, you’re creating a in game marketing promotion that allows the advertiser to be part of the ongoing game action. And you do this through the radio stations or through the TV stations and the final type of sports marketing that I think everybody loves because it’s a great ego stroke for the advertisers because they enjoy the partnerships is to actually make a deal or an arrangement with a player of a specific team. Now, obviously there is expense issues with the players, as long as you don’t get their agents involved, which tend to be more money. And you just work directly with the players, whether you go through the team or with the player directly and that player becomes in effect and endorsement personality for your product or service that you can use in your various marketing. So those are the four types of approaches you could take. Now there’s a lot of detail within each of those, but those are the four ways you can approach sports marketing.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA:

You know, when we get into this topic of sports marketing, you know, we work with different kinds of healthcare entities, right? We work with hospitals, we work with practices. We work with, you know, corporations and, you know, device farm, all kinds of different people are different types of clients. One thing that may come up is, well, is this marketing or sports marketing really appropriate for our audience? Are we reaching? You know, for example, if we’re in women’s health care and we’re going after you know, events, sports team, is this really a good fit? Tell us about that. I mean, tell me, how do you evaluate is this, you know, team stadium player or whatever, an appropriate fit for this particular client,

Charlie DeNatale:

Just like any other media buy that you would make under any other kinds of conditions. You always first, before you even enter into a sports marketing partnership, you, you clearly have to evaluate who follows that team, who are these people that are actively watching this team on TV, going to their games, buying their merchandise? Who are they? What, what’s their gender? What’s the predominant gender? What age are they just like everything else. You certainly have to evaluate all of that. Before you say a specific healthcare client is appropriate for this marketing. Now, one of the things that a lot of people would ask right off the bat is if you are a female oriented type of client, whether it be healthcare or anything else, why am I advertising with a sports team? Or why am I engaging in sports marketing? Well, the first thing you have to look at is the evolvement over the last 25 to 30 years as to who now attends sporting events who watches the Superbowl, who watches Sunday afternoon football, who watches baseball, who watches hockey, and the more you research, all of that, you will see over time how the gender split has evolved substantially to where there are more and more females who are participating, whether they are with a significant other, who’s a male or not.

Charlie DeNatale:

They are participating more in sports viewership and sports activities. You just look at the youth of today, Stewart, as you all know, I mean, we could look around the state of California and we can go out on a Saturday morning or a Saturday afternoon or a Sunday morning and look at all of the youth sports and just examine everybody that is surrounding that youth event. How many girls are playing various types of sports that you would never imagine they would have been playing 35 or 40 years ago? How many parents are on the sidelines, both male, female brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, that are watching these events. These are not just people that follow their own kids in sports. They follow right through to the professional level, to the minor league level. So sports marketing should not be perceived or thought as just strictly a male oriented type of opportunity.

Charlie DeNatale:

There are a significant female audiences that are watching and viewing and participating in team activities team merchandise that they’ve purchased as well. So it’s not much different. I mean, certainly you wouldn’t want to take a healthcare client that was so inappropriate for a specific audience and say, Hey, just because you’re associated with the Las Vegas Raiders or the Los Angeles Rams that you should be into this marketing partnership. If it doesn’t make any sense, demographically, you still have to look at that. So there is an analytical process that goes into this before you recommend, if you look at the healthcare business, it’s unique in its way in itself, because I mean, obviously healthcare is one of the most talked about and prominent subject matters in the minds of everyone. There would be a younger person in their twenties or an older person in their seventies. Healthcare is important to everyone across the board. It’s, it’s a way of life. You have to have it, you need it, and you need to understand it. So any healthcare client that is out there for the most part, and there are exceptions are going to have a specific broad appeal to an audience. And I think to some degree, sports marketing allows that to happen. So let’s

Stewart Gandolf, MBA:

Start off with the sports teams where you’re actually dealing with the team you’re an official sponsor. Tell us about, and I know you’ve done examples of most of these are all of these kinds of ways of doing it, but let’s talk about dealing with the teams what’s that you know, what’s involved you know, what can people expense or expect expense wise? How, tell us about that and maybe give some examples of how that works in the real world.

Charlie DeNatale:

Sure. So it’s in a very, it’s a very extensive negotiating process because there’s a lot of details and there are a lot of various partners. So for example, if you decided you wanted to partner with an NFL team, you have to remember that that NFL teams, logos and rights to their names also belongs to the national football league. It’s not just the team. So when you enter into a partnership with a team, you want to, you want to accomplish several things. Number one, you want to secure the licensing rights to their name and their logo to use in your advertising. And the way you do that. As an example, I did one with the new Orleans saints years ago for a particular advertiser. And the best way we use their name and logo is we called ourselves the proud partner of the new Orleans saints.

Charlie DeNatale:

So if you put up a billboard or a TV spot or a radio spot, we were able to use logos and the new Orleans saints names. And we associated ourselves with the team as a partner of the team that goes a long way to leverage success of an advertiser, because then the consumers perceive us as to being part of the new Orleans saints or whatever team you’re doing. So that is one key component. The second component is to become involved in whatever promotional opportunities, the team or charitable events that the team does throughout the year, the advertisers should piggyback on those events so that they are perceived as being part of the teams, community efforts. That’s another very important part. Another part of a team partnership would be how you establish yourself within the broadcast of the actual games. Now, this differs, if you went to the broadcast affiliate direct, if you go to the team and you incorporate your messaging within the broadcast, you then have a different component of reach and frequency within those broadcasts, because you’re actually working closely with the team.

Charlie DeNatale:

Now, when you look at all of those details and there are more there’s signage within the arena, there is advertising in the programs there’s advertising on the back of the tickets that they issue to the consumers. But when you look at all of that, the most critical piece of all of that is the licensing rights to the logo and to the team name. That’s what really gets you, the credibility in your marketing. That’s an expensive proposition as, as money goes, it’s expensive. But in terms of, if you did a deal with, for example, the new Orleans saints and you access their rights to the logo and to the name, and you get all of these other components included in the arrangement, in the partnership, you could be looking at over a year’s time of an expense of your marketing of about 200 to 250 to $300,000 a year. Now you could take that further and higher, or you could lower it depending on what you get within the confines of that partnership. But frankly, most of that money is being allocated towards the licensing of the names and the logo.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA:

So that’s one of the things that when we were talking to our client last week, that we had to remind him because he was really interested in doing this, but that’s just the table stakes, right? You have to actually, if you’re going to go ahead and sponsor, you have to, there’s going to be a whole lot more advertising to leverage that. Tell us what, how ways that you would leverage the team name and some of that media expense, you might expense expense.

Charlie DeNatale:

So the best way we found in our past history and working with some teams in leveraging that partnership is once again, the ability that every single piece of material that you put out there from a marketing standpoint, you have the ability to associate yourself with that team pending approval of the team, as well as from the NFL or from the NHL, if you’re using hockey or the NBA, but the ability to leverage all of the other components, it allows the advertiser to almost become a part of the every day daily function of that team during a given season, because you’re so much a part of what that team is doing. You know, if, if you have 60,000 people packed into a stadium and you have signage, and that signage says, you’re the proud partner of the new Orleans saints or of the Las Vegas golden Knights or of the Las Vegas Raiders.

Charlie DeNatale:

There’s a significant impact in the mindset of a consumer to see that the other thing is, if you look at something that I thought was extremely strategic, that we did years ago is outside of some big football or baseball stadiums, you’re always going to have an opportunity to access a billboard outside of the stadium, whether it’s digital or static, if you’re, if you are an advertiser and on every game day with 60,000 people coming in and out of that stadium or traffic going by in the stadium, and that billboard says, you’re the name of your advertiser? What your products are, what your services are, and that you are a proud partner of the very team that plays in that stadium, right next door to that billboard that has significant brand impact on the consumer. The other ways of leveraging any team partnership is because teens tend to want to participate in community activities, particularly charitable activities, any advertiser that is a partner of a team that can piggyback on that.

Charlie DeNatale:

They’re getting multiple aspects of promotion out of that. The fact that they are aligned with the team is important, but also the fact that they are participating together with that team in a charitable event or in a community event. So in effect, they’re connecting with the community as part of the team, they don’t even look like they’re a sole entity of an advertiser. They look like they’re part of the team. So the consumer puts their names together, and I think that’s invaluable to a successful marketing campaign. So there are numerous ways leveraging the broadcast rights are also another critical way you can do that. You’re going to have so many more opportunities to participate in, in game action, by partnering with the team, as well as participating in some advertising on their website, which is critical to a team. You, you, you Stewart probably would know more than, than I the type of website traffic, some of these sports teams get. And again, this is from a very loyal audience. So if your message is on the website, if you’re promoting some sort of a display ad on the website, that also has a lot of leverage for you as part of the partnership.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA:

Yeah. We’ve talked a little bit about the engaging with the teams and some of the opportunities there, and some of the credibility that comes with that. Let’s talk about the stadium, as you mentioned, of course, the big, the big investment would be to sponsor the name of the stadium. But I think for most people or most companies and most practices, hospitals, it’s going to be more practical to advertise inside the stadium for events. Tell us about that world. Some of the ideas, maybe some creative uses you’ve seen you know, pros and cons. I’d love to know more about that.

Charlie DeNatale:

So with, with stadiums or arenas, now, when we talk about a stadium, let’s make the example of a football stadium or a baseball stadium. When we talk about arenas, we’re talking about a basketball arena or a hockey arena. And when you look at the two there’s capacity differences, obviously with football and baseball, you’re talking about 45,000 to 60,000 people that can be packed into a stadium with hockey and basketball. You’re talking about 17, 18,000 that are packed into an arena. So regardless of which one you choose, assuming that it’s inappropriate demographic and venue for you, if you go to the stadiums direct and every stadium and every arena has their own marketing department, they have a sales team that’s out there selling advertising. Why did they do that? They selling advertising to money so that they could reasonably priced their tickets to their consumers because remember advertisers bring in money to them.

Charlie DeNatale:

And when they go out and they price their tickets to the consumers, if they don’t have incoming revenue from outside resources, those ticket prices are gonna go higher. So they gotta have, they got to balance that. And it’s very important to the arenas and stadiums to have advertisers. So the question really then becomes, okay, so what does an advertiser do with a stadium? Forget about the naming rights of the stadium, because that’s a unique opportunity. Those are 10 or 20 year deals for multi-million dollar opportunities that these companies high profile companies pay like 18 T or Qualcomm. They pay for the naming rights. That’s like a different animal, but when you want to come in with a reasonable mobile reasonable marketing plan with a stadium or arena, there’s a couple of components that go into it. Number one is you are absolutely reaching more than just the 60,000 or 15,000 sports fan, because there are other events that take place in those stadiums and arenas, whether it be concerts, whether it be seminars that are a large gathering, whether it be speeches, whether it be conventions, whatever they are, it’s more than just the seasonality of the story sports event.

Charlie DeNatale:

So Simon niche within the stadium is their year, all year round. It’s not just during the time that the teams are playing, it’s there for everything. So your signage is always visible in the corridors of the stadium or the arena. The other component, is it just about every event that goes on, whether it be sports or non-sports or entertainment, every arena and stadium has a scoreboard that is going to be flashing something or the other during the course of that event. So the advertiser can participate in scoreboard. What I would call scoreboard mentions or scoreboard visibility. You can actually run a TV commercial on the scoreboard during an event, or during a particular time when there’s a pause in that event. So that people who are in the stadiums can see that the other opportunity is every event has a public address, announcer or person that is talking to the people in the stadiums or the arenas that public address announcer can become almost like a radio announcer for you by delivering your advertising message during the course of those events.

Charlie DeNatale:

The other thing that stadiums will tend to do, they will allow an advertiser if it’s appropriate to set up tables in the corridors of the stadium and arenas, so that during intermission breaks and people are walking around, there’s almost like a little kiosk that the advertiser can have to where they could staff with their staffers, their staffers pass out brochures, talk to people one-on-one who were in the stadium about their specific health care services and what they have to offer and how it might benefit families that come into the stadium or the arenas at that time. So the stadiums will allow you those multiple opportunities, but the key to the stadium deal is the fact that you are not just reaching those 60,000 people that come in every Sunday for a football game, or that come in every game for a hockey game or a basketball game.

Charlie DeNatale:

You’re reaching every event that goes on in that arena, of course, under normal times during COVID obviously it’s difficult, but during normal times there is Mo there are multiple events that take place. And of course you benefit from those crowds and those attendance and those crowds are diversified because a concert may draw different people than let’s say a sports event or a truck. What do you call those trucks shows that they do? So there’s different events. There’s different audiences that come into these different events. So that I think is a big benefit.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA:

So great, Charlie, that was helpful. Let’s talk about advertising with the during the games and without going directly to the team or the stadium, but you’re just advertising and dealing directly with, for example, the radio station, every

Charlie DeNatale:

Professional sports team makes money on broadcasting rights. They sell their rights to broadcast their games to TV and radio stations, radio stations pay big money for that TV stations pay big money for that. And a lot of teams benefit from broadcast revenue as a result in just about every market. There are certain radio stations and certain TV stations that are the exclusive broadcast venues for specific teams. So you, instead of going directly to the team or going directly to the stadium, now the opportunity exists where you pick up the phone and you call somebody that’s a little bit more familiar to the media buyer, and that would be your radio station or your TV representatives that you normally would have a discussion with about advertising and media buys in the past. And you work with their promotions department, you work with their sales team and you work with their general managers.

Charlie DeNatale:

And what you want to try and do is you want to try to incorporate a marketing campaign that is perceived. And that’s a key word it’s perceived by the consumer who’s listening or watching that you are part of the team when technically you’re not part of that licensing arrangement we talked about earlier, but the radio station is giving you an opportunity to incorporate various types of promotional opportunities within the games themselves, outside of the games when you do special features throughout the week. So for example, if there is a Rams report or a Raiders report or a charger’s report, or a Yankees report on a specific radio station throughout the week, and there are a number of those that are available, you want to be in every single one of those shows to keep that consistency of Alliance with that team through that radio or TV station.

Charlie DeNatale:

So you sponsor those particular segments throughout the week. You’re part of every sports update that the station does throughout the week. You’re part of the in game broadcast. And one of the things I love to talk about, and we don’t have time to get super creative in this particular discussion Stewart, but I know a lot of radio stations help me with coming up with these promotions. Like if there is an end game action that happens. So for example, let’s take a baseball game. If, if a relief pitcher is called in by the manager in the seventh inning of a game, and you’re listening to the game on the radio, the announcer might say, this call to the bullpen is brought to you by, and then the advertiser message. If there is a power play in a hockey game, this power play is brought to you by, and then there’s the message from the advertiser.

Charlie DeNatale:

Now, the key to that is making a connection somehow, either with words or actions or whatever, to where you can tie the specific service that the advertiser provides with the actual in game play. So for example, if it’s a call to the bullpen, well, maybe a phone company for example, is an appropriate advertiser for that. So the radio stations and the TV stations allow you those opportunities on an ongoing basis on an ongoing basis, over a period of a full season and the playoffs to be part of that marketing partnerships with the stations that are perceived by the consumer to whereby that advertiser is almost part of the team.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA:

Yeah, that’s great, Charlie, because the idea could be that you know, for example, just talking about this, and this is part of the fun, and we could certainly have done a number of these things before, but just thinking about, you know, relief pitchers. So imagine a gastroenterology group advertising, you know, about relief at that period. There’s lots of ways or lots of other specialties. So you can have some fun with this and there’s a million different examples. And so the creativity can come from, you know, certainly the creative when we talk about the creative and the messaging, but also just the creativity of working with the media buyer to come up with the appropriate opportunities. And that’s some of the fun of what we do. So I love that,

Charlie DeNatale:

You know, storage, not only, it’s not only the media buyer, that’s critical here is, but because the broadcast stations do so many of these, the one good thing that is at your disposal, when you do these types of deals with radio stations, particularly you have the full access to that stations, promotions department. And those are the guys that you say, look, go into a room for a couple hours and come up with some great ideas for us. And we leave that work up to them. I mean, as a media buyer, I can assess it and evaluate it, but there are promotions team that that’s their job, their job is to create these things. So that’s also helpful.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA:

Let’s talk about the final broad category is the athletes themselves, whether they’re currently playing or retired. Tell us a little about some of the opportunities there.

Charlie DeNatale:

So with athletes and you know I’m going to just kinda divert here a little bit to a humorous story when I was a reporter back in the day, and I used to cover the New York Yankees in New York, and I’d go to games and play offs and interview with people in the dugout and so forth and players. And the one thing I learned back in the eighties, and to some degree it’s changed sometimes for the better, sometimes not, but you know, you just gotta be, athletes are quite egotistical. They have a tremendous skill in what they do. They make a ton of money and sometimes to find the right one is like looking at a needle in a haystack for a needle in a haystack, you know, you’ve gotta be you have to have the ability to know how to deal with these athletes.

Charlie DeNatale:

And one of the things that I’ve always made it a point is I try to stay away from their agents. And of course, if an agent hears this, they’re probably not going to like that. But the truth of the matter is, is that if you do direct deal with the, with the player themselves you have a better chance of not only continuing communication directly with that player, but also saving yourself a little bit of money. So when you find an athlete that you want as a spokesperson, you’ve got to be sure that their ego is in check and that there’s a balance to what this person is about. You’ve got to do a background, check on them to make sure that they’re representing your client in the most honorable, honorable, incredible way. And by the way, there are times that I have looked at athletes in the past that I got really excited about offering up to a client only to find out that after I do the background check, that they weren’t exactly had, they didn’t have exactly the greatest of past histories.

Charlie DeNatale:

So you certainly don’t want to align yourself with someone. Who’s got some tarnished background on, on himself or herself. But the, when you find the right one, and I’ll give you some examples of a current client that we have in Euston that we have done some retired athletes who are associated with the Astros and the rockets and the Houston Texans, but that person, that individual number one has to believe in the service or the entity that they are representing. That’s important. Number two, they have to be credible in the community. They have to have a loyalty from the consumer base and the consumers have to trust that individual. So lots of times, if you find a broadcaster who does sports games now on the air, that used to be a former athlete and they are constantly in the living rooms of people or on the radio with people every day, those people are trusted to the consumer.

Charlie DeNatale:

So you’ve got to find those types of athletes or former athletes. So for example, in Houston, one of the things and I guess it’s okay to mention the name of the client, but we have a low T client in Euston and called SynergenX. And one of the things that we wanted to do with SynergenX, we’ve wanted to find a former athlete who was well-known in the community, who is now in their forties and fifties, which matched the age demographics for SynergenX and was currently visible in the market. So we went after a former pitcher of the Astros. His name is Steve sparks. We went after a former player of the world championship rockets when they won the championship back in the day Matt Bullard, we also went after a couple of radio personalities who have an association with some of the sports teams.

Charlie DeNatale:

Those people provided credibility because not only were they great athletes, not only did they have a super, super connection to the community, they were credible. They were family type guys. They were articulate in the way they spoke about the client. So I would say getting back to the original question and athlete is great. If you can find the right one and it takes a little bit of work. You got to make sure you do your homework and you gotta make sure that the athlete is 100% on board. And you should introduce that athlete to your client, make sure the athlete understands what kind of services they’re providing. Are they comfortable with those services? Do they like the facility? Do they like the people? Do they get along with the staff and then have them come back and talk on the air about the services and products that are offered? That’s the best way to approach it?

Stewart Gandolf, MBA:

We’ll try. This was fantastic and fun. As I knew it would be. As we wrap up here, are there any last bits of advice or things that spring to mind that, you know, if you, as you start evaluating this, like when a client, maybe you perhaps think of it as a client, you know, just maybe heard this podcast, but had some quick questions. Like how would you help them think it through? What, what should they be thinking about? Well,

Charlie DeNatale:

I think the first thing I would say is be very open-minded about sports marketing, just because the word sports is in there, don’t evaluate it and put it in a certain bucket and think that it’s isolated and you’re not going to reach your audience. You know, you should, first of all, be open-minded about the idea because, you know, if we think back on traditional media over the many years, everybody thinks TV, radio, billboards, whatever print. And of course now we’ve got the evolvement of digital. So there’s a whole new world of marketing here, but sports marketing should not be perceived as some sort of one way street in terms of an audience. So I’d say be open-minded number one. Number two, is yourself the question or do the appropriate research as to if you’re going to engage with a specific entity, a team, a stadium, whatever it is, do the appropriate research.

Charlie DeNatale:

Don’t just say, Oh, I’m excited. I can be associated with the New York Yankees or with the plus Angeles Dodgers. Just because that excites you, doesn’t give you a reason that you have to be part of that marketing campaign. You need to do your homework. So I would suggest anybody who thinks about this form of marketing should do their homework as well. The third day, maybe this is the most important. And I usually, I like to say this sometimes in a very diplomatic way to clients is what is your expectation? If you’re thinking about sports marketing, what is your expectation of what this is going to do for you? Try to understand what the relevance and importance of a marketing campaign like. This is really all about it is about branding. You know, don’t think that if you put your name up on a stadium and you call yourself a so five stadium that all of a sudden, after one day, everybody’s going to run and buy into your services or products.

Charlie DeNatale:

That’s not what this is meant to do. This is meant to provide solid brand awareness and increase your level of market share and awareness over time. So having expectation going in as to the advantages of what this is, and of course finally, on a humorous note, if you’re a client who loves sports and you like to have your ego stroke, isn’t it great to be part of a sports team in your community that you follow and that you’re passionate about, and that it really does satisfy your ego. When you talk to your friends and say, Hey, I’m a partner of the Ram. So the chargers or the Dodgers or whoever and that does a lot for you from a publicity standpoint and a public relations standpoint. And there’s a little bit to that. A lot of people sometimes go into sports marketing, especially when they align themselves with teams, because it’s an ego stroke. They like it. But from a business perspective, you got to separate those two and you got to make sure that your money’s being spent wisely. That’s probably the best advice I can give anyone.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA:

The thing, if you’re working with a B2B audience, I’ve had a lot of fun with in the past is running out boxes, not even for the full season, but there’s a lot of power, you know, where we’ve had events with here in Southern California at the Kings at the Lakers at the angels, we have a sports box. And then, you know, if you’re have sort of a VIP crowd, you’re trying to schmooze for the cost of a box, which, you know, it might be 10,000 catered. We had the Lakers. One time we did one where they had two or three Laker girls who, by the way, it turned out to be college educated, super articulate, fantastic at dealing with business people. It wasn’t like, you know, sort of a stereotype. These are really smart, engaging people you know, really as a hit. So that’s another kind of offshoot. It’s not a traditional advertising program, but it’s a B2B unique opportunity.

Charlie DeNatale:

I will say this and on the, on that matter as a media buyer over the many years, and when I’ve set up a lot of these deals with a lot of different advertisers part of the media world, that’s always been fascinating to me. It is a very schmoozy type of partying type business. And I’ll tell you one thing it’s always great when you do these deals and you can be invited to one of those suites you were referring to and, and have all the food and the drinks that you want and enjoy the company of other people, including your advertiser, as well as watching a sporting event. I mean, yes, there’s a lot of fringe benefits, you know, you’ll get tickets, et cetera, you’ll get merchandise, all this other stuff. So there is a lot of benefits to that. You’re absolutely.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA:

Yeah, no, it’s fun. There’s lots of different ways of doing this. That’s part of the creativity and, you know, it makes our job fun. It’s why we do this. So on that note, the I do appreciate our listeners listening for those of you. Many of our listeners, you know, I’m always talking about digital, digital, digital, you know, it’s, we really are a digital first agency, but we are an integrated agency. And so we do traditional advertising is a big, big part of our business. And Charlie, you know, I’ve done this business for many, many years and Charlie is just fantastic in terms of his skillset. I remember we always laugh about one of our oncology clients. We were talking about, which bus bench outside of the subway station in Jersey, you know, was a good opportunity. Charlie noticed that level of detail. So if you’re interested in either a sports sponsorships or traditional advertising feel free to call us and you know, traditional advertising is part of it. You get to meet probably Charlie and me talking or some of our other people. So, Hey thanks again, Charlie. It’s been great having you all did this more often, we have so many fun stories to talk about.

Charlie DeNatale:

They do, I enjoyed this Stewart, this was fun and this kind of hits home for me. So I like this subject.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA:

Yeah, no, I just thought this was a fun one, because this is the kind of thing that’s not on the beaten path. And you know, here, we’re talking about this stuff and we do a number of teams and individual players sponsorships and different things we’ve done over the years. And so it’s just something that most people don’t talk about. They don’t really know about this is super instruction. So thanks for joining me, Charlie.

Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer at Healthcare Success
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Success, one of the nation's leading healthcare and digital marketing agencies. Over the past 20 years, Stewart has marketed and consulted for over 1,000 healthcare clients, ranging from practices and hospitals to multi-billion dollar corporations. A frequent speaker, Stewart has shared his expertise at over 200 venues nationwide. As an author and expert resource, Stewart has also written for many leading industry publications, including the 21,000 subscriber Healthcare Success Insight blog. Stewart also co-authored, "Cash-Pay Healthcare: Start, Grow & Perfect Your Cash-Pay Healthcare Business." Stewart began his career with leading advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson, where he marketed Fortune 500 clients such as Wells Fargo and Bally's Total Fitness.

Comments

Continue

Your proposal will include:


Competitor Intel Icon
Competitor Intel
Recommendations Icon
Recommendations
Our Pricing Icon
Our Pricing

...and much more!

“Despite practicing in a hyper-competitive market, our new-patient counts are double what they were for the same time period last year. Hiring Healthcare Success was one of the best business decisions I have ever made.”

Headshot of Jonathan Calure
– Jonathan Calure, MD

List of recent conversions