By Monique Moffo, Senior Program Manager, LIFT Labs, Comcast NBCUniversal
When I was a kid, youth sports sponsorships meant the local deli footing the bill for a box of soccer jerseys and giving us ice cream after we won the game. If they were really nice, they’d hang a team photo on the wall. In return, they hoped our families would come back for dinner once in a while.
But, after meeting with the team at Philadelphia-based startup LeagueSide, I learned that these partnerships had the potential to be far more strategic and sophisticated. LeagueSide empowers businesses to build engaging digital marketing campaigns through sponsorship of local sports leagues in specific locations and demographics. Sponsors can email families coupon codes, giveaway offers, or open their businesses for league events. The sponsorship model leads to exposure for businesses — and the funding means sports leagues can better support young athletes and lower barriers of entry for families.
As a member of Comcast NBCUniversal’s LIFT Labs team, I help look for opportunities to connect startups with our company in order to find innovative solutions to business challenges. After meeting the LeagueSide team at a networking event, I connected their founders with the Xfinity team in Comcast’s Big South Region who was looking for ways to drive awareness and engagement with Xfinity retail stores.
This led to a pilot program in the region, where the Xfinity team worked with LeagueSide to sponsor baseball, football and soccer leagues which were in close proximity to Xfinity retail stores in Huntsville, AL, Memphis, TN and Augusta, GA. Along with on-field banners, Xfinity stores opened their doors to families picking up jerseys before the season.
The results speak for themselves. LeagueSide surveys indicate that Xfinity brand familiarity increased by 40%. Most importantly, Xfinity’s contributions lowered administration costs for the sports leagues, giving more children the opportunity to play sports.
Jason Smith, vice president of accounts at LeagueSide, recently told me: “We never would have been able to make that connection without Comcast’s LIFT Labs team. They helped us convey our full capabilities to the right people and brought the stakeholders to the table to get that done.”
It appears to be the start of a prosperous partnership. LeagueSide and Big South have expanded their program to include a new one-year campaign for 2020 supporting six Xfinity stores.
“I wish that more large corporations across the country had programs like this to promote their willingness to do business with startups or smaller businesses. Startups need internal champions that understand their capabilities and can advocate for them get an audience with the decision makers at those corporations,” Smith said. “This helped us have the right conversations with the right people and get our project past the finish line.”
Interested in partnering with us to bring your startup to decision-makers at Comcast NBCUniversal? Contact us and we’d be happy to help.