Should Grocers Sponsor Tailgating?

Sep 06, 2013

With tailgating in parking lots and at home not showing any signs of slowing down, several supermarkets are actively playing up their roles as sponsors of various NFL as well as various college teams.

Last week, the Jacksonville Jaguars indicated Publix would replace Winn-Dixie as the ‘Official Supermarket of the Jaguars’ in a five-year deal. Publix joins the Jaguars "Jamboree," the most significant corporate partners of the team.

The partnership will provide Jaguars fans with the opportunity to participate in tailgating experiences at Jaguars games and in-store promotions at Publix. The team’s pregame radio show will be renamed the ‘Publix Tailgate Show.’ Other sponsorship elements include weekly tailgating recipes on, signage inside and outside of EverBank Field, and player and cheerleader appearances during the season at various Publix locations.

"Jaguars fans will feel like they’re ‘home’ when shopping at Publix during the season, as Publix is known for its terrific in-store activation," said Jaguars senior vice president of corporate partnerships Scott Massey. "Tailgating is synonymous with football and we look forward to working with Publix to provide fun and memorable experiences to Jaguars fans each year."

As official sponsor of The New York Giants and New England Patriots, Stop & Shop have exclusive rights to use both teams’ logos in store displays and media, according to Supermarket News. Other related-marketing elements have included playing cards, posters of players and team-themed reusable bags; store visits by current and former players; sweepstakes contests for tickets, signed footballs and gift cards, and special tailgating events. Last year, the Patriots’ star tight end, Rob Gronkowski, launched a new cereal "Gronk Flakes" exclusively at Stop & Shop stores in New England.

H-E-B chooses a "Tailgater of the Game" for home games of the Houston Texans, the Univeristy of Texas, Baylor University and Texas A&M. The winners get their images displayed on stadium video boards and athletic department websites and receive shopping sprees valued $1,000 for H-E-B shoppers.

Some programs also recognize the many female fans who have fallen in love with teams.

As official sponsor of the Baltimore Ravens, Giant Foods is the title sponsor of "Purple," created to provide Baltimore Ravens’ female fans "a community entirely for themselves." Now in its 7th year, Purple provides a forum to stay involved with the team and each other through updates and special offers, and includes specialty women-only events at the Ravens’ stadium.

What’s the value of grocer’s sponsorships of NFL and college teams? Is reaching tailgaters a different challenge than what it takes to reach other target grocery shoppers?

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8 Comments on "Should Grocers Sponsor Tailgating?"

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Steve Montgomery
8 years 8 months ago

Football has replaced baseball as America’s sport. The season is shorter and therefore more intense, with a far shorter playoff season which culminates in what has become a national holiday. With its avid fan base, it is a natural target for supermarkets whether for tailgating or the far larger potential of in-home meals, snacking and beverages. Well worth the effort.

Mark Heckman
8 years 8 months ago

Having sponsored both pro and college teams in past venues, I can tell you that these sponsorship are usually not cheap and the benefit often difficult to measure. What Kroger, HEB, Giant, and Publix are doing with their sponsorships is adding tangible activation elements, that can lead directly to sales (on-site coupons, and in-store support with displays, etc.).

With this activation included in their deal, retailers are smart to become associated with good sports franchises. In addition to linking the sponsorships to sales there are the soft benefits as well. The emotional loyalty these fans have is somewhat transferable to the retailer when they invest in the sponsorship and are then given recognition as a team supporter.

On the downside, when things do not go well with sports teams, whether it be personal scandal, on-court fighting and suspensions, or just chronic losing records, the investment is unquestionably damaged and that is a risk that these sponsorships will always carry.

Richard J. George, Ph.D.
8 years 8 months ago

Since all retailing is local, such sponsorships make good sense. As noted, sponsorships can extend beyond the professional teams in one’s market. Harp’s in Arkansas does a terrific job of connecting with Arkansas Razorback fans, including cakes and cupcakes in the form and color of a razorback.

However, I recommend that the local sponsorship be extended to the local high school as well as community team sports. Why not cordon off a section of your parking lot on Wednesdays and invite the local high school marching band to practice, followed by soft drinks and goodies from your in-store bakery? Not only does this demonstrate a local commitment, it brings family and friends to your location to watch the band.

Zel Bianco
8 years 8 months ago

Sponsorships are a great way to cross-pollinate shoppers and a great American pastime. It takes into account the way people live and makes shoppers feel connected to their store and their sport, which is a great impression. It might even grow the number of males in store during the season, that identify with the “coolness” of the in-store promotions. Reaching tailgaters entails the same attention to detail, relevant pricing, and promotions that it takes to target other shoppers. Using the football season to attract those shoppers is a no-brainer.

Chris Petersen, PhD
8 years 8 months ago

In an omnichannel world, reaching consumers requires engagement beyond the traditional store. Consumers shop anytime, everywhere. Sponsorship at NFL and college games enables grocery retailers to reach consumers “in context” as part of a lifestyle event that transcends “shopping” for just for groceries.

One of the trends to watch will be the smart retailers who enable consumers to shop online, and then pick up their goods at the game event so they don’t have to schlep them in to tailgate. That’s creating value beyond just products sold.

In fact, at the Richmond International Raceway, Kroger has already enabled their consumers to not only go online to pre-purchase the hotdogs, but also the grills and even propane tanks … with the real convenience of picking it all up at the raceway when they get there.

Reaching game tailgaters is no longer a novelty; it is yet another example of the fabric of consumer engagement in a connected world.

Ed Dunn
8 years 8 months ago

Here is a thought on how grocers can reach tailgaters—how about a pop-up grocer food truck selling packaged meats and vegetables at the tailgating function?

Most tailgaters are social influencers that draw their social circle into the event. This would be a wonderful opportunity to be in on the ground floor connecting directly with tailgaters, as well as creating jobs for the college students.

Mark Burr
8 years 8 months ago

Today, there absolutely must be innovative ways utilized to reach customers. Tailgating is just one of the many potential means to accomplish that difficult task.

It is no less challenging to reach customers via tailgating than any of the current options.

It is simply impossible to run a newspaper ad and just watch the doors swing today. Reaching the consumer today has to be done where they are, both physically and virtually. Retailers must spread that effort over both opportunities today in ways they have never thought of in the past.

Almost every possibility has to be considered. It is a new world, changing at a nearly unmanageable speed. An opportunity such has tailgating might just be equally as effective as some of the virtual opportunities. It also has the power of a physical presence.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
M. Jericho Banks PhD
8 years 8 months ago

This is a marketing area where independent supermarkets have been leading for decades. It doesn’t require a huge corporate effort to support local teams. Look at the signs on the outfield fences. Look for the sponsors’ names on the jerseys for non-scholastic sports teams (Little League baseball, for instance). You’ll find the names of local independent supermarkets everywhere.


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