Dallas’s digital dynasty begins
Sports marketing has been around at least since the 1870s, when a tobacco company started making baseball cards and sticking them in cigarette packs. Any sports fan will tell you that there is a special level of respect for those advertisers that sponsor their favorite team. Nowhere is this respect more evident than within the realm of professional football.
Everything related to football stadium advertising directly reflects on the team and can also have a great effect on the fans themselves. This is of utmost importance nowadays: Spectators have come to expect the quality of advertising at the stadium to equal the quality they see on TV during the Super Bowl.
There is perhaps no better example of all these interacting components than the recent sponsorship deal between AT&T and the Dallas Cowboys. With Forbes magazine (Fall 2012) ranking the Cowboys as the most valuable ($2.1 billion) NFL team, and AT&T ($125 billion in revenue) as number 11 on its list of the 500 largest American companies, the sponsorship should prove to be as effective as AT&T’s two other major sponsorship deals with the San Francisco Giants and The Walt Disney World/Disneyland Company.
The Cowboys see AT&T as one of the biggest and most financially strong brands in the world, while management at Dallas-based AT&T feels it could not have chosen a more powerful, resonant brand to align with. For AT&T the sponsorship should begin paying dividends quickly — not only do Cowboys games deliver some of the highest-rated telecasts during the NFL season, but the stadium is already on pace for both 2014 and ’15 to match or exceed its five-year annual average of drawing nearly two million visitors to 30 marquee events.
With the sponsorship deal being worth $17–19 million a year, the Cowboys and AT&T have said they “will work together to deliver an interactive gameday experience for fans like no other. All of this of course means extra data usage on AT&T’s network — which has been nearly doubled inside the stadium — in the plazas and the parking lots, creating an innovative mobile first experience for fans. And let’s face it, being innovative and the best have been and continue to be hallmarks of the Cowboys organization. With some of the new interactive enhancements only available to AT&T customers, it is sure to act as a very powerful marketing/recruitment tool, ultimately serving to increase AT&T’s revenue. At the same time, the naming rights will only serve to increase the Cowboys value, keeping them on top in the NFL. Overall it appears that the sponsorship will offer a trifecta win-win-win experience for AT&T, the Cowboys and existing/emerging fans of both companies.