A New Take on Sports Marketing: The Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl


The sports sponsorship marketplace is changing and for the better. While the sponsorship of old was for the Fortune 500 companies alone, today, brands and companies of all sizes can get in on the action. Finally, there are ways to democratize the sports sponsorship ecosystem!

Craig Johnson — the mayor of Elk Grove Village (a small northwest suburb of Chicago) — was inspired to put his town ‘on the map’ after watching the vast exposure title sponsors saw in the college football bowl games last year. Every title sponsor of a bowl game has their logo prominently displayed on the 50-yard line, their name mentioned on TV numerous times (before/during/after the game), along with many other perks throughout the game.

So, why not Elk Grove Village?

Elk Grove Village is known for its 62-million square foot industrial park, the largest in the country. Thus, the tagline, “Maker’s Wanted” — a beacon to the rest of the world that Elk Grove is looking for new businesses.

The town is looking to fill the industrial park with companies of all shapes and sizes that have a focus on creating new and innovative products. The Elk Grove Industrial Park is what keeps the town afloat, hence why this sponsorship was so attractive to Johnson.

This year Mayor Johnson — under much speculation — received approval from the town to proceed with this unique sponsorship opportunity. Johnson the slogan, “Makers Wanted” as the focus of what the town truly wants: more businesses.

“This is the first (business-to-business) municipal destination sponsorship that I’m aware of in the business,” said Kevin Adler, the founder, president, and chief engagement officer of Engage Marketing.

The Bahamas Bowl hosted Florida International University and the Toledo Rockets on December 21, 2018. Sponsorship incentives for Elk Grove included an abundance of logos — including the 50 yard line stating “Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl” in between two palm trees, patches on players jerseys, a slew of commercials hyping and publicizing the town, and an agreement with ESPN announcers to always refer to the game as the “Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl.” Mayor Johnson was even able to give a 5-minute speech at the opening dinner in addition to being gifted 25 tickets to the big game.

The decision to sponsor the bowl game did come with some hesitation. Not only was $300,000 a tough number to swallow for the town, but the industrial park is already 98% full. Was filling the final 2% of this park worth this type of marketing?

But Johnson saw this as an opportunity to not only fill that remaining space but to bring more attention to the town and his community — all leading to a (hopefully) flourishing economic infrastructure.

According to Mayor Johnson, ESPN was more than ecstatic to work with Elk Grove. “We’re unique, and we’re opening up a whole new market of potential sponsors.”

While most traditional marketing campaigns stop at brand awareness, the “Maker’s Wanted” tagline is only the beginning. By using the village business name, the sponsorship is tied to both the community and their mission. The hope was to create an all-encompassing marketing campaign during the December 21st game.

“For Elk Grove Village, I would hope it’s pretty straightforward,” Adler said. “This thing either led to more companies making inquiries and ultimately converting to leased space in that industrial park or it didn’t.”
“Talking to any marketing person around, it’s already been a grand slam,” Johnson added. “They’ve all said that.”

And Johnson has stated publicly that the global press coverage about the unusual sponsorship has already made the $300,000 worth it — in fact, it’s been ‘repaid thousands of times over’.

The industry’s response to this new branding strategy, while suspect at first, has definitely made the world take notice.

“(I) think it’s a great call to action — identifiable and clearly represents what the community is targeting in terms of outcome,” Clint Overby, vice president of ESPN Events, added.

Instant Sponsor & It’s Mission

While Elk Grove Village decides whether they would like to renew their deal with ESPN Productions Inc. for the Bahamas Bowl — they have until March 1st to decide if they will spend the $300,000 for a renewal on the sponsorship — let’s talk about how other towns or small brands can duplicate Elk Grove’s success.

Instant Sponsor is set to democratize the $66 billion sponsorship industry with a revolutionary blockchain-powered platform that connects brands and rights holders of all sizes across sports, eSports, and entertainment.

Research has determined 5–50% of professional sports sponsorship inventory goes unsold globally each year. And Instant Sponsor is going to roll out a first-of-its-kind global sponsorship marketplace that not only lowers the barrier of entry for brands to buy unsold inventory on short-term contracts but also allows rights holders to benefit from profits of what would usually turn into unsold inventory.

The goal of this global sponsorship platform is to allow sponsors to capitalize on real-time branding opportunities. The objective is to make the sponsorship industry accessible to everyone while making the sponsorship acquisition process more efficient.

Instant Sponsor has developed a proprietary algorithm that will calculate a brands target demographic, budget and running period in order to create a customized sponsorship campaign that delivers a maximum ROI.

The goal is simple: to tokenize the sponsorship economy across sports, eSports, entertainment, business, and lifestyle facilitating efficient, secure and cost-effective trade between brands and rights holders.

If you are interested in learning more about Instant Sponsor’s platform, check out the Instant Sponsor website and join the Official Telegram Community to receive news and updates about the company and sports sponsorship industry.