Unusual College Football Bowl Sponsorships? You Decide

On the cusp of another Holiday Season, an interesting story caught my attention —

Ranking all 40 college football bowl games for 2015–16

I don’t consider myself an avid sports guy by any means. In fact, I had to think for a moment — how many NCAA Division 1 football programs are there?

Here you go …128.

So basically 62.5% of all teams are making a bowl appearance this season.

Now this is not a dump on participation awards or the everyone’s a winner movement crawling across parts of society today. No, I’ve got a ton of respect for all the athletes, coaches, trainers, the staff, not to mention the band, cheer squads, student fans and alumni.

It’s a big passionate production that is pure Americana. And quite frankly you know the local stations and national broadcast networks love their bowls. Yes, even with a few 5 and 7 teams, which by the way have 41% wins under their belts.

So I’m making some casual observations on bowl branding. More specifically the naming rights/sponsorships. Again this is not my expertise. But with 40 bowl games coming at us, and some odd combos you may never have heard of, I can’t help but comment …

Withstanding The Test of Time

I can connect with the original bowl classics. The Orange Bowl… Cotton, Rose, Peach and Sugar Bowls. Even The Fiesta Bowl, Holiday, Cactus, Independence, Citrus, Sun and Alamo Bowls. These are pretty much regional classics now with mega corporate sponsorships attached.

As I understand it, these can change from time to time. I believe most of the contracts are 1–3 years. Good thing. Nothing like a set of Goodyear tires to connect with cotton or Allstate Insurance with your sugar. But I reckon a Chick-fil-A sandwich with a nice juicy peach works for The Peach Bowl.

Other regional and city favorites include The Miami Beach Bowl, New Orleans Bowl, Music City Bowl (yes, that’s Nashville — not Detroit, LA or Memphis), Birmingham Bowl, Hawai’i Bowl, Boca Raton Bowl (is that in a gated community?) Heart of Dallas Bowl, Las Vegas Bowl, Texas Bowl, Arizona Bowl, St. Petersburg Bowl, New Mexico Bowl and the totally logical Idaho Potato Bowl. Oh, did I mention Popeyes Bahamas Bowl — shouldn’t they trade for the New Orleans Bowl?

So far we’re at 26 bowls and counting ...

Now I can appreciate The Armed Forces Bowl and Military Bowl. And those are good odds considering only the Air Force Academy, West Point (Army), and the Naval Academy in Annapolis field teams.

The New Breed

But then there’s the new breed of all-out commercializers. The folks who created a bowl unto themselves. The Outback Bowl, that’s just meat and blooming onions, not a down-under travel service or Subaru.

The Russell Athletic Bowl, The Go Daddy Bowl (a crazy halftime show I imagine) The Belk Bowl — I had to research this brand. Belk is a leading retail department store offering the latest in women’s, men’s, juniors’ and kids’ apparel with stores spread throughout the Southeast.

By the way The Foster Farms Bowl will be played at Levi’s stadium in Santa Clara, California. Maybe a bit of co-branding here?

Just so you know New Era’s Pinstripe Bowl is played at Yankee Stadium and The Quick Lane Bowl is in Detroit. Makes sense.

The Cure Bowl is a nice idea. Auto Nation and Florida Hospital have created a fundraising effort around their bowl game for breast cancer. Love their tag line, We Can Tackle This.

My runner-ups for 2015 favorite: The Camellia Bowl. This bowl game is owned and managed by ESPN Regional Television (a subsidiary of ESPN) and sponsored by Raycom Media, a major owner of television stations in the Southeast. I am really surprised ESPN didn’t think of this earlier — having their very own bowl game.

Oh yes my next favorite is The Tax Slayer Bowl. Enough said.

My #1 Fav: The 2015 Poinsettia Bowl is sponsored by The San Diego County Credit Union. Really? I thought the idea of a credit union was to keep operations on the cheap. Well who am I to argue with our football establishment?

Best to you in 2016. May your branding and sponsorship opportunities be fruitful and logical.

Passionate about making messages that matter for your content marketing goals. Catch his latest ideas on his Say The Write Things podcast on iTunes.