SportsAtlas Top 25 College Sponsor Rankings

SportsAtlas Staff

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With college football now in full swing and college basketball season quickly approaching, fans will be monitoring the Associated Press’ Top 25 rankings each week. In the spirit of those rankings, SportsAtlas took a look at the 25 brands with the most college sponsorships as of November 2020 and provided context around notable aspects of these partnerships.

 

Top 25 College Sponsor Rankings

Please note the following definitions:

Portfolio Percentage: The percentage of the brand’s entire sponsorship portfolio that comprises partnerships with colleges and universities.

NCAA Brand Affinity: How much more likely a follower of an NCAA Twitter account is to follow a brand compared to an average sports fan (source: SportsAtlas, Zoomph). Example: Followers of an NCAA Twitter account are 2.87x more likely to follow Coca-Cola on the platform than an average sports fan.

Notable Partners: Primarily focused on power-five colleges within the brand’s portfolio.

Deal Counts include the number of colleges and universities the brand sponsors.

1.   Coca-Cola (128 Deals)

Industry: Beverage | Portfolio Percentage: 21% | NCAA Brand Affinity: 2.87x

Notable Partners: Clemson University, Notre Dame, Ohio State University, UCLA, University of Kentucky, University of Texas

As one of the most recognizable brands in the world, no surprise that Coca-Cola has the largest portfolio of collegiate sponsorships. While Coca-Cola holds partnerships with colleges across the country, the Atlanta, Ga.-based company has a stronger concentration of partners on the East Coast. Coca-Cola has activated on social with 19 different colleges over the past few months, including captivating campaigns with Ohio State University (Scarlet Saturday) and the University of Kentucky (Big Blue Nation Trivia).

 

2.   Nike (120 Deals)

Industry: Apparel/Footwear | Portfolio Percentage: 25% | NCAA Brand Affinity: 3.12x

Notable Partners: Duke University, Ohio State University, University of Georgia, University of Oregon, University of Texas

Nike has partnered with 120 colleges and universities as the primary apparel/footwear provider of the athletic teams. According to data from SportsAtlas, Nike pays at least 25 colleges north of $1.83M annually to have its equipment used by schools’ athletes. Nike’s most expensive recorded partnerships are with Ohio State University ($16.8M/year) and the University of Texas ($16.7M/year). Nike has activated on social with 25 schools over the past few months with many of the posts promoting the brand’s Air Pegasus 37 collaboration.

 

3.   Pepsi (110 Deals)

Industry: Beverage | Portfolio Percentage: 23% | NCAA Brand Affinity: 3.55x

Notable Partners: Penn State University, Texas A&M University, U.S. Naval Academy (Navy), University of California, University of Kansas

Considering total partnerships, Pepsi trails rival Coca-Cola by 18 deals, however, followers of the NCAA social account are more likely to follow Pepsi than Coca-Cola. Pepsi’s activity on social media with various school partners has been less exhaustive than some of the other brands at the top of these rankings, activating with 10 universities. Pepsi’s most consistent campaigns have been with Oklahoma State University, The Citadel, and the University of Texas, El Paso.

 

4.   Marriott (107 Deals)

Industry: Lodging | Portfolio Percentage: 55% | NCAA Brand Affinity: 7.5x

Notable Partners: Duke University, University of California, University of North Carolina, University of Oklahoma

 

5.   Hilton (106 Deals)

Industry: Lodging | Portfolio Percentage: 51% | NCAA Brand Affinity: 3.14x

Notable Partners: Marquette University, Northwestern University, Syracuse University, Texas A&M University, University of South Carolina

Marriott and Hilton come in at four and five in the SportsAtlas Top 25 College Sponsor Rankings. The hotel chains share a near-identical number of partnerships, with each featuring a strong blend of large and small colleges. Affinity towards Marriott is much stronger among NCAA social followers than Hilton despite Hilton sporting a strong 3.14x affinity. Marriott’s sponsorship portfolio is heavily concentrated along the East Coast, while Hilton features partnerships both along the East Coast and in the deep South.

 

6.   Adidas (94 Deals)

Industry: Apparel/Footwear | Portfolio Percentage: 24% | NCAA Brand Affinity: 2.47x

Notable Partners: Mississippi State University, University of Kansas, University of Louisville, University of Nebraska, University of Washington

Adidas has been one of the most active brands on social with their collegiate partners, sponsoring at least 60 posts over the past few months with 27 different colleges. The primary focus of Adidas on social has been its “Creators Club” membership program. While Adidas trails Nike in number of collegiate partnerships, the brand touts deals that are just as lucrative. Annually, Adidas pays the University of Louisville ($16M), University of Kansas ($14M), University of Washington ($11.9M), and University of Nebraska ($11.6M) – all more than $10M to provide its apparel and footwear.

 

7.   Allstate (94 Deals)

Industry: Insurance | Portfolio Percentage: 67% | NCAA Brand Affinity: N/A

Notable Partners: Clemson University, University of Alabama

With their “Good Hands Field Goal Net” program, Allstate is featured prominently across the country each Saturday. According to their website, Allstate makes a donation to the school’s scholarship fund for every field goal kicked during the season. Allstate also has served as the entitlement partner for the Allstate Sugar Bowl since 2007.

 

8.   State Farm (88 Deals)

Industry: Insurance | Portfolio Percentage: 36% | NCAA Brand Affinity: 5.56x

Notable Partners: Auburn University, Michigan State University, University of Kentucky, University of North Carolina, University of Southern California (USC)

 

9.   GEICO (74 Deals)

Industry: Insurance | Portfolio Percentage: 24% | NCAA Brand Affinity: N/A

Notable Partners: Arizona State University, Florida State University, Texas A&M University, University of Florida, University of Texas

Two of the largest insurance companies in the country rank eight and nine in our Top 25. State Farm features a portfolio equally distributed across the United States, while GEICO’s deals are heavily concentrated in the Northeast. GEICO has been a consistent partner of the University of Virginia’s “Shout and Roar” blog, which has been pushed frequently from the university’s social media handle, while State Farm has been a proud sponsor of Georgetown University’s “Hoya Insider” podcast.

 

10.   Ford (60 Deals)

Industry: Automotive | Portfolio Percentage: 21% | NCAA Brand Affinity: 2.55x

Notable Partners: Ohio State University, University of Kansas, University of North Carolina, University of Tennessee

 

11.    Nissan (58 Deals)

Industry: Automotive | Portfolio Percentage: 61% | NCAA Brand Affinity: 3.05x

Notable Partners: Duke University, Louisiana State University (LSU), Notre Dame, Penn State University, University of Kansas, University of Kentucky

 

12.   Toyota (53 Deals)

Industry: Automotive | Portfolio Percentage: 15% | NCAA Brand Affinity: 2.91x

Notable Partners: University of Alabama, University of Michigan, University of Oregon, University of Tennessee, University of Wisconsin

Three automotive behemoths rank back to back for number of deals across the collegiate landscape. Nissan holds a narrow edge over Ford and Toyota for affinity among NCAA followers on Twitter, which is fitting given Nissan’s NCAA partnership. NCAA fans’ affinity towards Nissan has been cultivated across various campaigns including Heisman House and March Madness. Nissan also receives significant media inventory across college sports broadcasts. Ford (Auburn University, Florida State University, SMU), Nissan (Notre Dame), and Toyota (Oklahoma State University, University of South Carolina) have each been active on social media with various partners.

 

13.   Under Armour (52 Deals)

Industry: Apparel/Footwear | Portfolio Percentage: 56% | NCAA Brand Affinity: 5.77x

Notable Partners: Auburn University, Notre Dame, University of Maryland, University of South Carolina

Under Armour promotes fewer collegiate partnerships than Nike and Adidas with 52 total deals. Under Armour has made headlines since the pandemic began as the company has reduced its involvement in collegiate sports by terminating contracts. Despite this news, NCAA followers are still more likely to follow Under Armour than Nike and Adidas. Under Armour’s largest collegiate partnership was with UCLA ($18.66M/year) until the brand ended that relationship in October.

 

14.   UPS (51 Deals)

Industry: Business Services | Portfolio Percentage: 56% | NCAA Brand Affinity: 5x

Notable Partners: Florida State University, Texas A&M University, UCLA, University of Kansas, University of Wisconsin

 

15.   Chick-fil-A (51 Deals)

Industry: Dining | Portfolio Percentage: 31% | NCAA Brand Affinity: 4.05x

Notable Partners: University of Alabama, University of Georgia, University of North Carolina, University of Oklahoma, University of South Carolina

Over half of UPS’ sponsorship portfolio is with colleges and universities, one of the larger splits of brands making up our Top 25. UPS (Rose Bowl) and Chick-fil-A (Peach Bowl) each sponsor a major bowl game in addition to their school-based deals.

 

16.   Blue Cross Blue Shield (49 Deals)

Industry: Insurance | Portfolio Percentage: 27% | NCAA Brand Affinity: N/A

Notable Partners: North Carolina State University, University of Alabama, University of Kansas, University of Michigan

 

17.   StubHub (48 Deals)

Industry: Ticketing | Portfolio Percentage: 38% | NCAA Brand Affinity: 5.11x

Notable Partners: Clemson University, Louisiana State University (LSU), University of North Carolina, University of Oklahoma, University of Wisconsin

 

18.   Papa John’s (46 Deals)

Industry: Dining | Portfolio Percentage: 34% | NCAA Brand Affinity: 2.87x

Notable Partners: Indiana University, University of Kentucky, University of Tennessee, University of Virginia

 

19.   McDonald’s (45 Deals)

Industry: Dining | Portfolio Percentage: 28% | NCAA Brand Affinity: 4.24x

Notable Partners: Mississippi State University, Ohio State University, University of North Carolina, University of Oregon

 

20.   Holiday Inn (40 Deals)

Industry: Lodging | Portfolio Percentage: 51% | NCAA Brand Affinity: N/A

Notable Partners: Vanderbilt University

 

21.   Jimmy John’s (37 Deals)

Industry: Dining | Portfolio Percentage: 49% | NCAA Brand Affinity: 5.15x

Notable Partners: Arizona State University, Marquette University, University of North Carolina, University of West Virginia, University of Arkansas

 

22.   Jersey Mike’s (36 Deals)

Industry: Dining | Portfolio Percentage: 49% | NCAA Brand Affinity: 5.17x

Notable Partners: Duke University, Michigan State University, University of Oregon

 

23.   Raising Cane’s (36 Deals)

Industry: Dining | Portfolio Percentage: 48% | NCAA Brand Affinity: N/A

Notable Partners: Baylor University, Ohio State University, Texas A&M University, University of Texas

 

24.   Anheuser-Busch (34 Deals)

Industry: Beer/Breweries | Portfolio Percentage: 7% | NCAA Brand Affinity: 3.92x

Notable Partners: Kansas State University, Mississippi State University, Texas A&M University, University of Kansas

 

25.   Domino’s (34 Deals)

Industry: Dining | Portfolio Percentage: 65% | NCAA Brand Affinity: 3.48x

Notable Partners: Auburn University, University of Arizona, University of Florida

 

Brands placing 15-25 in the SportsAtlas Top 25 College Sponsor Rankings are primarily from the dining industry – specifically sandwich and pizza chains. Many of these relationships are focused regionally compared to the distribution of sponsorships for the top brands in the rankings. Jersey Mike’s and Raising Cane’s have been the most active on social media with their collegiate partners.

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