Our Top Five Partnership Campaigns of 2021

As another memorable year comes to a close, we here at The Sponsorship Space wanted to take a look back throughout 2021 and pick out some of our team's favorite sponsorships of the year. With the sponsorship industry changing each and every year, this year's Top 5 Sponsorships of 2021 has provided us with a few picks which are really going to change the landscape of the industry for the future.

5) FTX and Their Multiple Deals

Starting us out at the number five spot, FTX has been making some massive waves in the sponsorship industry. Over the past year, FTX has been diving deep into all areas of the sports industry and sponsoring some of the biggest names in the game. With crypto growing exponentially over the years, FTX is hoping to cash in on that by getting their brand in front of more people and gaining as much visibility as possible.

Earlier in 2021, FTX won the naming rights to the Miami entertainment venue currently known as American Airlines Arena, which is home to the Miami Heat. This sponsorship was the first major announcement for FTX this year, which seemed to create a domino effect for other deals this year. Another big one for FTX this year was bringing in a G.O.A.T (no, not the animal) by the name of Tom Brady. If you have been watching the NFL this season, we are sure you have seen multiple commercial where Tom and Wife, Giselle, talk Crypto and FTX to some of their friends and (ex-Boston friends). These commercials are really helping FTX get their brand out there even more due to the followings that each one of these two have across their social media channels.

However, as we got into the summer months, FTX still wasn’t done with their sponsorship spending. FTX finalized two more massive deals, becoming a seven-year sponsor of Riot Games along with becoming an Official Partner of Major League Baseball. These two deals will continue helping FTX and the crypto industry grow throughout different sports channels rather than just sticking to a single lane. This will ultimately help with their branding and hopefully turn into an increase in users on their platform.

4) Peloton x Delta

Keeping their foot on the gas and building off of their successful partnership with Queen Bee which landed them a spot on our Top 5 Sponsorships of 2021 countdown, Peloton spread their sponsorship wings this year with a partnership with Delta Airlines.

Peloton launched a collection of mediation content called “Classes in the Clouds”, only available on Delta’s in flight entertainment platform. This is the first time any Peloton classes have been available outside the App or a Peloton device. Whether it’s a mediation class helping ease the stress of a consumer’s first flight back since the pandemic started, or a seated stretch class on an around the globe flight to celebrate their postponed honeymoon, Peloton x Delta positioned themselves right there to keep consumers comfortable.

The partnership gave Peloton the opportunity to showcase what their App and classes can offer, even when you don’t have their stationary bike or treadmill. In December, the partnership announced an expansion exclusively for Delta SkyMiles Members. The expansion soars past in flight classes, and allows Delta SkyMiles Members an extended 60-day free trial of the Peloton App, as opposed to the 30-day free trial. On top of that, an early Holiday gift, with a $50 credit for Peloton Apparel once they sign up.

Peloton is really helping to keep consumers moving in flight, and take workouts to new heights, only on Delta.

3) Degree #BreakingLimits

Cracking the podium, and rightfully so, is the Degree #BreakingLimits Campaign, the industry’s first ever college NIL program. In July 2021, Degree announced the creation of the #BreakingLimits Team, made up of 14 athletes from a variety of college sports, all celebrating the historic new policies allowing college athletes to monetize their name, image, and likeness.

Degree set out to celebrate college athletes through various programs, community projects, and content partnerships. Each of the #BreakingLimits college athletes are championed for their own personal stories of overcoming adversities and societal challenges, and how they encourage others to keep moving to break their own limits.

This breakthrough campaign is a part of Degree’s $5 million long-term commitment to inspire people to move beyond their limits. This Antiperspirant brand is set to support those who face the biggest barriers to being active and providing them access to the tools, resources, and safe spaces needed to move more.

2) NIL Deals and the Future of Student Athlete Deals

Coming up just one spot short of our top spot, our runner-up for this year's Top 5 is a little different from a normal one off sponsorship. That's because the official launch of the NIL has allowed all brands a new way to create unique sponsorships with every type of student athlete without having anything deemed off-limits. With the opening up of the NIL, the sponsorship industry has been flipped on its head because it now allows brands of all sized to get into the sponsorship game and not just the ones who can afford large scale deals.

One example of a strategic and unique way of creating a sponsorship for a student athlete comes from Kool-Aid and Alabama DB Ga’Quincy McKinstry. Throughout Ga’Quincy’s lifetime, he has been called Kool-Aid by everyone he knows, including his teammates at Alabama, where his name is listed as Kool-Aid on the Crimson Tide’s website. Another creative sponsorship comes from PetSmart and Try Knox. This partnership not only includes Trey Knox, but also his dog Blue, who is also a part of this sponsorship. With this partnership, Knox will not only receive a monetary amount for the partnership, but he will also receive dog treats as well for his dog Blue. As you can see, there are very creative ways for brands to not only connect with student athletes but market their brands as well.

Throughout the first year of NIL being live, the numbers have spoken for themselves. Not only are you seeing deals for athletes in the larger more popular college sports, you are also seeing deals being created for athletes in more low-tier sports such as lacrosse, swimming, soccer and many more. Additionally, NIL deals are opening up the doors for athletes who are in the lower NCAA DII & DIII divisions along with the NAIA. With this never-ending opportunity for brands to connect with student athletes and their fan base, brands are going to be able to spread their funds across more areas than just one large scale deal.

1) Barilla Home Away From Home Kitchen Campaign

College students adjusting to their new life at school and away from home is extremely difficult. And nothing reminds us all of home more than home-cooked meals.​​ This year, Barilla connected with college students and this feeling of home through the universal language of pasta.

During National Pasta Month, The Barilla Home Away from Home Kitchen campaign featured students' favorite pastas that remind them of home. Barilla offered college students in Madison, Wisconsin, a free, customized meal kit delivered right to their door, including everything they need to make the recipe from home. Barilla established one on one connections with students, and gave them an opportunity to feel that love and care from home through pasta.

The Barilla Home Away from Home Kitchen is an extension of "Barilla. A Sign of Love," a global brand platform Barilla launched earlier this year. Through that campaign, Barilla positions pasta as a way to communicate difficult emotional statements, such as "I love you", "I missed you" or "sorry, it's my fault" can be demonstrated by something as simple as a dish of pasta. Whoever said pasta wasn’t a love language, was simply incorrect.