TicketManager | Did Fanatics Just Score the Deal of a Lifetime?

For 43 years, the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America has been synonymous with creating moments of joy for critically ill children. This week, sports products manufacturer and retailer Fanatics announced that the nonprofit organization’s sports-related wishes will be granted under the name Fanatics Make-A-Wish.

According to Sportico, deal terms were not released, but the company led by billionaire founder Michael Rubin “said it would make a $10 million contribution to the foundation. Fanatics also said it would contribute ‘additional resources’ that include merchandise and production costs for storytelling.”

Even if that $10 million is an annual commitment rather than a one-time contribution, Fanatics is getting a bargain. By all accounts, Make-A-Wish is not only well-known, but also widely respected and, in many cases, beloved. The organization reported to Candid (formerly GuideStar) that “a recent nationwide poll found that Make-A-Wish is the seventh most trusted nonprofit brand in the U.S.” and “according to multiple independent evaluations, Make-A-Wish is one of America’s top 10 nonprofit brands.”

Corporate brands may be popular and admired, but it is nearly impossible for them to achieve the level of emotional connection that a charity can. Fanatics likely just did that for less than the cost of a stadium naming rights or top-tier jersey patch deal.

Whether or not Fanatics is paying a fair market price for attaching its name to Make-A-Wish, their alliance is a good reminder to all rights holders that there is tremendous power in their brands and that their brand strength directly translates to partnership value.

Corporate marketers seek partnerships with properties that understand the meaning and worth of their own brands and practice all of the elements of good brand management—conducting and responding to research into fan and public perceptions, developing strategic marketing campaigns that differentiate the organization, etc.

The brand should be at the core of the organization, with everyone involved committed to understanding, articulating and managing it.

Properties in the sponsorship marketplace should assess their organization’s brand equity as well as their ability to easily convey brand strength and value to prospective partners.

Understanding the brand and being able to communicate its positioning and impact is a crucial step in transitioning from one-dimensional transactional sponsorships to the more dynamic and profitable model of partnerships in which each party delivers value to the other and has a stake in the other’s success.