Flyers put their hands in the cookie jar


Look for me at the Sports Licensing and Tailgate Show this week if you’re in Las Vegas. It’s what remains of the Super Show, which once attracted more than 100,000 people annually in Atlanta. The event’s application asked what number show this was for yours truly; I honestly lost count after 30. I’m sure there will be fewer masks — licensed and otherwise — than a year ago.

“There needs to be a balance between commerce and social responsibility. … The companies that are authentic about it will wind up as the companies that make more money” — Starbucks founder Howard Schultz.

When the Flyers first pitched Insomnia Cookies on a team sponsorship around a year ago, CMO Tom Carusona initially said no — reflexively. As marketer for a brand spawned around college campuses, he’s turned down scores of pitches for college sponsorships as the Insomnia brand — born in a dorm room in Penn’s West Philadelphia campus — rose like dough in the oven over the past 20 years to more than 230 stores.

Still, the proposal became unique after months of discussions between the team, Insomnia and Innovative Partnerships Group, which brokered the deal for the Flyers. Certainly, there were hometown ties, but just as important was doing business with another Philly-based company in Aramark. Wells Fargo Center averages around 200 events a year, and cookies will be sold at all events, not just hockey games.

So, Insomnia’s first team sponsorship not only got it the unprecedented “official cookie of the Flyers” designation and marketing assets at Wells Fargo Center, it pushed the brand into a new distribution channel: two branded Insomnia Cookie stands at the arena opening within a few weeks. Insomnia Cookies will also be on suite menus at the arena.

“It’s a sponsorship deal, but one that also came with (retail) locations within the building, (and) that degree of business back made it attractive,” said Carusona, perhaps not coincidentally a former marketer at both Aramark and Comcast, which owns the Flyers. “This will allow us to learn and test a new model, reach a somewhat older consumer and have two million people a year in that building with our cookies.”

Every young brand could benefit from some incremental branding of the sort the Flyers will provide with arena assets. How far the combination of Insomnia’s millennial appeal and Aramark’s service base of 150 food and beverage accounts in North America seems far more significant. We’ll find out if fresh-baked cookies can scale with the help of sports. The category has shown growth lately. Restaurant Business estimates the 20-year-old Insomnia’s 2021 sales at $158 million (that’s a lot of chocolate chips).

“Awareness and brand sentiment measures are key for us as we grow, but learning with Aramark is important,” said Carusona. “We want to find out as much as we can about selling our products in an arena environment with a small footprint.”

The Flyers are also looking to integrate the cookie brand into their Student Rush ticket marketing campaign, said Dan Wise, SVP/corporate partnerships for the Flyers and Wells Fargo Center. Insomnia is hoping to use Flyers intellectual property for promotions at their 20 stores in Philly market. It’s uncertain whether team logos will make it onto cookies.

IPG’s Jeff Marks: “This is a sponsorship in a non-traditional category, but I would tell you that we applied the same ROI and revenue modeling here we would apply to a bank, tech or infrastructure brand doing a naming-rights deal.”

Carusona said the cookies will retail for around $4 in at the arena. He’s confident that the warm cookies-cold rink dichotomy will spur sales. Carusona has just one remaining concern. “I hope this isn’t going to make my phone ring a lot with more (sponsorship) pitches,” he laughed. “We just don’t have budgets like Nike or Chevy.”

A rendering of what will be one of two Insomnia Locations within Wells Fargo Center

Rothman Orthopaedics is now the “official orthopedic team physicians” for the Magic, part of a move made in conjunction with AdventHealth, the team’s official healthcare provider. The Magic sponsorship, which includes arena signage and offices within the Magic’s Advent-entitled training facility, is Rothman’s first pro sports affiliation in the Sunshine State and comes as the practice is expanding there.

With an HQ in Philadelphia, Rothman’s sponsorships have traditionally been in the Northeast, including the Eagles, Phillies and more than 60 high schools and colleges. POV Sports Marketing is Rothman’s sports marketing AOR.

Rob DiGisi’s Iron Horse Marketing, based in Upper Saddle River, N.J., is teaming up with Silver Lake Advisors in New Canaan, Conn., for what they are terming a “strategic alliance, designed to bring elite management consulting expertise to the sports, media and entertainment industries.”

The effort will combine Iron Horse’s sponsorship marketing acumen with SLA’s management, analytics and tech consulting expertise. SLA has an alternative model to typical consulting firms, staffing engagements with the firm’s partners who average over 20 years of operating experience in the industries they serve, rather than with junior associates.

Clients of Iron Horse include e-commerce startup Tee Commerce, holographic experience and media firm Holovisn and AI influencer marketplace SRA has been working with WWE for 14 years, along with Reynolds Consumer Products and educational tech company Amp.

Women in Sports and Events will fete four big-name sports execs at the group’s 27th annual Women of the Year luncheon on March 15 at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in Manhattan:

  • Andrea Brimmer, CMO, Ally Financial
  • Jill Gregory, EVP and GM, Sonoma Raceway
  • Hillary Mandel, EVP, IMG Media
  • Carla Williams, AD, Virginia

In conjunction with the luncheon, WISE will hold a symposium the day before at The Times Center in New York City.

How do I know I’ve been coming to the Sports Licensing and Tailgate Show for too many years? These shirts, from Adam Pennington’s Game Time LLC, should explain that.

  • Andrew Taylor has joined Kern Egan’s Multiplier agency as VP/partnerships. He’ll be based in Detroit for Multiplier, which is largely virtual. Taylor brings with him the Extreme Networks business, which has a sponsorship portfolio including NFL league rights and six team sponsorships, along with MLB, NHL and NASCAR league deals. Not coincidentally, Taylor worked on the Extreme account while at the NFL from 2013-16. Multiplier’s other NFL sponsor client is Invisalign.
  • The Mariners named Christian Voigt as their SVP/corporate partnerships, a newly created position, reports SBJ’s Erik Bacharach. Voigt, the former SVP/strategic partnerships at Whoop, will report to Mariners President of Business Operations Catie Griggs. The club used CAA to assist in the search.
  • MSC Cruises and the Knicks have secured a multiyear deal, making MSC the official cruise line and first global rights marketing sponsor of the NBA team, reports SBJ’s Eric Prisbell. 
  • Fanatics has reached agreements to become a primary licensed apparel partner with Cal, Oregon State, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, reports my colleague Michael Smith. Fanatics already operates each school’s athletics e-commerce platform.
  • The R&A renewed and expanded its deal with IMG for another 10 years in a move that IMG Media President Adam Kelly tells SBJ’s Wes Sanderson is a more “holistic solution” for the golf organization going forward. R&A Chief Commercial Officer Neil Armit said IMG’s work has led to “a tripling of our sponsorship revenues” and a number of new sponsors at R&A-sanctioned events such as the British Open.
  • As Damar Hamlin’s condition improves, his marketing rep, Jordon Rooney, tells SBJ his agency has been approached by several “big-name brands” but is being “incredibly selective” with endorsement and monetization opportunities.
  •  Medical Properties Trust, a Birmingham-based real estate investment trust specializing in the acquisition and development of net-leased hospital facilities around the world, has entered into a five-year sponsorship agreement for the naming rights to IndyCar’s Grand Prix of Alabama. The race will be called the Children’s of Alabama Indy Grand Prix.

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