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Sports Sponsorships

by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings

By Max Donner | Special to

Tonight you can see the Los Angeles Kings aim to win their second game in a row when the club hosts their Western Conference rival Colorado Avalanche at STAPLES Center.  While you are there, you can also see how successful sports sponsorships work and, just maybe, find ways to benefit your own business.

Sports sponsorships are especially valuable to companies that want to been seen in a team’s home area.  For Mercury Insurance, sponsoring the L.A. Kings has been a winner.  California is the America’s largest automotive insurance market, so reaching out to drivers there and motivating local insurance agents has helped the company achieve its goals.

Mercury’s sponsorship of the Kings hockey team is a classic example of active sponsorship.  In contrast to brand sponsorships in which companies simply associate themselves with the fans of a particular team, active sponsors actually become part of the fan community.  “We get feedback all the time.  I get e-mails from Kings fans asking what we’re doing for a particular program,” explains Eric Thompson, the Mercury marketing vice-president who organizes sports sponsorships.  “We want to get fans to our web site. Some look for a better rate right away, some compare rates when their old policy is closer to renewing.”

The $4 billion asset company is the leading independent broker and agency writer of automobile insurance in California.  But Mercury Insurance operates in only 13 of America’s 50 states, so expensive national advertising programs like Super Bowl spots will not reach that many of the customers the company wants.  “We rarely buy national media, it’s too expensive for us,” reports Thompson.  

Mercury is represented by insurance agents and does not sell directly to consumers, so direct mail is not cost effective either.  But effective sports sponsorships like the Kings program are the best of both worlds.  The company’s brand is seen by fans in the stadium and on television, and the company’s on-site fan community outreach programs help win new customers and build the loyalty and satisfaction of existing customers.  Top performing agents are part of the program, too. Agents and brokers receive invitations to Kings games at STAPLES Center.  Mercury also has a suite there it has found a good way to entertain outstanding agents.

Mercury is also sponsoring sports teams in other states where it provides insurance and works with several college teams as well. The company’s strategy is fairly simple -- measure results and stay with the programs that produce good results. After testing different approaches to the Kings sponsorship program, Mercury has seen results that make it well worthwhile.  “It’s worked well for us.  We are getting the response we were looking for,” says Thompson.

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