Brand power play: Spotlight on the brands fuelling sports

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Pic: GettyImages/masaya itagaki
Pic: GettyImages/masaya itagaki

Related tags sports Olympics women athletes Sports nutrition sector

With the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris scheduled to begin on July 26, there is a stronger focus on sports and getting into shape.

Given the dynamic nature of sports marketing and sponsorships, the number of snack brands aligning with sports of various disciplines is substantial and continually evolving. In fact, thousands of brands today are involved in sports sponsorships globally, taking on leagues to teams and individual standout athletes.

Cracker Jill Spotlight Squad

Cracker Jill – a purpose-driven campaign from Cracker Jack that aims to elevate women athletes – has introduced the Cracker Jill Spotlight Squad: five women athletes participating in five different sports this summer, led by legendary sprinter Allyson Felix.

To illustrate the importance of women role models in sports, Cracker Jack conducted a survey among 700 US teenagers and found:  

  • Only one of 10 (12%) US teenagers can name a single women’s professional athlete competing on the global stage this summer
  • Nearly 45% of US teenagers cannot name a single women's professional athlete
  • Teenage girls are 45% less likely to envision themselves being a professional athlete
  • Teen girls are 37% more likely to have quit sports, while teen boys are 1.8x more likely to currently play a sport
  • One in four girls who have played sports would be motivated to continue playing if there was more visibility of women’s sports
Frito_Lay___Cracker_Jill_Spotlight_Squad_V3

“The Cracker Jill program is one I hold close to my heart because it helps provide aspiring women athletes opportunity and access to the sports they love,” said Leslie Vesper, VP of Marketing for Frito-Lay North America.

“Our new Cracker Jack study emphasizes the need for programs like Cracker Jill to continue sharing women's sports accomplishments directly with young athletes. These meaningful results highlight the importance of promoting our Spotlight Squad ahead of the global competitions this summer.”

Spotlight Squad Lockup

The inaugural Spotlight Squad includes a diverse representation of athletes across numerous sports to inspire young women to see themselves and feel empowered to stay in the game they love. This group of exceptional women athletes includes world-renowned water polo player and four-time World Aquatics Champion Ashleigh Johnson; boxing champion Jennifer ‘La Traviesa’ (The Troublemaker) Lozano; world-renowned American wrestler Kennedy Blades; wheelchair basketball whizz Lindsey Zurbrugg; and US long jump and 100-meter spring record holder Noelle Lambert.

“The accomplishments of gamechanging athletes have created a pivotal moment for women’s sports, and we are at an inflection point where people are finally recognizing how amazing and exciting women's sports are,” said Felix.

To bring more visibility to women athletes, Cracker Jack is using the Spotlight Squad to encourage fans to share their own stories. The Cracker Jill Share Your Spotlight Sweepstakes will select five fans to have a $10,000 donation made in their name to an organization that supports the next generation of boundary-breaking women athletes, as well as $500 to fuel their own sports endeavors.

“By teaming up with Cracker Jack to shine a spotlight on our amazing Cracker Jill Spotlight Squad, I am hoping we can take that momentum and excitement to inspire the next generation of athletes to stay in the game,” added Felix.

In addition to delivering $50,000 in donations to nonprofits through its sweepstakes this year, Cracker Jack is donating $200,000 to the Women's Sports Foundation (WSF) for the third consecutive year. To date, the partnership between Cracker Jack and WSF has invested a total of $600,000 to help expand access and opportunities for more than 29,000 girls and women in sports.

To enter the Sweepstakes, fans can share Spotlight Squad content from the Cracker Jack and Cracker Jill Instagram account, using both #CrackerJill and #ENTRY and tagging @crackerjackofficial_ .

Breaking with GoGo squeeZ

Logan Edra x GGS_Breaking

The squeezable pouch snack is ramping up the momentum around its newest innovation – GoGo squeeZ Active Fruit Blend with Electrolytes – with a partnership with World Champion Logan ‘Logistx’ Edra, all in service of taking the junk out of sports.

At a time when seriousness and social pressures are increasingly weighing down active lifestyles, the brands FUN-damentals campaign puts a high-energy spotlight on the genuine joy of playing sports and being active. It reminds viewers to make fun the goal of staying active through a 30-second spot set to an original song called ‘Get up’, written and performed Gen-Z Canadian rapper and actor Connor Price.

Its partnership with Edra is designed to encourage more people to give breaking – the it ​sport this summer – a try. With its dynamic energy and spirit, breaking aligns with the ethos of the campaign, encouraging individuals to step out of their comfort zones to explore new avenues of self-expression.

“I know athletes of all kinds can relate to the feeling of pressure in competitive environments,” said Edra.

“Both Breakin’ and GoGo squeeZ keep my journey fun and my spirit bright while dancing.”

Edra is further encouraging participation in the sport through a social media content series, teaming up with other breakers around the world. Set to rapper Connor Price's track Trendsetter, Edra and her fellow breakers share their go-to breaking moves to encourage anyone to show off their moves along to the beat.

“Being active doesn’t have to be complicated,” said GoGo squeeZ chief marketing officer Mark Anthony Edmonson.

“From breakdancing to pick-up basketball to a quick jog – the best way to stay active is to ensure you have fun while doing it.”

Post-workout super smoothie

Blender

Blender Bites has collaborated with plant protein brand Orgain and Emmy Award winning performer Julianne Hough to create Superberry Sport 1-Step Smoothie.

Superberry Sport embodies Blender Bites’ and Orgain’s shared commitment to providing convenient and effective plant-based nutrition solutions, providing a USDA-certified organic blend of plant-based protein, tart cherry, maqui and goji berry, turmeric, and B vitamins to support muscle recovery.

 The protein-enhanced smoothie is designed to support optimal muscle recovery and will be available first at BJ’s Wholesale Clubs, with a wider rollout across the US throughout the summer.

“I’m a huge proponent of smoothies after my exhaustive workout and dance schedules and have seen firsthand how supplementing my body properly helps tremendously in my recovery,” said Hough.

“When the opportunity arose to create a custom formula with Blender Bites, I knew that I had to replicate my own daily smoothie.”

Added Orgain founder and CEO Dr Andrew Abraham, “Blender Bites’ dedication to convenience and clean ingredients perfectly complements Orgain’s expertise in creating delicious, plant-based nutrition. It was an exciting experience to work with the team in developing a 1-step smoothie that delivers on taste and provides post-workout support for active individuals.”

Superberry Sport comes in convenient pre-portioned frozen pucks that are simply blended with water or plant-based milk for a nutritious smoothie.

Clif Corps Athlete Coalition

CLIFBAR_TIAFOE_Tennis_Bar

The sports nutrition brand’s 2024 lineup features several world-renowned athletes to help advance equitable access to sports.

In a statement, Clif Bar said it is honored to partner with like-minded athletes to further support youth sports clinics and specific nonprofit programming in local communities. Research from the CDC shows there is a significant gap in youth sports participation tied to family income level, from 31.2% among children with a family income of less than 100% of the federal poverty level (FPL) to 70.2% among children with a family income of 400% or more of FPL.

Clif Corps Athlete Coalition partnerships are rooted in purpose with the goal of removing barriers to sport and expanding access nationwide.

“We are inspired by the journeys of our athlete partners to get where they are in their careers and we want to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to pursue their athletic dreams and passions,” said Brooke Donberg, director of Partnerships and Activation for Clif Bar.

Working with its partner athletes, efforts this year will include:

WNBA MVP and Olympian Breanna ‘Stewie’ Stewart has partnered with Clif Bar and The Ark to fund basketball court hoops as a part of a court build-out for youth in Jackson, Mississippi. The Ark is a nonprofit dedicated to empowering youth and young adults in the Greater Jackson area through sports, fitness, mentorship and community building programs.

Top-ranked US tennis professional Frances Tiafoe is supporting the USTA Foundation’s Frances Tiafoe Fund with participation at USTA Foundation community tennis clinics, which provide young athletes greater access to the sport. This year, Clif Bar is also helping to fund USTA Foundation program and individual player grants through the Frances Tiafoe Fund.

National Women’s Soccer League player and Olympian Sophia Smith – most recently named the 2024 SheBelieves Cup MVP – is partnering with Outdoor Afro, a not-for-profit that celebrates Black connections and leadership in nature. Clif Bar has been a proud partner of Outdoor Afro for over a decade.

Paralympian and Marathon Champion Daniel Romanchuk is launching a first-of-its-kind nonprofit, Wheels for Change, that will loan racing wheelchairs to young athletes in communities across the country to inspire the next generation of Paralympians. Clif Bar is providing seed funding to launch this nonprofit later this year.

Launched in 2022, the Athlete Coalition is part of the brand’s long-standing community service program to further expand access and equity to sports nationwide. Giving back to communities is at the brand’s core and includes cash donations totaling $73m since 2000 and contribution of more than 200,000 employee volunteer service hours since 2001.

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