Klement’s Racing Sausages Cut from The Team – Milwaukee Brewers Iconic Partnership is Over
For ages, the sausage debate in Milwaukee has been about condiments, not sponsorships.
Almost a decade ago, I was at a company outing in the right field patio private event space. At that time I think it was the Frontier Airlines sponsorship. That party area changed naming rights several times in the past decade and currently sits without a sponsor. But the whole time, grills at the Milwaukee Brewers Miller Park cooked up hot, delicious Klement’s Sausages. This sponsor relationship, dating back 25 years to our beloved County Stadium, was untouchable in fans’ minds.
January 24th, 2018. There’s a New Meat in Town.
Let me say this, I’m not an avid news watcher nor do I subscribe to sports radio. But this morning, I was working from home, which meant coffee and a little Fox 6 Wake Up with a news story that was different. Not murders. Not a snowpocolypse. And not a controversial downtown streetcar project. Sausages. Just good, old-fashioned delicious ground meat on a bun.
They clamored, “Klement’s Sausages are gone from Miller Park.” The logo will no longer be adorned on concession signs, LED scoreboards, and certainly not on the jerseys of our beloved Brewers Racing Sausages. Johnsonville will be cracking out the ketchup, mustard, and onions (known as KM&O in our home) at Miller Park from now on.
What can we, as marketers and advertisers, learn from this?
Nine Things You Should Know About Marketing Sponsorships
- Sponsorships Should Be Part of Your Plan
Sponsorship investments are the real deal folks. Whether it’s a hole at the chamber golf outing or a major endorsement, sponsorships should be part of your marketing strategy. They help you to build brand awareness, connect with your prospects, and bring an overall feeling of goodwill to your marketing mix.
- Sponsorships Are Fleeting
Keep an eye on contracts and maintain strong negotiations. Now, I’m not saying that didn’t happen in this case…only Klement’s and the Brewers know how this really went down. But, for you marketers out there, if you have a valued sponsorship, ask for right to first refusal for future years.
- Be Careful Who You Align Your Brand With
All signs point to this being a great 25 year relationship…two well-known, respected local brands. But sponsors and the organizations they support need to be in alignment. I’m sure sausage sales at Brewers Games dipped during the 2002 season, and could you imagine what a Klement’s sausage recall could have meant for the Brewers? Just saying…be careful about who you partner with. Their brand becomes yours, for better and for worse!
- Are you Getting Your Money’s Worth?
Usingers. Klement’s. Johnsonville. If you would have asked me yesterday who was the Famous Racing Sausage brand…I like to think I would have guessed it right. But sponsorships are tough to measure folks. It’s all about brand awareness, and you have to be okay with not knowing if you are really getting your money’s worth.
- Bob Uecker vs. the Racing Sausages. Who’s Your Target Market?
Families, youngsters, and millennials love their racing sausages…but for the baby boomer crowd and older sports radio listeners, a long standing relationship between baseball legend, Bob Uecker and Usingers Sausage is king. This relationship dates back to 1995 and even spurred on a spinoff brat brand featuring Mr. Baseball himself. When you choose your sponsorships and spokespeople, think in terms of target market. Who do you want to reach? Is this opportunity a fit?
- Local Matters
“As Major League Baseball becomes more and more about making money and maximizing profits, it’s not surprising that the Brewers chose to go with a national brand over the hometown company. While we valued our 25-year partnership with the Brewers, we’re proud to still be the hometown sausage company with a focus on quality over quantity.”That was the statement released by Klement’s yesterday. Ouch. In a tight community like Milwaukee, local matters. Whether it’s running a float in the Main Street Fourth of July Parade or endorsing the little league team, think local when you choose your sponsorships. No matter what size your company is, it’s important to stay connected to your hometown.
- What’s the Business Impact?
Sure, everybody’s squealing over the change to the Famous Racing Sausages, but there’s a far greater impact on the business. Concession sales. Let’s say that 50% of all fans eat some sort of wurst…that’s 1/2 a sausage per person, with last year’s fan attendance of 2,627,705. That’s 1,313,382 brats, Italians, or hot dogs sold at Miller Park in 2017. Wow! As a small local company, I would imagine that a lot of their links were in the Brewers Basket. Add to that centralized local delivery to one location, standing orders, and predictable revenue. As a business, diversity and client base is an important consideration. If your sponsorship selection locks you into a behemoth client, remember that that relationship can always turn south. Hopefully, Klement’s doesn’t get burned too bad in this whole thing.
- Make it Memorable, Make it Racing Sausages
Your logo on a banner. Your name on a sponsor list. People aren’t going to remember that. The beloved Klement’s Famous Racing Sausages are a fan favorite. It’s the best part of a bad game and the familiar faces in an ever changing roster. It’s fun, it’s competitive, and it’s visual. When you choose sponsorships, go for memorable!
- Run Your Heart Out
Here’s the cold, hard reality. Many people don’t truly take advantage of their sponsorship dollars. Tables go unfilled at benefit galas, un-engaged employees are told to represent a company at an event, and bad chotchkies are handed out at golf outings. Once you choose to invest in a sponsorship, run. Run hard. Give it your all. Win that sausage race!
Ketchup vs. Mustard. Like the KM&O debate in my household, we don’t have a clear winner when it comes to condiments or sausage brand. But whether you sit in the bleachers or the luxury box, tailgate to the radio, or enjoy the play-by-play at home on the big screen, they are all great and different views of the game.
Klement’s…we will miss you. Johnsonvillle…you’ve got big buns to fill.
Let’s go play ball!