As an avid sports fan, I'd be remiss to write about anything other than what I'll be watching tonight ' the 80th MLB All-Star game. The MLB has long been a leader when it comes to celebrating their All Stars. For most leagues, All-Star weekend has become hyper-commercialized exhibitions that often celebrate the egos of its stars. But for the 15 million or so MLB fans who usually tune in, this one counts for something.
This year the league is truly tapping into the idea of community. Instead of mimicking the NBA's sponsorship-saturated All-Star weekend , the MLB and the game's sponsors are completely focused on charity work and philanthropy. And while this idea of giving back to the community through sports sponsorships is not a new one, the MLB is making sure these activities are relevant to the fans and the city that is hosting this exhibition. By supporting local causes, these brands will rise in favor among those in the communities benefitting from the efforts and the local baseball fans who will take pride in what hosting this event means to St. Louis.
Sponsors "are going to help us leave St. Louis in a better way than we found it," said John Brody, senior vice president of corporate sales and marketing at Major League Baseball. "We don't want people to feel like this is just a big corporate event. We believe in this time that we need to answer the call to service."
The authenticity of the efforts will be the key to success with these sponsorships. Some of the sponsors will be donating money to local causes, while others are putting on free concerts and donating their time during the festivities.
This philanthropic theme is especially important during tough economic times. With 8.8% of the St. Louis workforce currently unemployed, the money going toward the Boys & Girls clubs and area food banks will not only tell a good PR story but make a deep connection with area fans.
After last night's home run derby, we already saw over $500,000 donated to the Boys & Girls Clubs by State Farm through its 'gold ball'? promotion. Here are a few other examples of this year's sponsorships:
PepsiCo ' Hosting a free Sheryl Crow concert with donations raised for cancer research
Anheuser-Busch Foundation ' Donating $180,000 going to help finish a baseball field at Herbert Hoover Boys & Girls Club in north St. Louis.
Bank of America - $5,000 for every hit in the All-Star Game is going to area food banks. This is on top of matching fans' contributions to FeedingAmerica.org
Holiday Inn - $37,500 to kids' charities
Other sponsors - Help with recycling, greeting and escorting fans at the concert and other events
Prince Fielder's performance last night helped a young girl bring home $50,000 for her local Boys & Girls Club to build a teen center.
Source: McWilliams, Jeremiah. "All Star Philanthropy." St. Louis Post-Dispatch 10 July 2009. 13 July 2009 .
Image Source: David Klutho/Sports Illustrated