sports report fast five

Aaron Soroka – Walgreens Major League Dragon Boat | Fast Five

Posted on: March 16th, 2016

Sports sponsorship opportunities aren’t always limited to the well-known and broadcast-friendly sports. For clients looking for niche demographics and opportunities that provide big exposure, there are specialized sporting events galore. In the hot seat for this week’s Sports Report is Aaron Soroka, Chief Operating Officer for Walgreen’s Major League Dragon Boat. The festival tour includes stops in major cities and hits a demographic of higher income professionals.

Aaron Soroka

Chief Operating Officer, Walgreens Major League Dragon Boat
Years working in sports: 16

1. You are the right sponsorship choice for companies looking to:
Our Series is perfect for brands looking to have meaningful engagement opportunities with young professionals, who are adventurous and socially conscious. By design, our participants and spectators are on-site for an extended period of time creating a captive audience.
Our demo is:
– 60% female / 40% male
– Above average household income
– 64% are professionals, owners, executives, or managers

2. The most underutilized piece of sponsorship inventory you sell is:
Opportunities for employee engagement and business-to-business (B2B) hosting. Dragon boating is the ultimate team sport and is easily accessible for all fitness levels. Those partners that engage their employees, vendors or customers to form teams are overwhelmed with the response. In some locales, the event has become the most anticipated staff function of the year with hundreds of employees participating. There is nothing better than supporting the local community, and promoting team cohesiveness through a healthy-lifestyle choice.

3. Your top tip to companies looking to reach fans is:
It’s not all about eyeballs on logos. Create opportunities for brand interaction. For example, Walgreens provides free dermatologist consultations at our events. They are fully booked within the first few minutes. They are saving lives and making a difference in the community. This is a prime example of creating customers for life through engaging activations. Give people an opportunity to try your product and have an impact on their daily life.

4. Your most rewarding experience helping a corporate client achieve their marketing goals through team sponsorship was when:
We work with Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) at our Toronto event. They pour a ton of effort into breast cancer research and support. With a direct tie between breast cancer survivorship and dragon boating, there was an opportunity to create special programming and continue to build the brand’s relationship with finding a cure for breast cancer.

To ensure all survivors have an opportunity to participate, we eliminated the cost of entry for these women and began to reach out to local support networks to ensure all were aware of the opportunity to paddle.

Together we created the CIBC Breast Cancer Survivor Village, a home for survivors participating at the event. It is a place for survivors to develop bonds with each other, relax and enjoy the total event experience. Taking additional steps, CIBC provides catered meals for all survivors in the area now adorned with pink lounge chairs and other decorations.

The event is the only event in North America to provide free paddling opportunities for breast cancer survivors. It now attracts existing teams from north and south of the border and introduces new paddlers to the sport, all while raising the profile of CIBC and their support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

5. Your goal with sponsorship clients is to:
We want to create meaningful experiences for both the brand and participants. Our demographic embraces activation. Keeping that in mind, we look for ways to integrate the brand into the event experience. We want to get past just a logo, to provide opportunities for our partners to reach our participants in a meaningful way.


Are you ready to elevate your brand exposure through sports marketing? Appleton Sports Marketing is a division of Appleton Creative, which focuses on strategic sports sponsorships. Our interest is in helping our clients evaluate and negotiate sports contracts to help reach their marketing objectives. For more information, please contact and 407-246-0092 x7#.