sports report fast five

Ben Harling – Clemson Tigers Sports Properties | Fast Five

Posted on: April 28th, 2016

Sports fans form less of a community, and more of a family. Joining with causes and making creative, unique and meaningful promotional opportunities is key to genuinely engaging fans. Ben Harling, manager of business development at Clemson Tigers Sports Properties, is in the hot seat this week discussing how immersing your brand is critical to sponsorship success.


Ben Harling

Manager of Business Development, Learfield
Years working in sports: 9


1. You are the right sponsorship choice for companies looking to:
Immerse their brand/message within the fabric of collegiate athletics. We enjoy working with clients who are open to fun and creative avenues to engage fans in a meaningful way. We’re a great fit for companies looking for a customized, multi-media partnership that can target a diverse demographic ranging from students, young professionals, families to retirees.

2. The most underutilized piece of sponsorship inventory you sell is:
The digital space is underutilized in the sense we’re still growing and developing sponsorable content. As is the case with many universities, there are limitations on what we’re allowed to do with the school’s official social media accounts, website and mobile app. Over the past year, we’ve made significant strides, especially with regard to social media, but it’s still a huge priority going forward. Our partners are looking for more exclusive content and unique promotional concepts that connect with fans beyond game days.

3. Your top tip to companies looking to reach fans is:
Be genuine, use your sponsorship to show how the company is a true partner of the university. If you can tie your sponsorship to a cause-marketing message or bring value to fans in some way it tends to make a real connection. Secondly, use a multi-faceted approach and have continuity through the different seasons (i.e. football, basketball and baseball).

4. Your most rewarding experience helping a corporate client achieve their marketing goals through team sponsorship was when:
Last season we teamed up with the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee and our colleagues at University of South Carolina to implement a reading campaign across all public elementary and middle schools. To summarize, students who read six qualified books during the fall semester were eligible to win a VIP game day experience at the Clemson vs. South Carolina football game and a signed letter from each coach. Additionally, schools with the highest participation received money for teachers and their media centers. The results were remarkable. Everyone involved was blown away by the participation and excitement from students, teachers and administrators. Over 70,000 kids read books to qualify! It was so rewarding to go to the winning schools and congratulate them in-person. Two of the kids that won the grand prize had never been to a football game.

5. Your goal with sponsorship clients is to:
Cultivate a longstanding and meaningful connection with our fan base where they ultimately view our sponsor as a trusted partner. Using a true relational approach we’re aiming to leverage the strong affinity and emotional connection an individual has for the Tigers to influence buying habits and/or brand perception. We believe in a long-term commitment to perfect our approach and build equity with followers.


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 amy@appletoncreative.com and 407-246-0092 x7#.