For the first time, the Hawks will wear an advertising patch on their uniforms, beginning with the 2017-18 season.
The Hawks and Atlanta-based digital health company Sharecare have reached agreement on a five-year deal that will put the Sharecare logo on the front left shoulder of the players’ game jerseys, team and company executives told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News in exclusive interviews.
NBA owners voted in April 2016 to allow teams to sell jersey advertising patches starting in 2017-18. The Hawks are the 13th NBA team to reach an agreement to do so, with companies reportedly paying $2.5 million to $10 million per year.
Sharecare chairman and CEO Jeff Arnold wouldn’t disclose what his company will pay the Hawks, but he said it’s “in the range” of the other reported deals.
“We’re not the lowest, and we’re not the highest,” he said.
Hawks chief revenue officer Andrew Saltzman agreed with that characterization and said the deal is the team’s second largest annual sponsorship, behind only the Philips Arena naming-rights deal.
Other jersey sponsorships in the NBA include Harley-Davidson with the Milwaukee Bucks, Goodyear with the Cleveland Cavaliers, General Electric with the Boston Celtics, Disney with the Orlando Magic, StubHub with the Philadelphia 76ers and Fitbit with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The NBA is allowing teams to sell one advertising patch on their uniforms, measuring no larger than 2 ½ inches by 2 ½ inches. In addition, the Nike swoosh will appear on the right shoulder of jerseys as part of that company’s new deal to become the NBA’s official uniform supplier.
Although the Hawks’ sponsorship deal with Sharecare is for five years, NBA owners voted to authorize advertising patches as only a three-year pilot program. The NBA could extend the program, but in any case, there are many other elements of the Hawks-Sharecare agreement, including signage and radio/TV commercials.
Arnold said Sharecare approaches the deal as part of its mission, rather than as an advertisement.
“Our vision here was, how do we empower people to take control of their health?” Arnold said. “I’ve always believed that there’s a powerful connection between, obviously, good health and sports and that sports teams, like the Hawks, have the power to convene people and inspire people. And so we looked at the patch and said that’s not an advertisement for Sharecare, it’s a movement.”
The movement, he and Saltzman said, is to improve the health of people across Atlanta and Georgia.
Founded in 2010 by digital health pioneer Arnold and cardiothoracic surgeon/TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz, Sharecare describes its business as helping people manage their health and wellness in one place by connecting them to information, tools and experts.
The partnership with the Hawks will include a Sharecare-branded section in Philips Arena and will make the company the presenting sponsor of the team’s radio network. The Hawks and Sharecare said they’ll collaborate on offering healthy food choices in the arena and will offer a rewards program, including game tickets, tied to healthy behavior.
Arnold, a Hawks season-ticket holder for about 10 years, said discussions about the sponsorship deal began when he was approached by Saltzman at halftime of a game late last season.
The deal was completed relatively quickly after a series of meetings, one of which included Hawks principal owner Tony Ressler.
“This thing started to steamroll and continued to have us all believe … that this was a lot more than a sponsorship and a brand on our jersey,” Saltzman said.
“Every team has had their own strategy with regard to patch partners, but ours is very clear: true to Atlanta and making this a component of a much larger and fully integrated partnership that benefits our fan base, Atlanta as a whole and certainly our partner and ourselves.”
Sharecare had passed on sports marketing deals in the past, but this one made sense, Arnold said, in part because the company is headquartered in Atlanta.
“I think this is such an authentic partnership that we’ve done with the Hawks,” he said.
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