Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

How Companies Like Sanderson Farms Are Winning Through Sports Sponsorships

Mississippi has hosted the PGA TOUR since 1968, but when the tournament was left without a title sponsor in 2013, the state was at risk of losing its only major-league professional sporting event. Then, Sanderson Farms stepped in. The move left many scratching their heads; why would one of the country’s largest poultry producers agree to spend millions of dollars to sponsor a golf tournament?

According to Statista, global sports sponsorships by companies rose to an all-time high of $65.8 billion in 2018. Annually, corporations set aside millions of dollars for various marketing, advertising, and public relations strategies that they hope will promote their products and services. Forbes ranks sponsorships as one of the marketing tactics that have the greatest potential return on investment.

Increased brand awareness is one of the main reasons these companies are willing to invest so much in sports-related sponsorships. This awareness comes in the form of a deeper connection with their target demographic, new customer leads, or additional media exposure, according to LinkedIn. However, some sponsorships have a greater return than others. Finance Magnet states there is significantly more value in sports sponsorship packages because viewership numbers and audience demographics more accurately reflect the amount of exposure a company is likely to receive. For instance, Statista estimated professional golf has 4.8 million viewers per tournament, which could directly correlate to the amount of exposure a brand might receive by sponsoring a single golf tournament.

While these statistics are staggering for a golf tournament, 65 percent of golf spectators are men, and Sanderson Farms’ target demographic is women. Meaning, the majority of women that buy Sanderson Farms chicken are not necessarily watching golf and thus will not be able to guarantee the company the same return on its sponsorship investment. Rarely, sponsorship incentives can be about social responsibility, rather than return on investment, according to Eventbrite. Some corporations will sponsor events simply because it aligns their brand to a cause or mission they are passionate about. With $2.1 billion in all-time charitable giving, the PGA TOUR could be described as the perfect partner for a company that wants to give back.

“We know that the people who are buying our chicken aren’t doing it because we sponsor a golf tournament, but we don’t sponsor a golf tournament so that people will buy our chicken. We do it for the 175,000 children who are treated at Children’s of Mississippi each year,” said Joe F. Sanderson, Jr., CEO and Chairman of the Board of Sanderson Farms. “In addition to the tournament’s charitable aspects, we decided to step in because of the significant benefits to the Jackson metropolitan area. Our commitment to Mississippi is furthered through an economic impact of over $26 million, which the Sanderson Farms Championship provides to our region during tournament week.”

Exemplifying this commitment, 100 percent of the proceeds from the Sanderson Farms Championship goes directly to charities across Mississippi. Since becoming title sponsor in 2013, the tournament has raised record-breaking donations year-over-year, totaling over $5 million. Last year alone, $1.2 million was presented to Friends of Children’s Hospital, the Championship’s main beneficiary, in addition to $260,000 given to charities across the state.

At the end of October, 132 of the best professional golfers in the world will arrive in central Mississippi to compete for a PGA TOUR title. While thousands will come to spectate, and millions will tune in to watch the tournament, the primary goal for title sponsor, Sanderson Farms, will be to help change the lives of children throughout the state of Mississippi, regardless of how much brand exposure they receive.

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