Discover Financial Services, the Big Ten Conference and Big Ten Network have signed a multi-year agreement.
The deal makes Discover the official credit card of the Big Ten Conference and gives the brand presenting sponsorship of the Big Ten Football Championship Game on Dec. 2 in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium.
This deal marks the first time in the championship game’s seven-year history that there will be a presenting sponsor. Discover will have a significant brand presence at the event, including on-field and in-venue logo and signage and additional on-site activities. Spark Foundry is Discover’s media agency of record for their U.S. and global businesses and negotiated the partnership on their behalf.
Discover also will have the opportunity to engage with the Big Ten fan base, students and alumni networks across various platforms, including nationally televised Big Ten sporting events as well as on digital and streaming platforms such as FOX Sports GO and BTN2Go apps. Discover will also have a physical presence through on-site activities at select Big Ten events at the 14 schools in the conference.
This is not the financial services company’s first foray into college sports -sponsorships. Discover ended its title sponsorship of college football's Orange Bowl in 2014 after four years. That sponsorship included season-long advertising on ESPN. The new deal gives the brand reach across Fox, FS1 and the Big Ten Network platforms which “made this a good fit for our brand,” says Vijay Konduru, vice president of media and sponsorships at Discover.
“Being the official credit card of the Big Ten Conference gives Discover numerous touchpoints to interact and engage with a passionate audience,” Konduru tells Marketing Daily. “Obviously, Discover gets to be the first-ever presenting sponsor for the Big Ten Championship Football Game, but we also get to be involved with the Big Ten men’s and women’s basketball seasons and tournaments, and the Big Ten hockey tournament, as well.”
The Big Ten sponsors 28 official conference sports, 14 for men and 14 for women. Konduru attended both Purdue and Minnesota.
“I was fortunate enough to attend two Big Ten schools, and have first-hand experience of the loyalty the students and alumni have for the conference,” he says. “Those strong bonds mirror the relationship Discover aims to build with our cardmembers and, now, fans of the Big Ten Conference, by offering a variety of financial products and tools, to go along with award-winning customer service.”
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed, and without knowing what was paid, it’s difficult to evaluate if it’s a good deal, says Jim Andrews, senior vice president of ESP Properties, a WPP sports and entertainment marketing agency.
“I would say this, though: Since Discover clearly has identified college football fans as a key target market, they have a real opportunity to earn a positive return on objectives if they take advantage of the many activation opportunities afforded by this partnership,” Andrews tells Marketing Daily.