If you blinked, you might have missed the Boston Red Sox dismantling of the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games to take the 2018 World Series. It was the fourth Major League Baseball title for the Sox this century, having banished the Curse of the Bambino in 2004, followed by title parades in 2007 and 2013.
An average of 14.3 million viewers were afforded multiple views of the bullpen in Boston’s Fenway Park, where they could plainly see Konica Minolta signage (see photos). According to Kay Du Fernandez, senior vice president of marketing for Konica Minolta, the Red Sox are one of nine partnerships the manufacturer has forged with MLB franchises, a group that also includes the Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, Houston Astros, San Francisco Giants, Kansas City Royals, New York Yankees, New York Mets and Atlanta Braves.
“We always like to say that we partner with winners, and this year two of our teams made the World Series,” Fernandez said with a laugh, admitting she has a soft spot for the Dodgers.
Konica Minolta’s partnerships with these franchises represent one aspect of a large sports marketing initiative for the OEM. It has a direct partnership with the PGA and is the Official Multifunction Printer of the PGA Tour. Its signage can also be seen at various college basketball arenas during March Madness, and Konica Minolta has partnerships with NBA, NHL and NFL teams.
The baseball partnerships include hospitality suites and programs that provide Konica Minolta with tickets to home games. Dealers and direct channel partners of Konica Minolta are provided tickets to bring their customers to the games, and the OEM has held some employee events at Citi Field in New York. Konica Minolta hosted a Veteran’s Day event in which a dozen or so area veterans were treated to a ballgame.
“We use our assets in thoughtful and engaging ways for all areas of business—customers, employees, partners and advertising,” she said.
Hospitality enables Konica Minolta to provide a once-in-a-lifetime experience for attendees. The OEM has a suite at Giants Stadium, which is used not only by channel partners to entertain clients at football games but has also served as a venue for meetings and events. Game attendees are given VIP treatment, complete with field passes and stadium access not afforded to the general public.
In four of the baseball stadiums, Konica Minolta has technology centers in the form of a boardroom suite with signage and technology, or a full technology suite with signage, décor, logos and large wall installations with brandings.
Konica Minolta negotiates sign placement with its various partners. These deals also include designations, such as official sponsor, preferred partner, official copier provider, in tandem with the signage.
“Baseball has been great for us from a visibility perspective,” Fernandez added. “The TV exposure is awesome, which is why we also have signage in basketball arenas during March Madness. It allows us to get the television coverage that we otherwise wouldn’t have.”
Sports partnerships are part of a three-pronged approach for Konica Minolta, according to Fernandez. All of the teams it partners with are customers, fostering a mutually beneficial business relationship. On the marketing end, it provides branding and brand awareness. From an activation perspective, the OEM leverages its hospitality opportunities to further strengthen business with dealers, direct channel partners, end users and other associates.
Golf is the biggest sports marketing outlet for Konica Minolta. In addition to its official designation, the manufacturer has signage and hospitality for seven different stops on the PGA tour. A partner deal with PGA television broadcaster CBS features Konica Minolta’s SwingVision camera shots, a longtime and popular feature of the telecasts.
In addition, Konica Minolta has agreements with a number of arenas, including Madison Square Garden, Staples Center and Prudential Center.
A side benefit enables Konica Minolta to team up with its partners to support charitable causes. One such organization is Tackle Kids Cancer, of which Giants quarterback Eli Manning is the spokesperson. Konica Minolta employees take part in a Birdie Challenge, where they predict how many birdies will be made during a given PGA event. Challenge participants donate a dollar amount for each of the birdies made, which is then matched by Konica Minolta. All proceeds benefit Tackle Kids Cancer.
“We’ve done the Birdie Challenge for several years,” Fernandez said. “It’s been very successful and fun from an employee engagement perspective, and beneficial for our partnerships with the Giants, the PGA and the charity.”