Monday, April 3, 2023

Advertising, B2B Marketing, B2C Marketing, Brand Marketing, Communication

A Sponsorship Made in Marketing Heaven

Quick, name a ladder brand.

If you’re like most sports fans in America, Werner Ladder comes to mind immediately. (Especially this time of year.)

Now name a second ladder brand.


There’s only one “Official Ladder of March Madness.” And as that namesake for 15 years, Werner Ladder has turned a boring, same ol’ same ol’ commodity into a product associated with champions.

Heck, Werner ladders are literally how NCAA basketball champions celebrate. They climb, step by beautifully logoed step, to the basketball rim and cut down the nets.

Werner has even created a custom podium ladder for the sponsorship, complete with higher guardrails and a wider platform to help basketball players celebrate with ease.


Image credit:  Brian Troutman, WCIV

All other ladder brands are now forced to talk about rubber caps, sturdy locking mechanisms, tray holders, fiberglass frames, aluminum rivets, spreader mounts, angle degrees…and my gosh, I’m boring myself to death now.

Werner has created an authentic, emotional connection with sports fans. And they’ve forced their competitors to shout rational, commoditized features from the hills. I’m sure their engineers are all very proud of their ratcheting leg levelers, but no one cares.

When considering a sponsorship for your brand—whether it’s a multimillion-dollar sports activation or a $10,000 exhibitor booth—ask yourself if that spend creates a true, authentic story that will connect with your target audience.

If your sponsorship is purely for eyeballs, great. Just make sure they are highly targeted and relevant eyeballs. True marketing and sales magic happens when you can make an authentic, emotional connection to highly targeted and relevant eyeballs. Like, say, watching championship basketball players climb your product on national TV.

Admittedly, few sponsorships can create such a natural, authentic partnership as Werner Ladders and March Madness. But if you start with the main benefit of your brand or product—knowing exactly what’s in it for your customers—then you can seek out the best way to amplify that story so it sticks.

As a Gamecock fan, I’ve had the luxury of watching our women’s basketball team climb a Werner ladder many times these last few years, and our men’s basketball team climb it once (in person). I couldn’t imagine purchasing any other brand.

Brad Penner USA TOday

Image credit: Brad Penner, USA TODAY


Todd Steen
Kristie GraySmith
Jackson offices