Lessons learned from selling naming rights to California Memorial Stadium helped pave the way for UC Berkeley’s campus-wide sponsorship program.

The school launched the University Partnership Program in 2015 based in part from sponsor feedback on the naming rights deal.

“Every C-level executive we approached said ‘we appreciate the opportunity, but we want to be embedded on the campus year-round with direct business opportunities, engagement opportunities, product placement and workplace internships,” said Solly Fulp, UC Berkeley executive director, university business partnerships and services.

“That, along with the decline in state support for higher education in California, was an opportunity for us to look at campus-wide partnerships.”

The school ended up securing a 15-year, $18 million naming rights deal with Kabam based in part on the company’s interest in recruiting UC Berkeley students, said Fulp, who previously served as executive director of athletics prior to taking his current position.

While the video game company is pulling its name from the football field, UC Berkeley continues to go full steam ahead with the UPP initiative.

Since launching the program two years ago, UC Berkeley has secured 10-year, multi-million-dollar deals with Bank of the West, Brita, Under Armour and, in a new partnership this year, Peet’s Coffee & Tea.

The school also is targeting deals in the communications and airline categories.

The school developed four guiding principles to ensure partners align with the UC Berkeley brand and add value to students, alumni and other stakeholders.

“The governance model has been helpful in terms of acclimating the campus to the concept and allowing us to get input and buy-in from everyone,” said Amy Gardner, UC Berkeley director of project affairs.

Below, the four guiding principles as outlined on UC Berkeley’s UPP site.

#1) Brand alignment. Ensuring our partnerships are aligned with and support the university’s shared mission and values. We encourage partners to reimage the world by reaching further with excellence, scale and diversity.

#2) Campus services. Securing partner products or services that contribute to and enhance the daily experiences of our students, faculty, staff and campus community.

#3) University impact. Identifying meaningful program support, sustainability, innovation, services and new opportunities that positively impact Berkeley’s values and mission of teaching, research and public service.

#4) Revenue growth. Pursuing significant partnerships that unlock new campus revenues and program support.

UC Berkeley takes a bottom-up approach to identifying potential partners via category-specific working groups. Each UPP Working Group is comprised of a mix of students, faculty and alumni who are charged with identifying potential prospects, engaging on-campus subject matter experts, gaining feedback from the campus community and writing RFPs.

The working groups also make recommendations on what to avoid in sponsorship packages. Students in the Banking Working Group decided to prohibit credit card solicitation due to concerns over “bounty fees.”

“They didn’t want revenue to be tied to sign-ups,” said Gardner.

In addition to banking, the university has created working groups for the airline, communications, apparel, coffee and other categories.

The working groups make recommendations to the UPP Advisory Committee, a group comprised of cross-campus leadership. The committee advises on UPP policies, consults on new opportunities, reviews working group recommendations and sends opportunities to the UPP Executive Committee for final approval.

“There are many layers of checks and balances. Our office is on the side facilitating and bringing everyone together,” said Gardner.

Each partnership includes a mix of business-building opportunities, marketing rights and student programming.

Peet’s $8 million partnership includes sales rights at Cal Dining and Cal Athletics facilities, a new coffee cart outside the Recreational Sports Facility, academic scholarships and support of various student programs and initiatives (paid internships, student travel grants, sponsorship of an on-campus food pantry, cooking classes, a gardening program, etc.)

“Peet’s was founded in Berkeley. The brand alignment goes back to our guiding principles,” said Fulp.

UPP staffers work hand-in-hand with Learfield, Cal Athletics’ multimedia rights holder, when working with sponsors. UPP includes athletic department assets in every package it brings to the market, said Fulp.

“Learfield is treated like any other stakeholder. They bring their assets to the table and participate just like our alumni association or student affairs.”

Learfield, which this year replaced IMG as Cal Athletics’ multimedia rightsholder, is free to go after any category UPP is not targeting, he said.

“They have a business model and need to cover their expenses. This a complimentary program. Learfield understands the value of participating in this process.”