Few categories have a more ubiquitous presence across the sports landscape than hospitals and healthcare networks.

Local, regional and national healthcare providers are increasingly using sponsorship to promote their health and wellness message and showcase their medical expertise.

Recent deals span nearly every type of property including marathons, pro sports teams and college athletic programs.

Ties include St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Marathon; Aurora Health Care and the Milwaukee Brewers; and Dignity Health—St. Mary Medical Center and Long Beach State athletics.

Sponsorship objectives differ from hospital to hospital (and hospital network to hospital network), but can largely be boiled down to the following three drivers:

Promote Brand Messaging
Hospitals often use sponsorship to promote enterprise and institute messages such as health and wellness programs and fundraising initiatives.

The Cleveland Clinic uses the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Cleveland Indians as an extension of local media buys. The hospital has placed more focus on media-centric assets that can be used to geotarget specific messages and creative based on geographic marketing priorities.

“Even though we are seeing more people recording shows to time-shift or skip commercials, fans are still watching sporting events live. Therefore, we have shifted our sponsorship assets to include a heavier media approach, with a larger impact on broadcast and digital and social,” said Mary Beth Pate, Cleveland Clinic executive director of marketing & philanthropy communications.

Those assets include presenting sponsorship of Indians.com, exclusive radio sponsorship (Cleveland Clinic Indians Radio Network) and home plate signage that provides in-stadium visibility and broadcast exposure.

The hospital also uses the sponsorship assets to maximize philanthropic fundraising initiatives with VeloSano, Giving Tuesday and other strategic partners.

Showcase Areas Of Expertise
Hospitals are increasingly using sponsorship to promote specialty practices, with a focus on sports medicine.

The Mayo Clinic uses its multifaceted partnership with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Lynx to highlight its work with professional athletes. The tie centers on Mayo Clinic Square, a sports medicine facility/training center where the two teams have direct access to Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center expertise.

Mayo Clinic doctors also serve as team physicians, a platform the hospital uses to promote its expertise to amateur athletes and weekend warriors.

“We can treat them the same way as high-level athletes, whether its surgery, rehab or conditioning,” said Dr. John Wald, Mayo Clinic medical director for marketing and public affairs.

Demonstrate Corporate Mission
Some hospitals use sponsorship to showcase their health and wellness mission.

OhioHealth leverages the Columbus Blue Jackets, Columbus Crew and other properties to demonstrate its mission of “improving the health of those we serve.”

That often includes providing medical expertise to sponsored properties.

“From care of professional athletes, to spectator first aid, to customized wellness programming for employees of the partner, our signature partnerships all contain a mix of medical and wellness services,” said Susan Merryman, OhioHealth vice president of communications.

More than 40 medical professionals provided race day coverage at the 2018 OhioHealth Capital City Half & Quarter Marathon (including Dr. Benjamin Bring, who served as medical director of the event), while more than 500 associates and leaders ran and/or walked in the event, with many more volunteering.

“We believe this shows a commitment to not only wellness by associates, but demonstrates a huge show of pride in getting behind an event with our name on it.”