First, it was Tostitos, then it was Vizio, then it was Battlefrog, and then it was PlayStation.
From 2014 to 2016, the Fiesta Bowl had four different title sponsors for four different games after having Tostitos as the title sponsor of the game from 1996-2014.
During that same time period, the only other New Year’s Six bowls to have their title sponsors changed were the Rose Bowl and the Cotton Bowl, with neither of them seeing the introduction of more than one new presenting partner.
Now, thanks to a new multi-year deal between ESPN and PlayStation, the brand will return after being the title sponsor for both the 2016 and 2017 editions of the game.
Although the Fiesta Bowl — the organization that puts on the game — isn’t the one negotiating the deal, having a partner like PlayStation back for at least the next few years is crucial according to Mike Nealy, the executive director of the Fiesta Bowl.
“We used to have a long-term relationship with a good brand and we were thrilled to have PlayStation. I think there was a sample time there for a couple of years, but the renewal signals that PlayStation is happy and we are happy. What they like to do as far as our local activation and being involved with the community makes this a big win for us and a big win for the community.”
No stranger to video games and esports, the Fiesta Bowl hosted the Overwatch Collegiate National Championship at the beginning of this year. While there might not be an esports component as part of the partnership this year, Nealy wasn’t one to shy away about the future prospects of some sort of tie-in there.
“We aren’t going to do it this year, but it is definitely in the thought process going forward.”
Although there might not be a formalized esports program, PlayStation will be active when it comes to activations, especially around ones that focus on community outreach.
“Throughout the week, they will be in lockstep with us when it comes to activations in the community. The charitable side of our organization is very important to us, so to have a partner that values that is what makes this partnership fit even more.”
— Fiesta Bowl (@Fiesta_Bowl) December 30, 2017
Like other bowl games, since the introduction of the College Football Playoff, the dynamic around New Year’s Six games have changed.
Because of that, Nealy points to an emphasis on getting smarter at what the Fiesta Bowl is doing when it comes to marketing and selling tickets for the game because the game “no longer sells itself.”
Impacted by other macro conditions as well, getting smarter for the Bowl revolves around leveraging more data and insights to make sure that they are able to connect to the consumer base in a way that is relevant to them.
“The pressures are there. Changes at the bowl level certainly have been impacted by the Playoff, but we are fortunate to be one of the pinnacle games. The demand is not the same as it was and so we have to work a little bit harder and a little bit smarter.”
Regardless of whose name is on the bowl or the factors impacting demand, you can always count on the Fiesta Bowl to be a good time.
“We like to have fun and PlayStation is a fun product, we’re a fiesta after all.”