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When Two Worlds Collide: The Masters and Natty Light




By Zach Seybert, @zlseybert

Natural Light will host the

Natural Light will host the “Natty Shack” at The Masters in a few weeks. Photo via Forbes/Natural Light.

In a few weeks, golf enthusiasts and sports fans alike will hear the soothing voice of Jim Nantz as he says the trademarked phrase, “A Tradition Unlike Any Other,” signifying the start of golf’s first major — The Masters.

This tournament is highlighted by the picturesque holes at Augusta National Golf Club and has provided many memories of golfers coming into their own with “Masters moments.” The elusive green jacket provided to each year’s winner (and a subsequent invitation to compete in future tournaments) is something that golfers of all ages (PGA, invited amateurs, even junior golfers) aspire for. The weekend kicks off with a par 3 contest, which is not only fun for the viewers, but also the participants, as they get to use “celebrity” caddies (often times the children/spouse of the players, or even actual celebrities, i.e., Niall Horan of One Direction for Rory McIlroy), as well as show off their short game.

A sport rooted in tradition, golf also has its superstitions. A major one surrounding the par 3 contest is that the winner almost never goes on to win the actual tournament. With this being the case, golfers almost always intentionally disqualify themselves by having their caddie putt for them or take a “celebrity” shot.

Read more: Golf and Beer: The Perfect Match

This year’s playing of The Masters will be the first in recent memory without golf legend Arnold Palmer, after his passing last fall.

As one tradition ends, another one is starting up coming from an unlikely source — Natural Light. Although the two brands (The Masters and “Natty” Light) seemingly do not align, the company is looking to change the stigma surrounding it.

Popular among college-aged consumers (above 21 of course), this adult beverage has been known as a cheap alternative for young adults to buy in bulk. As golf looks to grow the game among a younger demographic, Natty is capitalizing on its increased popularity.

During Masters Week, Natty Light will host a hospitality event called the “Natty Shack.” Described as a “unique spin on hospitality for the thousands of 21–27-year-olds who flock to golf’s holy ground,” the invite-only event will include football tailgate-type food, a viewing area for the tournament, live entertainment, and of course, plenty of Natural Light.

In a seemingly surprising, and bold, move to host at an event that oozes prestige and tradition, the brand has hit the ground running in terms of sports sponsorships of late.

Golfer Smylie Kaufman was the first endorser for the brand since Mickey Mantle. Photo via

Golfer Smylie Kaufman was the first endorser for the brand since Mickey Mantle. Photo via

Last year, the company signed pro golfer Smylie Kaufman to its first endorsement deal since 1980, when it signed baseball legend Mickey Mantle. The rising golf star, who is active on social media (@SmylieKaufman10 on Twitter), like any other early-to-mid-20s individual, announced his partnership with an Instagram post of him sitting on a throne made of Natural Light boxes.

Kaufman made headlines with his group of friends, including Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler, on their (hopefully annual) spring break trip to the Bahamas, which included golfing in swim trunks and bucket hats while listening to music, classic ribbing amongst friends, and enjoying a tropical vacation as any group of 25 year olds would.

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For those who golf, or attempt to at least, you are aware of how frustrating, yet oddly rewarding the game can be. This group of individuals who seem to “Make Golf Fun (Again)” aligns perfectly with the Natural Light brand. “As a brand, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. This is why people love Natural Light and identify so closely with it. We don’t try too hard or claim to be anything we’re not,” said Chelsea Phillips, senior director of value brands for Anheuser-Busch (Natty’s parent company), in response to the alignment between the brand and Kaufman.

In addition to its endorsement of Kaufman, the rapidly-growing media conglomerate Barstool Sports has also been promoting the beer with its “Natty Tour.” The Barstool crew hit the road in an appropriately branded RV and went to college tailgates across the country handing out branded material along the way and documenting the entire thing via social media.

When the 2017 Masters Tournament rolls around, golfers and fans will be glued to their TVs so as to not miss any new “Masters moments.” As they sit back and soak in the tradition that the first week in April brings each year, Natural Light is looking to shake up the golf industry and spark an interest in the average fan.

Proud Clevelander. Digital Content and Marketing Specialist for the VIKTRE Career Nework. FOS Contributor since 2016.


Teams and Leagues Cozy Up to CBD Brands

The sports world is beginning to bring CBD companies into the fold, marking a significant milestone for the CBD industry.

Front Office Sports



Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

*This piece first appeared in the Front Office Sports Newsletter. Subscribe today and get the news before anyone else.

As teams and leagues look for emerging partner opportunities, CBD brands are showcasing that they aren’t afraid to spend when it comes to sports partnerships. 

While not really a thought in the minds of professionals more than a year ago, CBD presents both a revenue opportunity and an interesting challenge for teams and leagues.

How did this happen?

Before the enactment of the new nationwide 2018 Farm Bill. there wasn’t much mainstream conversation around CBD. Since then, the category has exploded across both retail and sports.

When the bill passed, it legalized industrial hemp by removing it from the controlled substances list and allowing tribes, states, and territories to establish regulatory structures within their boundaries that allow farmers and ranchers to produce a high-value cash crop while retaining federal farm program benefits that were previously not allowed.

Teams and leagues are starting to find interest…

Just this past week, the Portland Pickles became the first baseball team with a CBD partner.

Before that, the Big3 signed a deal with cbdMD that made the brand the official CBD partner of the upstart basketball league. 

And, ahead of this weekend’s Indianapolis 500, Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced its partnership with DEFY – a CBD-based sports performance drink.

The only problem with this partnership is that the drivers of the car can’t drink the drink due to the fact that CBD is on IndyCar’s banned substance list

Who’s sponsoring what?

Below you will find a list of some of the CBD and cannabis-related partnerships that have been signed recently.

Las Vegas Lights / NuWu Cannabis Marketplace

Big3 / cbdMD

Portland Pickles / Lazarus Naturals

Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports / DEFY

Jonathan Byrd’s Racing / Liquid Gold Processing

RC Enerson / Craft 1861

It’s not just teams and leagues…

While the bigger deals might get more attention, CBD companies have also struck deals with athletes. 

For example, Bubba Watson has a deal with cbdMD, the same brand that is sponsoring the Big3.

Before Watson, Scott McCarron signed an endorsement deal with Functional Remedies, a hemp manufacturing company.

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Are NFL Jersey Ads Next?

Front Office Sports



May 15, 2019; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns linebacker Sione Takitaki (44) runs a drill during organized team activities at the Cleveland Browns training facility. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

*This piece first appeared in the Front Office Sports Newsletter. Subscribe today and get the news before anyone else.

Jersey ads aren’t an unfamiliar sight at NFL practices. Brands like Lecom and Hyundai are visible on the practice jerseys of the Browns and Cardinals respectively.

The one place jersey ads haven’t shown up is in regular season games. 

Could that be changing anytime soon?

Speaking with SI, an NFL spokesman said, “Never say never, but there are no current plans to pursue or explore.”

With what SI estimates to be $224 million in revenue being left on the table by not having patches on the jerseys, why would the league not consider it? 

According to those inside the industry, the NFL is concerned about conflicts of interest between teams who may have patches of competitors of current partners for opposing teams.   

The NBA has found success…

The NBA launched its jersey patch program in 2017 and as of March of 2019, every team in the league found themselves with a patch on their jersey. 

According to Terry Lefton and John Lombardo of SBJ, the patch program has generated more than $150 million for the league.

Another important stat is that of the 30 team patch sponsors, 20 are doing business with NBA teams for the first time.

At this point, not having ads is more unusual…

Even MLB, considered the most traditional of sports leagues in the U.S., has experimented with sponsor patches since 2000. Of the major sports leagues in the U.S., here’s a look at which ones have ads on their game jerseys and which ones don’t. 

NBA: Yes


MLS: Yes

NHL: No 


MLB: Yes (for special occasion games only – Mexico Series etc)

Internationally, teams are cashing in…

While soccer is somewhat different in that the advertising is not just a patch, but the primary part of a team’s uniform, the revenue potential can’t be argued. Here’s a look at what just five brands are paying international clubs, according to The 18.

Emirates / Real Madrid: $80 million per year 

Chevy / Man U: $68 million per year

Rakuten / Barcelona: $60 million per year

Emirates / Arsenal: $56 million per year

Yokohama / Chelsea: $51 million per year

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CohnReznick Sponsors a Dive Inside the Business of Baseball

Accounting firm CohnReznick shows the business of baseball in two video series with MLB, “Business of Baseball” and “Front Office Focus.”




CohnReznick MLB Videos
Photo Credit: Peter G. Aiken/USA TODAY Sports

Accounting firm CohnReznick is taking an authentic approach to its MLB sponsorship. Through a video series called Business of Baseball and Front Office Focus, CohnReznick lends its name to an inside look at professional baseball. The series is produced by MLB Network, where it airs, along with, and CohnReznick’s website.

MLB confirmed CohnReznick as a sponsor of the video series to FOS. The two parties collaborate on ideas, but MLB declined to speak on the sponsorship further.

“Our team really wanted something that was authentic, not just a way to slap our name onto something, but to own something,” says Frank Longobardi, CEO, CohnReznick. “We are able to align some of our core values with what’s being talked about in Business of Baseball and Front Office Focus. That makes us feel good, as we felt we could drive content and value with our strengths.”

READ MORE: MLB Flies Under the Radar With Sponsor Patches

While service-oriented companies have sponsored sports for decades, it’s becoming more common for non-consumer brands to find ways to cut through the clutter,” says Joe Favorito, a sports marketing and communications consultant.

“These companies are tying to something that resonates,” Favorito says. “Consumers have millions of choices. If it comes down to personal choice, they remember the company for who their spokesperson is or the story being told.”

The Business of Baseball series launched during December’s Baseball Winter Meetings, where CohnReznick was the presenting sponsor of the meetings for MLB Network. Over the course of the video sponsorship, there will be approximately six Business of Baseball videos and up to 35 Front Office Focus clips through the season.

“They’re topics, like hospitality and security, that are the same types of things we deal with our clients,” Longobardi says. “We wanted to show similarities of how Major League teams go through some of the same things our clients go through.”

Each of the videos feature commentators and baseball executives. Front Office Focus highlights discussions with executives from the league’s 30 teams about issues ranging from team strategies to club operations, while Business of Baseball looks into how franchises transform the game through analytics and management, but also how they redefine the fan experience.

A recent episode, “The Business of Food,” featured a look at how food experiences now play into a fan’s trip to a ballpark., like a sit-down interview with Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer by CohnReznick Managing Partner Cindy McLoughlin talking about how the game day experience has evolved to include a culinary aspect. The restaurant industry is evolving inside and outside the ballpark.

“When you look at stadiums and games, it’s not just about baseball anymore,” McLoughlin says. “Fans expect an overall experience. People get to stadiums to stand in line, they need to get their Shack Burger.

“That led us to Danny Meyer to really peel back why it’s a benefit to him and how those synergies line up.”

The video topics originated in a brainstorming session featuring CohnReznick’s team and  MLB. The topics center around issues with innovation and analytics to elevate customer experience and retain loyalty. From these conversations, MLB could consider matching a team with a relevant topic.

“It puts us front and center with a really good brand,” Longobardi says of the partnership. “In any business, you want to align yourself with good organizations, and this relationship does that well and connects the right type of people we’re trying to attract, the C-Suite individuals to middle market to small public companies.”

READ MORE: The MLBPA Has Embraced Athlete-Driven Marketing

The sponsorship has allowed CohnReznick to provide clients, potential clients and employees with strong relationship building opportunities at games and events.

“It really has allowed us to spend some time with key clients and be able to spend quality time with our employees and enjoy ourselves,” Longobardi says. “We can more closely align MLB brand with our clients and our staff, and that makes it a unique experience.”

By tying in with behind the scenes content, CohnReznick hopes to resonate with clients beyond just a name on the screen.

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