Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey is taking a community-centric approach to its extended partnership with the MLS New York Red Bulls.

The BCBS licensee last month announced an expanded five-year exclusive sponsorship with the pro sports team. Horizon first partnered with the team in 2014, a sponsorship it previously renewed with one-year contracts.

Jonathan Pearson, Horizon BCBSNJ executive director of corporate social responsibility, points to the team’s executive leadership, results from previous consumer engagement programs and shared commitment to the local community as key drivers behind the expanded partnership.

“We were looking to promote our brand and health message with the Red Bulls, and we thought it would make sense to talk about a larger partnership.”

Horizon also was drawn to the Red Bulls’ growing, diverse audience. The tie provides access to roughly 21,000 fans at each of the team’s 17 home matches, a number that is expected to grow as Red Bull Arena hosts more non-soccer events.

In addition, roughly 45 percent of the team’s fan base is female—a demographic that plays a key role in healthcare decisions—while roughly 38 percent are Hispanic, an audience of growing importance to Horizon and other insurance companies.  

“As one of the most diverse states in the country, the partnership helps support our community initiatives, our company and our foundation, which focuses on population health management around the greater New York City area.”

The partnership also provides another benefit: the opportunity to build relations with a customer. The team purchases insurance from a California BCBS licensee, an account Horizon services. 

“They’re a de factor customer,” said Pearson.

Horizon is activating the partnership in the following ways:

Youth soccer clinics. Horizon is sponsoring youth soccer clinics at the Red Bulls training facility in East Hanover, N.J.

“We bring in disadvantaged children and tie-in our health message with vision, dental and other health screenings,” said Pearson.

Horizon also hosts health expos at Red Bull Arena as well as soccer clinics across the state.

Horizon Healthy Zone. Horizon uses its branded presence in the Red Bull Arena concourse to share healthcare information with both members and non-members. That includes information on health screenings, free nurse hot line and discounts on gym memberships.

Horizon Healthy Goal Concession Stand. Similar to the Horizon Healthy Plate concession stand at TD Bank Ballpark and other minor league ballparks, Horizon sponsors the Healthy Goal Concession Stand in Red Bull Arena. The menu was created in coordination with Horizon dieticians.   

“We list calories per item, which dovetails with our health message.”

Member experiences.  Horizon leverages the Red Bulls with social media-based promotions offering the opportunity to watch a match from the field, check out the press room after a game and other one-of-a-kind experiences.

Horizon also offers discount tickets for all home games throughout the season.

Upper 90 Challenge. Visitors to Red Bull Arena’s “BULLevard” can kick soccer balls into a large goal to win prizes.

Expands Presence In Golf
Horizon this year teamed with RWJBarnabas Health to sponsor PGA Tour pro Morgan Hoffmann. The 26-year-old New Jersey native anchors Healthy Steps NJ, an educational campaign that promotes living a healthy and active lifestyle.  

Hoffmann shares health education tips through social media, online videos and events leading up to the July 25-31 PGA Championship in Springfield, N.J.

RWJBarnabas Health was created in April following the Barnabas Health and RWJ Health System merger.