For the first time ever no new sponsors were added to the list of biggest U.S. sponsors in 2016, just one year after a record 21 companies joined the rankings, according to ESP’s annual analysis of companies spending at least $15 million.

In addition, 15 companies on the 2015 list dropped their spending below the $15 million threshold, lowering the 2016 total to 106 companies.

Overall, the rankings appear to reflect a sponsorship marketplace constricted by multiple factors, including competition for dollars from other marketing channels, increased emphasis on activation spending over fee spending, and companies in major sponsor categories such as beverages and packaged goods holding tight to their purse strings in the face of little to no sales growth.

Spending trends for the companies on the list show that only 19 (18 percent) increased sponsorship allocations from 2015 to 2016, while 31 (29 percent) spent less and 56 (53 percent) spent the same year to year.

Also contributing to the list’s contraction: declining NASCAR team sponsorship spends. Six of the 15 companies that left the rankings in 2016 drastically reduced or eliminated NASCAR team spending: Aaron’s, Inc.; The Kraft Heinz Co.; Bass Pro, Inc.; The Clorox Co.; Go Daddy and The Scotts Company LLC.

Meanwhile, positive mobility on the list was not necessarily due to organic spending growth, as the two biggest upward moves in the rankings resulted from corporate mergers. EMC Corp.’s acquisition by Dell Technologies Inc. puts Dell at number 58 (EMC was number 88 in 2015), while Marriott International, Inc. moved from number 68 to number 43 on the strength of its merger with Starwood Hotels & Resorts.

At the list’s highest echelons, even though three of the top four sponsors each cut about $10 million in spending in 2016, the big four remained the same as 2015: PepsiCo, Inc.; Anheuser-Busch InBev; The Coca-Cola Co. and Nike, Inc.

The top 10 remained the same, although the order below the big four changed. Adidas North America, Inc. moved from number seven to number five, while Ford Motor Co. moved from number eight to number seven—primarily due to a new NFL deal. Meanwhile, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc. dropped from number six to number eight—in large part because of the shuttering of one of its NASCAR teams, Michael Waltrip Racing.

Verizon Communications, Inc. and General Motors Co. switched positions at numbers nine and 10, with Verizon moving up mostly thanks to a new NBA partnership.

Individual spending trends among the top 10 were similar to the list overall, with six of the biggest spenders cutting spending in 2016, three spending more and one spending the same.

In the top 20, Under Armour, Inc.—which moved from number 21 to number 18—replaced Sprint Corp., which dropped from number 19 to number 22.

Continuing the pattern of the previous two years, the 11 biggest spenders of 2016 belong to just four categories—beverage, auto, sport apparel and telecommunications. The three categories with the most companies represented among the 106 biggest sponsors also did not change: auto (11 companies); beverage (nine companies, down from 10 in 2015 with the loss of Bacardi U.S.A., Inc. after a one-year appearance); and bank (nine companies).

The spending estimates for the companies on the list reflect amounts spent on sponsorship fees of U.S. properties and the portion of spending on international properties that is directed to the U.S. market.


Top Spender Category Snapshots

Top Auto Sponsors Top Bank Sponsors Top Beverage Sponsors Top Business Technology Sponsors Top Consumer Technology Sponsors Top Credit Card Sponsors Top Food Sponsors
Top Fuel Sponsors Top Insurance Sponsors Top QSR Sponsors Top Retail Sponsors Top Sport Apparel Sponsors Top Telecommunications Sponsors Top Travel Sponsors

Top U.S. Sponsors: Companies Spending More Than $15 Million

Amount Company 2016 Rank 2015 Rank
$360M-$365M PepsiCo, Inc. 1 1
$350M-$355M Anheuser-Busch InBev 2 2
$265M-$270M The Coca-Cola Co. 3 3
$260M-$265M Nike, Inc. 4 4
$195M-$200M Adidas North America, Inc. 5 7
AT&T, Inc. 5
$175M-$180M Ford Motor Co. 7 8
$165M-$170M Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc. 8 6
$155M-$160M Verizon Communications, Inc. 9 10
$145M-$150M General Motors Co. 10 9
$120M-$125M MillerCoors LLC 11 11
$95M-$100M FedEx Corp. 12 12
$90M-$95M Microsoft Corp. 13 12
$85M-$90M Hyundai Motor Co. 14 15
$75M-$80M Bank of America Corp. 15 15
Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. 18
The Procter & Gamble Co. 14
$70M-$75M Citigroup, Inc. 18 15
Under Armour, Inc. 21
$65M-$70M The Allstate Corp. 20 20
$60M-$65M J. P. Morgan Chase & Co. 21 21
$55M-$60M Capital One Financial Corp. 22 23
Comcast Corp. 30
Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC 23
Sprint Corp. 19
State Farm Cos. 23
$50M-$55M American Express Co. 27 23
Bridgestone Americas, Inc. 32
Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc. 23
McDonald’s Corp. 23
T-Mobile 30
$45M-$50M MasterCard Int’l, Inc. 32 23
Nationwide Financial Services, Inc. 32
$40M-$45M American Honda Motor Co. 34 41
Lowe’s Cos. 32
Mars, Inc. 41
Samsung Electronics America, Inc. 32
SAP America, Inc. 32
Shell Oil Co. 41
United Parcel Service 32
Visa 32
Wells Fargo & Co. 32
$35M-$40M Barclays Bank PLC 43 49
Kia Motors America, Inc. 44
Marriott International, Inc. 68
Nissan 56
SIRIUS XM Radio, Inc. 44
Target Corp. 32
Yum! Brands, Inc. 44
$30M-$35M Bose Corp. 50 49
Delta Air Lines, Inc. 49
Diageo North America, Inc. 44
Exxon Mobil Corp. 56
The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. 49
New Era 68
Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. 49
United Continental Holdings, Inc. 44
$25M-$30M American Airlines 58 56
BMW of North America, LLC 56
Dell Technologies Inc. 88
Enterprise Holdings, Inc. 56
Kroger 68
MetLife, Inc. 56
Nestlé USA, Inc. 49
Oracle 56
Papa John’s Int’l, Inc. 56
PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. 56
The Swatch Group Ltd. 68
Unilever United States, Inc. 49
$20M-$25M 3M Co. 70 68
AdvoCare International, L.P. 88
BP America, Inc. 56
Charter Communications, Inc. 56
Chevron Corp. 68
DraftKings, Inc. 68
Heineken N.V. 68
The Hershey Co. 68
IBM Corp. 68
Monster Beverage Corp. 68
Red Bull North America, Inc. 68
Sunoco, Inc. 68
U.S. Bank 88
Volkswagen AG 68
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. 88
$15M-$20M BBVA 86 88
Burger King 68
Caterpillar, Inc. 88
Chick-fil-A, Inc. 88
The Emirates Group 88
General Electric Co. 88
Hilton Hotels 88
Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. 88
LG Group 88
Lucas Oil 88
Macy’s, Inc. 88
Mondelēz International, Inc. 88
Montres Rolex S.A. 88
NRG Energy, Inc. 88
Quicken Loans, Inc. 68
Sherwin-Williams Co. 88
Sony Corp. of America 68
Stanley Black & Decker, Inc. 88
Subway Restaurants 88
VF Corp. 88
Zurich American Insurance Co. 88