Convenience-store chain ampm is finding success using sports sponsorships to showcase its product offerings, promote its brand personality and engage on-the-go Millennials.

The unit of BP America, Inc. and franchisor of close to 1,000 locations in Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington kicked off the sponsorship push in 2015 with the Los Angeles Dodgers and a branded store in Dodger Stadium.

Pleased with the success of the partnership, ampm this year expanded the sports marketing push with ties to the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Mariners.

Like its partnership with the Dodgers, ampm has opened a branded store in each team’s home venue (Levi’s Stadium and Safeco Field, respectively).

The retailer uses the sponsorships to accomplish three primary objectives: 

  • Showcase the range of products sold through its stores
  • Build awareness of in-store promotions/drive store traffic 
  • Drive brand consideration and affinity

The brand’s “Too Much Good Stuff” tagline plays a key role in the partnerships, with ampm bringing the tagline to life through in-stadium activations and the branded stores.

Each in-stadium location carries upwards of 50-60 products, roughly two to three times the number of items typically sold at stadium concession stands. Products include endemic items (beer, soda, water, salty snacks, etc.), non-endemic items (chocolate bars, other candy, coffee, etc.), and exclusive items.

The retailer sells its proprietary coffee in Dodger Stadium, Good Stuff candy in Levi’s Stadium, and an exclusive energy drink (Rockstar Mojito) in Safeco Field.

While fans are encouraged to stock up at the stadium stores, ampm is using the partnerships to connect with fans, not just sell product.

“It is not about merely providing a transactional relationship,” says Donna Sanker, chief marketing officer, BP Fuels North America, “It’s about providing unique experiences inside of their favorite sports venue, at their local ampm store, or via digital channels like social or our mobile app.”

Those unique experiences often include “Toomgis,” ampm’s “spokesman.” Toomgis (whose name represents “Too Much Good Stuff”) is made up of more than 100 food and beverage products and is intended to represent key brand attributes such as “helpful, friendly, irreverent and sometimes a bit mischievous.”

The brand forged a partnership this year between Toomgis and Dodgers’ third baseman Justin Turner after fans posted comments noting the similarities between the flowing orange beards of both mascot and player.

The retailer leveraged the tie with five humorous social media videos that featured Toomgis sharing his resume with Turner and trying out for various jobs at Dodger Stadium, including bat boy and groundskeeper.

In addition to appearing in the videos, Toomgis also has thrown out the ceremonial first pitch, participated in on-site activations (conversion of the Dodgers’ “Kiss Cam” to the “ampm Snack Cam,” etc.) and distributed coupons when “Good Stuff” happens at a game.

“By having personification of the brand, we find it’s easier for customers to engage with us and share their sense of humor,” notes Sanker.

“The sponsor’s goal has been to translate the idea of Too Much Good Stuff and fulfill Dodgers fans’ expectations around variety, food and fun. I think it’s safe to say the program has exceeded expectations,” said Greg Morrison, the Dodgers vice president of corporate partnerships.

The chain amplifies its activations via Facebook Live, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram (ampm was one of the early adopters of Instagram Stories) and through social media influencers.

The Dodgers partnership also is used to drive store traffic through coupon distribution, in-store events with former players and the sale of exclusive products.

For example, last year ampm became the only location outside of Dodger Stadium where fans can purchase hot prepared Dodger Dogs, the venue’s iconic extra-long hot dog. A bilingual and multi-channel campaign promoted the sponsorship and product across Southern California. 

“The branded store has provided fans at the stadium unprecedented variety, and having hot Dodger Dogs available at ampm brings the stadium food experience to the masses,” says Autumn Nazarian, senior vice president, Spotlight Lead, Mindshare North America. “No matter where fans choose to enjoy the game, ampm is providing new ways to indulge and celebrate the team.”

In a different twist, fans who visit Levi’s Stadium can purchase an ampm sponsored augmented reality souvenir cup. Consumers who download the 49ers mobile app and scan the cup can access team video content.

Fans who purchase the cup also can get 49-cent fountain drink refills at participating ampm locations.

The company sponsors the 49ers and Mariners on behalf of ampm and the ARCO gasoline brand, affording additional marketing opportunities in the stadiums and at the pump.

Sun Never Sets On ampm Sponsorships
In addition to the Dodgers, Mariners and 49ers, ampm focuses on two other sponsorship platforms: The Arizona Cardinals and Alianza de Futbol, around which it sponsors local soccer tournaments in Arizona and California.

The brand partnered with Alianza de Futbol in 2012 to deepen its relationship with the Hispanic community. The sponsorship includes the following components:

  • Sponsorship of soccer tournaments in Los Angeles, Phoenix and San Francisco
  • The ampm Champions League, around which the retailer provides uniforms, branded medals and trophies, registration fees and transportation costs for at least one team in each sponsored tournament
  • In-venue activations across multiple tournaments and qualifying matches
  • Inclusion in media promotions
  • The Too Much Good Stuff Coaching Awards, which recognize two coaches who dedicate themselves to making a difference in the lives of young players and the community at large
  • Radio spots that highlight coaches in the Los Angeles area who give their time to teach kids sports and leadership skills

The brand this year is leveraging the Arizona Cardinals tie with an in-store promotion that rewards fans who visit one of its Arizona stores while wearing the team’s colors.

The retailer also has run social media contests that gave fans the opportunity to win season tickets.

Spotlight is the dedicated sports and entertainment partnerships unit of Mindshare NA, ampm’s media agency of record. (ESP SR publisher ESP Properties and Mindshare share a parent organization, GroupM, the media investment management operation of WPP Group plc.).