Sponsorship activity on behalf of person-to-person direct sales companies continues to grow.

This spring, dietary supplement marketer XanGo, LLC will kick off a four-year, estimated $1-million-per-year sponsorship of MLS Real Salt Lake, a groundbreaking deal that includes prominent visibility across the front of the team’s jerseys.

On top of that, Herbalife Int’l, Inc. plans to expand its year-and-a-half-old, low-seven-figure global sponsorship campaign through new partnerships with marathons, soccer teams and other sports and fitness-oriented properties.

Even industry pioneer Amway Corp. has added a new deal. The company last month announced it will pay the City of Orlando $1.5 million over four years for title of the city-owned Amway Arena, home to the NBA Magic.

The team, which controls the naming rights–and which received the bulk of former title sponsor TD Waterhouse’s six-year, $1.7-million-per-year deal–is owned by Amway cofounder Richard DeVos. It is not publicly known whether Amway is paying anything to the team.

XanGo Becomes First Brand On Front Of MLS Jerseys
The four-year-old marketer of XanGo juice, which is derived from the mangosteen fruit, aligned with RSL to support the beverage’s healthy positioning and engage its 600,000 distributors around the world.

“Our brand is all about health, wellness and fitness, which plays into soccer,” said John Digles, XanGo’s senior vice president of sales and marketing. “This sponsorship positions us as a savvy international company.”

The privately held firm will use the deal to motivate its distributors. For example, XanGo will host sales meetings around RSL games and encourage distributors to host clients and prospects at the team’s matches.

It also plans to sell team merchandise and tickets to distributors. “We told the team it will gain 600,000 new fans as a result of the sponsorship. We’re doing all kinds of things to mobilize them as a fan base,” Digles said.

The sponsorship builds on XanGo’s title of Salt Lake City’s XanGo Cup exhibition soccer match. The August tournament, which pitted RSL against Real Madrid, reached 250,000 TV viewers, according to the company.

XanGo will continue to sponsor an annual match between RSL and an international club as part of its new team tie.

Michael Neuman, president of Amplify Sports & Entertainment, negotiated the deal on behalf of XanGo.

Herbalife Sees Sponsorship Success, Plans New Ties
The marketer of nutritional supplements, weight management and other health and wellness products currently sponsors roughly 45 properties in the U.S. and abroad, including the AVP Crocs Tour, the Michelob Ultra London Triathlon, Brazil’s seven-event Trofeu Brasil de Triathlon circuit and Tokyo’s Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Toray Pan Pacific Open tournament.

The company credits the sponsorships with motivating its distributors and making them feel good about the company and its products, said Greg Probert, Herbalife’s president and COO.

Probert points to the large number of sponsored-event branded jerseys and other merchandise sold to distributors as evidence of that enthusiasm. “The fact that we’re moving a lot of units tells me that our distributors are very proud of the brand and our positioning as a healthy lifestyle company. It’s all about motivation, excitement and aspiration, which turns into sales.”

Probert reported several thousand participants at the Asics Moscow Int’l Peace Marathon wore Herbalife apparel. “It was a sea of green.”

The company also has seen positive results from its endorsement deals with pro athletes, claiming many of them have seen success from using Herbalife as part of their health and fitness regime.

“Getting a world class athlete on the product and providing a testimonial is incredibly motivating,” said Probert, noting that some athletes also have become Herbalife distributors.

Herbalife cites the number of distributors who have funded their own sponsorships as another measure of success. Deals include boat races, children’s events, triathlons and other local properties.

“That’s worked out very well,” Probert said. “It gives us a two, three and four times return on our sponsorship investments.”

The company will soon publish a sponsorship workbook for its distributors, which will offer tips on striking deals. The book will include standard contract language, negotiation advice and corporate artwork. “We don’t want them to have a bad experience,” Probert said.

Brian McKinley, director of worldwide corporate strategic alliances, oversees Herbalife’s sponsorship portfolio. Jennifer Guran, senior manager, USA sponsorships & alliances, manages domestic deals. Agency Velocity Sports & Entertainment helps screen and implement ties.