Major League Baseball (MLB) is one of the world’s most beloved games. Over the years, it has evolved—both on the field and off it. While some have loved the more recent changes to pitch clocks and LED signage in stadiums, others are still adjusting to the game’s new look.
Another of the most notable developments in recent years has been the more widespread introduction of MLB jersey patches as a marketing tool for brand partnerships.
Keep reading to dive into some of the Relo Metrics team’s latest and most robust datasets that further explore the impact of MLB jersey patches on brand exposures and highlight the best practices for maximizing their value.
The Impact of MLB Jersey Patch Brand Exposures
When it comes to generating powerful screen time for brand partners, MLB jersey patches have taken a big lead among the four major U.S. sports leagues that utilize this advertising asset. Based on Relo Metric’s data, the reasons for this are twofold: First, the extended duration of MLB games; second, the strategic positioning and size of these patches, which make them visible from distant camera angles.
Unlike the NBA and NHL jersey patches, which are often only visible on zoomed-in camera angles during stoppages of play, the MLB patches consistently garner recognition throughout the game, whether it's during at-bats, during cutaways between plays, or on player profiles.
This trend is even more notable when compared to the fact that, despite the MLS having the largest surface area for jersey patches among the four leagues, the exposure that soccer jersey branding receives is diminished due to fewer stoppages of play.
Relo’s own data also points to the relatively high media value performance (MVP) score of MLB jersey patches, a metric used to measure patch exposure, which clearly indicates their dominance in professional sports.
Best Practices for Using MLB Jersey Patch Advertising
Brands and their partners should focus on several key best practices to maximize the value of their jersey patches:
Keep Jersey Patch Designs Simple for Bigger Effect
Jersey patch designs play a significant role in their visibility and impact. Keeping the designs simple, uncluttered, and visually appealing can make a substantial difference in broadcast exposure.
Like with LED signage, an overly busy design and a lack of deep color contrast can lead to decreased visibility of jersey patches on TV screens and, in turn, lower performance.
The Smaller the Character Count, the Bigger the Impact
Relo’s own data has shown that there's also a strong negative correlation (-0.70) between the character count of a jersey patch and the duration of brand exposure it receives.
This translates to shorter, more concise patch designs having a bigger impact in terms of screen time and MVP. Teams and brands that have opted for patch emblems or short-length creatives are reaping more significant benefits in brand visibility. Size, boldness of text, and contrast all contribute to jersey performance, but brands must understand the limitations of the jersey patch.
Owned Images Lead to Big Social Media Performance
As with every sport, the MLB’s reach extends far into the social media world. This means that the use of MLB jersey patches on social media cannot be understated.
Owned images—those directly controlled by the teams—empower jersey patches to be the top asset for many teams. For example, Relo data shows that teams with jersey partnerships are generating 60 percent of their total social media value (SMV) from images, while those without partnerships are lagging at 50 percent.
Ultimately, the jersey patch is proving to be a pivotal asset for 76 percent of image posts on earned media accounts, significantly increasing their sponsor value benefit.
Focus on Jersey Patch Integration for Player-Focused Images
Similarly, social media content in the sports world is overwhelmingly player-focused. To generate additional value from jersey patches, brands and teams need to focus on identifying methods to seamlessly integrate them into player-centric images.
For example, giving fans access to candid moments with players or celebrating victories with strategically used patch placements helps create positive memories and drives higher engagement.
Take Your Sponsorship Acumen to the Next Level
There’s no doubt that MLB jersey patches have emerged as a powerful tool that provides significant exposure and value in sports marketing—especially when executed using the above best practices.
By keeping jersey patch designs simple, optimizing character count, leveraging owned images, and integrating patches into player-focused content, MLB teams and their sponsor partners can further enhance their brand's presence, drive up MVP, and boost positive fan engagement.
As we look to the future of MLB coverage online, in stadiums, on streaming, and on traditional broadcasts, it’s clear that the use of jersey patches is poised to play an even more prominent role in the world of sports marketing.
Want to learn even more about the current state of MLB sponsorship as the beautiful game adjusts to new rules and guidelines? Then make sure to download our data-packed report, The 2023 State of MLB Sponsorship, here: