Sports Marketing

Why Acrisure is splashing its name on venues from coast to coast

From California to Pennsylvania, the financial company has made big moves to increase brand awareness.
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Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

4 min read

When Shakespeare wrote “What’s in a name?”, he probably wasn’t thinking about brand awareness. But when insurance and fintech company Acrisure got to thinking about brand awareness early last year, it was all about name recognition.

The insurance brokerage had recently gone through a period of growth via acquisitions, and had also started building out its DTC business, according to Chief Communications and Marketing Officer Elliott Bundy.

The challenge? The smaller companies it acquired “had a lot more brand equity in their communities than Acrisure, because no one would have known what Acrisure was,” he said. “For the first time in the company’s history, we made a decision that we were going to spend time, resources, and money on building an overall Acrisure brand.” Part of that involved naming rights.

It hasn’t been all rainbows and sunshine—or should we say slam dunks and touchdowns—but Bundy said Acrisure’s bet on naming rights has so far produced “impressive results.”

Hold the ketchup

Last year, the company locked in a 10-year naming rights deal for an entertainment and sports venue in SoCal, a move that “made strategic sense,” according to Bundy, given that its largest concentration of clients is in California. It also acquired the naming rights for the main entrance of Long Island’s UBS Arena “The Acrisure Great Hall.”

But it was the company’s decision to take over the naming rights to the home of the Pittsburgh Steelers, long known as Heinz Field, that raised eyebrows—and some backlash.

The change wasn’t as random as it may have seemed: Thomas Tull, a shareholder in both the Steelers and Acrisure, put the opportunity on Acrisure’s radar around June of last year.

The deal, reportedly worth more than $150 million, or about $10 million a year for 15 years, came together in just a couple of weeks. “Once we became aware of it, we jumped on it,” Bundy told us.

Fan acceptance of the new stadium name, however, is coming more slowly. When it was first announced, some fans started a petition to change it.

The Acrisure team wasn’t entirely surprised by that reaction and has taken several steps to try to integrate itself with the Pittsburgh community since, according to Bundy. For instance, Acrisure set aside a block of tickets that it gives to local charities like the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Pittsburgh and is working on community-based projects with the Steelers.

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The brand also set up a tent at training camp, where fans were able to stop by and ask questions, and has partnered with “Steelers-adjacent properties” like the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and influencer Pittsburgh Dad to create content, according to Bundy.

“We fully recognize that for as passionate a fan base as the Steelers have, this wasn’t going to be the easiest of changes, but I would say that’s also equally why it was appealing to us,” he said. “Even if the initial reaction was skeptical, I would much rather have our brand partner with people who care than have it not be a thing they noted at all.”

Are you Acri-sure?

For that reported $150 million, you bet Acrisure is tracking its return on investment.

The company is looking at “overall media value,” including comparing earned media mentions to what it would have to spend to get that same level of press, Bundy said. Before signing the deal, Acrisure brought in a third-party firm to estimate what the equivalent media value might be for a regular NFL season, and is already surpassing those expectations. The company is also conducting brand-awareness surveys among its target audience of small businesses.

“I can’t go into specific numbers, but it’s having the desired effect in terms of the conversion of brand awareness, starting from essentially zero, into client interaction, into conversions, and revenue,” Bundy said.

For instance, some existing customers of the insurance agencies that Acrisure acquired are starting to use the company’s own products as well, “so kind of an internal cross-sell, which is a result, we feel, of that increased brand awareness,” he said.

Acrisure is supporting its naming rights initiative with targeted brand-awareness campaigns in the form of programmatic buys across websites and platforms like Facebook and Instagram, Bundy added.

Acrisure is unlikely to take over any more major stadium naming rights this year, given the scope of its investments last year, Bundy said, but its marketing efforts aren’t necessarily slowing down.

“We’re definitely concentrating on continuing the digital foundation around brand awareness that we started last year,” Bundy said. “Increasingly this year, that’s going to be advertising that shifts to more product-focused advertising, less about just who Acrisure is, and more about the products we offer.”

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