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MLB to Allow CBD Sponsorship

Agency principals, MLB team marketers, and of course, those at CBD brands all heralded last week’s decision by baseball to allow CBD sponsorships as long overdue, and a move that will catalyze a domino effect across sports. Now they have to figure how much this unfamiliar category is worth.

CBD marketers desperately need the reach, influence and power of sports as a legitimizer for their products, often conflated with recreational psychoactive pot.

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“Absent the FDA or Congress regulating the CBD industry, MLB saying they are allowing CBD sponsors just gives us big credibility,” said Charlotte’s Web CEO Jacques Tortoroli. “It will help consumers’ perception of the quality and effectiveness of CBD. … We’re prohibited by the FDA from talking directly about some benefits, so education is huge for us and the industry.”

How much they are willing to pay for that, especially to be among the first few deals, is the question being asked across every pro teams’s sales department, not only those in MLB.

Navigate recently did a study to assess the potential of the CBD category for the Chicago Cubs and five other MLB teams. President Jeff Nelson said that research indicated the potential for a handful of teams to sell seven-figure deals “tied to assets, especially if it’s a uniform patch deal.”

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Echoed Alex Seyferth, Cubs corporate partnerships vice president, who said he’s already talked to several CBD brands, “We are really intrigued about the potential for the category, especially if you are a first mover, so MLB’s efforts there should really help. It has potential to be a top category.”

“I would bet half the teams will have deals in place for next season,” said Troup Parkinson, Boston Red Sox executive vice president of partnerships, adding that CBD brands have been knocking on his door for two or three years. “It would be aggressive to think of this as something like crypto at its beginning. It’s a top-10 category, but maybe only a handful of sizable ones across baseball. … We won’t rush, but we should have a substantial deal by next season.”

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The other big stick-and-ball properties have been meeting with CBD brands for two or three years, but have been reluctant to grant sponsorship rights. Now, they are expected to follow suit.

“We’ve all been learning about this category since before the pandemic,” said a business development executive at one of those leagues. “There was a taboo, but that’s over.”

MLB to Allow CBD Sponsorship

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