Episode 12

On this episode of the Press Play Podcast, Derek Gerber sits down with Director of Corporate Sponsorships at the Houston SaberCats Rugby team, Sloane Evans, who has a lot to share about how businesses can improve brand awareness and community involvement through sports sponsorships.

My biggest goal entering this world was ‘How do I help businesses while also helping our team?’


Here on the Press Play Podcast, we love to talk about how the key to quality, effective advertisements is storytelling. Whether it was Beth Stephens emphasizing the impact of authentic storytelling through influencer marketing or Blake Puryear describing how a genuine tone and a good story can help your audience relate to you in email marketing, storytelling has been the center-point of several of our episodes.

On a recent episode of the Press Play Podcast, Sloane Evans joined Derek Gerber to discuss the ins and outs of advertising at sporting events. Sloane is the Director of Corporate Partnerships for the Houston SaberCats Rugby team. She shared several stories of successful ad campaigns while dropping tons of knowledge that applies to the advertising industry as a whole.


One piece of wisdom that stuck out to us here at Explainify was viewing your clients and campaigns as partnerships rather than transactions. Sloane made it clear that distinguishing the difference between partnerships and transactions has been key to her success in her role.

Sloane is in a unique position working for a professional sports team in a league that is still in the process of establishing itself as a premier sports and entertainment destination. As the Director of Corporate Partnerships, she is not only selling advertisement space to promote other businesses, but she is also finding ways to help grow the organization she works for.

For me, my biggest goal entering this world was ‘How do I help businesses while also helping our team?’” (16:51)

On the podcast, Sloane shared a story of one particular campaign that accomplished both of these goals. She was working on a social media campaign sponsored by one of the team’s partners, a local community college. Because of the team’s international ties, the community college was hoping to highlight a few players to promote the school’s international business and study abroad programs.

Through the campaign, the school was able to promote its programs using international players, while Sloane was able to gain more exposure for the team and its players.

Partnerships have also benefited the SaberCats and businesses alike by forging sponsorship opportunities that might not be otherwise possible. Sloane often receives calls from companies hopeful of advertising at the SaberCats stadium, but they have small budgets.

In this case, a transactional mentality wouldn’t allow the two sides to come to an agreement, but a partnership provides different opportunities. Sloane can be a bit more flexible, and even though she isn’t able to lower her rates, she might be able to split up a package to make something that is more affordable. Rather than paying for ad space for a whole season, she might be able to alter the package to provide ad space for four games.

Similarly, the partnership mentality offered new ways to generate revenue while COVID-19 and its aftermath wreaked havoc worldwide. The pandemic forced the team to limit attendance to 50%, affecting advertisement prices and opportunities in the stadium. In a transaction-based environment, this would likely kill most of the previously established campaigns, but focusing on partnerships allowed the team to pivot.

We were fortunate to know in advance that we would be able to have at least 50% capacity in our stadium, but a lot of it was if you are at 50%, how are we going to get that other 50% of your fans, right? How are we going to make up for that 100%? What additions can you do?” (3:16)

Because of pandemic-related regulations, the team had to keep the eight rows of seats closest to the field empty. Sloane arranged for the seats to be covered with advertisement banners, creating more opportunities for partners to advertise to both an in-person and online audience.

Ultimately, prioritizing partnerships over transactions creates opportunities through the increased flexibility and understanding that comes with relationships.

How will you emphasize partnerships to benefit both parties?


(0:34) Introducing Sloane Evans and the Houston SaberCats
(2:43) Utilizing digital mediums to increase ad visibility
(5:13) Partnering with sponsors to meet both party’s goals
(10:50) End-to-end marketing campaigns
(14:51) Myth-busting
(27:16) What’s next for Sloane and the SaberCats?


Derek Gerber
Houston Sabercats
Sloane Evans


Graphic: Listen on Apple Podcasts Graphic: Listen on Spotify



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