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Marketing Awards Case Studies Brand Strategy

How the Milwaukee Bucks secured a new multimillion-dollar jersey patch sponsorship


By Awards Analyst | writer

June 16, 2022 | 3 min read

Bader Rutter and the Milwaukee Bucks won in the Design category at The Drum Awards for Marketing 2022. Here, we find out more about what went into their successful project...

When Harley-Davidson informed NBA team the Milwaukee Bucks it would not be renewing its jersey patch sponsorship, the team had to scramble to find another big brand willing to make a multiyear, multimillion-dollar investment.

The brief

From a revenue standpoint, compared to teams in New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles who have massive TV audiences, Milwaukee is considered a third-tier team. So Bader Rutter needed to flip the way a team’s sponsorship value is assessed and find a way to showcase the Bucks’ considerable global impact.

The idea

Bader Rutter needed to find a way to grab the attention of the chief marketing officers of global brands – and then convince them that sponsoring the Bucks was a huge opportunity and an investment that would create value and revenue for their own brand.

Bader Rutter believed that to do this, it needed to land on these chief marketing officers’ desks with something compelling. So it turned to direct mail. To most creatives, a direct mail, account-based marketing assignment wouldn’t seem the most promising ground for breakthrough solutions. But Bader Rutter’s creative team saw an opportunity to help these chief marketing officers understand the size of the Bucks’ global footprint – sending them one of superstar forward and fan favorite Giannis Antetokounmpo’s size 16 Freak Ones. And not just an off-the-shelf Nike, but one Bader Rutter custom-designed to each chief marketing officer’s brand and brought to life by renowned sneaker artist Noel Alvarado.

Bader Rutter packaged each one-of-a-kind branded shoe in a custom wooden box with a laser-engraved top. Inside, a series of sliding trays revealed first an introduction to each chief marketing officer, then a small video screen set into a miniature hardwood court that played a Bucks video customized with the CMO’s brand. Finally, a bottom drawer revealed the branded Freak One and a Bucks jersey embroidered with a brand patch.

Among the piles of unsolicited pitches these busy executives get every day, Bader Rutter knew these hand-delivered boxes would not be ignored. In all, Bader Rutter reached 24 chief marketing officers with 24 branded shoes and jerseys in 24 branded boxes.

The results

The team signed a new multiyear, multimillion-dollar jersey patch sponsor deal with Motorola, so the effort achieved its original objective. But in addition, the sales pitch Bader Rutter created was so effective that the effort also led to the signing of four other meaningful brand sponsorships, totaling nearly $1m in additional yearly revenue for the Bucks.

This campaign was a winner at The Drum Awards for Marketing 2022. You can see all the winners here.

And check out which of The Drum Awards are currently open for entry.

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