Nothing’s quite as contagious as team spirit. It’s the feeling you get when you’re standing in a crowded stadium and cheering for your team alongside thousands of like-minded fans. Savvy marketers thrive on the opportunity to gain valuable brand exposure with the large crowds who attend the biggest sporting events and participate in lively tailgating parties before and after the game.

A Popular Pastime

Data show that every year between 20 and 50 million Americans tailgate in stadium parking lots, spending more than $35 billion on food, beverages and supplies in the process. Promotional products can and do play a huge part in these tailgating festivities, from can coolers and stadium cups to grilling equipment and products that store food and keep it hot or cold. The possibilities for tailgating-related promotional products are endless.

“Everyone loves a tailgate of some sort, whether it’s a professional sporting event, concert, high school athletics or just a local community event,” says Dan Edge, director of sales for Newark, New Jersey-based supplier Peerless Umbrella Co. “These are times for useful products that people want and will use, thus their logos will be front and center for all to see.” 

Kevin Hagan, vice president of sales for St. Louis, Missouri-based supplier Incentive Concepts, says tailgating provides an opportunity for branded products to spread a company’s message to avid sports fans and build brand loyalty.

“Clients can utilize promotional gifts to capitalize on fans’ support of their favorite team,” Hagan says. “Adding a brand’s logo to a portable grill, tailgating table or bag toss game will keep the client’s name and message front and center.”

Tips For The Pitch

Murray Siegel, director of marketing for Baltimore-based supplier Towel Specialties, says distributors can help their clients convert the popularity of tailgating parties into brand loyalty opportunities by using promotional products.

“Distributors should present products that have practical uses, both at the tailgating event and around the house,” Siegel adds. “That way, they’ll get exposure during and after the event. The right products will last longer because the recipient may consider the product a souvenir or memento from a fun event.”

Specific tips for distributors who want to pitch a tailgating-themed campaign include leveraging virtual samples for idea generation, Edge says. “Ask your suppliers to create mock-ups for you,” he adds. “It’s an easy and less expensive way to show what the brand will look like on various items. Chairs, tables, hammocks and pop-up tents are all prime for tailgating and a virtual sample is a great way to help sell this idea.” 

Hagan says one way to help ensure that a sales pitch is successful to a client interested in a tailgating-themed campaign involves having a wide breadth of products, everything from portable grills to backyard games. “Asking questions, understanding the client’s goals, and developing solutions-oriented recommendations are also important,” he adds. “These are the keys to earning the business.”


1. LSU Tigers
Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge

2. Ole Miss Rebels
University of Mississippi, Oxford

3. Wisconsin Badgers
University of Wisconsin, Madison

4. Florida Gators vs. Georgia Bulldogs
University of Florida, Gainesville/University of Georgia, Athens

5. Tennessee Volunteers
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

6. Penn State Nittany Lions
Penn State University, State College, Pennsylvania

7. Alabama Crimson Tide
University of Alabama

8. Iowa Hawkeyes
University of Iowa, Iowa City

9. Nebraska Cornhuskers
University of Nebraska, Lincoln

10. Michigan Wolverines 
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Source: College Football Fan Index


1. Buffalo Bills
New Era Field––
Orchard Park, New York
The fiercely loyal fans and rural, small-town location make for a more personal experience.

2. Green Bay Packers
Lambeau Field––
Green Bay, Wisconsin
It's famous for its Tundra Tailgate Zone next to the stadium that brings together live music, food, beer and huge monitors so tailgaters don't even have to buy tickets.

3. Denver Broncos
Mile High Stadium––Denver, Colorado
Broncos fans are creative about their tailgating digs setting up in converted school buses––some with rooftop patios––limos and in covered patios build onto the beds of pickup trucks.

4. New England Patriots
Gillette Stadium––
Foxborough, Massachusetts
Patriots fans are a hardy bunch, coming out even in snowstorms to carry on their tailgating traditions that include clam chowder and all varieties of the local catch.

5. Cleveland Browns
FirstEnergy Stadium––Cleveland, Ohio
Quirky culinary traditions set tailgating apart for Browns fans––such as beer-can chicken (a can of beer is tucked into the chicken cavity before roasting) and spiked cupcakes.

6. Miami Dolphins
Hard Rock Stadium––
Miami Gardens, Florida
The new stadium worked with Uber to create an "Uber Tailgate" experience for fans in a nearby parking lot. 

7. Houston, Texans
NRG Stadium––Houston, Texas
Houstonians are serious about their barbeque––even when tailgating––so you'll see lots of fancy mobile smokers and beef brisket.

8. Chicago Bears
Soldier Field––Chicago, Illinois
Soldier Field offers several parking lots for tailgating before the game, including some family-friendly ones. There are a lot of food choices too, but the favorite is the famous Chicago hot dog, of course.


9. Philadelphia Eagles
Lincoln Financial Field––Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Eagles fans are hugely dedicated to their team––so much so that they reportedly burn a jersey from the opposing team.

10. Minnesota Vikings
U.S. Bank Stadium––Minneapolis, Minnesota
Despite freezing temperatures during football season, Vikings fans come dressed for the part wearing horned helmets and carrying toy swords and shields.


Get the party started with the all-in-one Music Vacation, a portable set that includes two chairs, a cooler, umbrella and speakers. Perfect for tea (or tequila) for two.

AAA Innovations   /   PPAI 110972   /


Made of lightweight and durable 420D polyester with a PEVA lining, the Agoura Insulated Cooler with Side Frame is a portable, easy-to-carry, must-have for any tailgating party. This cooler features a large, 36-can main zippered compartment, a front pocket and a collapsible side frame that helps keep the bag in place when open.

Logomark, Inc.  /  PPAI 110898  /


This rugged, charcoal hibachi-style grill is perfect for picnics, tailgating, camping or patio. A draft door regulates the heat, and coals are accessible behind a flip-down door. The grill has two adjustable heights. Made in USA.

Incentive Concepts  /  PPAI 212912  /


Perfect for brands that want to target tailgaters with some pre-game marketing to heighten their anticipation, the All-New Official SEC Tailgating Cookbook gives readers more than 100 new recipes to try. Compiled by the editors of Southern Living, each Southeastern Conference school is profiled with custom menus, photos, facts and trivia. The book also includes tailgating tips for starting the grill and keeping food safe outdoors as well as humorous Southern tailgating rules.

The Book Company  /  PPAI 218850  /


Tailgating partiers will happily feast on the goodies in the Java Board with Gourmet Selections, which includes a variety of delicious treats—cheeses, nuts, sausages, olives, crackers, cookies and more—to get any tailgating party rolling. It comes with an earth-friendly bamboo cutting board that can be fire-branded with the client’s logo for enduring brand impressions. Long after the gourmet treats have been enjoyed, the cutting board will be a lasting reminder of your gift.

Maple Ridge Farms  /  PPAI 114165  /


When tailgaters can’t decide whether to bring a blanket or a cushion to the big game, the Stadium Blanket/Cushion lets them bring both. Perfect for sitting on damp bleachers and staying warm and toasty on a chilly day, this blanket also zips together to make a comfortable stadium seat cushion. It includes a front slash pocket and shoulder strap for easy carrying.

Pro Towels  /  PPAI 112755   /


What’s a tailgating party without ice-cold beverages? Pack your cans to-go in the rolling Soft Trolley Cooler, the perfect complement to game day. The cooler’s trolley handle makes carrying the drinks a breeze and the large front pocket and two side pockets give you lots of room for other storage.

Peerless Umbrella Co.  /  PPAI 112666   /


Weighing in at just over three pounds, the Wave Rider Beach Chair is lightweight but can support up to 300 pounds. The chair’s backrest features a pocket that is perfect for storing a magazine, cell phone and other small accessories. The seat is made from a durable mesh fabric designed to breathe and keep you cool.

Towel Specialties   /   PPAI 113150   /


This Promotion’s Got Grill

A college athletic program was holding a fundraising drive to raise money for stadium upgrades and new player uniforms, and organizers wanted a thank-you gift for alumni who donated a certain dollar amount or more. The promotional products distributor recommended the Weber Smokey Joe® Charcoal Grill because of its premium design and lightweight portability. The fundraising results were more successful than the college originally anticipated, and the client was very pleased. 

Source: Beacon Promotions

Perfect for toting to a tailgate party, the Weber Smokey Joe® Charcoal Grill comes in a 14.5-inch portable size but doesn’t skimp on features. This charcoal grill includes a porcelain-enameled bowl and lid, glass-reinforced nylon handle and triple nickel-plated cooking grate.

Beacon Promotions  /  PPAI 113702  /


Tailgaters can take a taste of home with them anywhere they go with the Premium Carry Bag, built for Smokey Joe® series portable grills. This tailgate carry-on-the-go bag makes it easy to travel with taste. Pack up your portable grill and hit the road, Jack, or rather, Joe, with this bag built for fun.

Weber-Stephen   /   PPAI 407334   /


Brittany Glenn is a Dallas, Texas-based writer and a former associate editor of PPB.