NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- NFL quarterback Tim Tebow led the Denver Broncos to a huge upset over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday in the wild-card round of playoff games, but the real winners of the game were likely the ad sponsors featured during the well-viewed game. CBS ( CBS) scored huge in television ratings because of the media hype surrounding Tebow. Between his tendencies to express his Christian faith on the field and secure late-game victories throughout the season -- including the Sunday night game -- it was the most watched Wild Card game in 24 years, the network says.
Smaller companies can use football sponsorships to boost their bottom lines, as Beef 'O' Brady's has.
Yet it was Berkshire Hathaway's ( BRK.A) Geico, Ford ( F), Anheuser-Busch InBev's ( BUD) Bud Light, Weight Watchers ( WW) and PepsiCo.'s ( PEP) Doritos -- even Republican candidate Mitt Romney, among other advertisers -- that probably scored highest, given the large audience viewing Tebow's performance. But what does this mean to small businesses? Football sponsorships and advertising can be a good way to promote brand awareness and Web traffic, as well as increase customer and franchisee acquisitions, but a small business can't just agree to promote itself through any old football game; unless they secure a spot as one of the local cable ads, a pro football game is more than likely not the most effective place for small businesses to spend their advertising dollars. There are other football championships that could be beneficial to a smaller company, though, if a business decides a football sponsorship hits the right targets and goals at all. Smaller clients must be sure a sponsorship plays in a territory they either own in terms of brand awareness or a territory they plan to expand into, says Bernhard Schroeder, a marketing and advertising veteran and the director of the Entrepreneurial Management Center at San Diego State University. He emphasizes that smaller companies should be prepared to implement an integrated marketing campaign that complements the sponsorship. "If you just show up once, that has almost no impact. You have to follow it up with some type of sustained program," Schroeder says.