Qualtrics Raises $25 Million-Plus For Cancer Research Through NBA Jersey Sponsorship

When enterprise software firm Qualtrics decided to join the NBA’s “patch” sponsorship program, cofounder and CEO Ryan Smith immediately saw the marketing power of a 2 1/2 inch square piece of real estate on the jerseys of pro players. A huge basketball fan and Provo native, the 42-year-old jumped at the chance to partner with the Utah Jazz on the program.

But instead of using the company logo to emblazon the shirts, he turned to Qualtrics’ charity arm, 5 For The Fight, which asks people to donate $5 in the fight against cancer. As Smith was evaluating the advantages of the promotion for raising awareness for Qualtrics, one of his executives and cofounder of the 5 For the Fight Foundation, Mike Maughan, asked Smith if he was “all in” for the charity, which had become a popular slogan in the halls of Qualtrics’ Provo headquarters.

“We really needed our brand out there. It’s hard to make enterprise products well-known,” Smith says, before pushing the marketing benefit aside and proposing what has become the only cause-related jersey patch in the NBA program at an estimated cost of $4 million annually.

“We were going to do the largest marketing spend we had ever done by 3X and we were giving it away to cancer,” says Smith. “The board said ‘Ryan, you have brought some crazy stuff to us, but this is the craziest thing yet.’’’ The deal got signed, and Qualtrics is now more than halfway to its goal of raising $50 million; it extended its jersey partnership in October 2019 for another three years.

The effort is putting a bright spot on the disappointing end to the Jazz season that