Based on the great success of 'The Protectinator' which allowed you the readers to pick the players you wanted to protect in the 2010 MLS Expansion draft, we are proud to announce 'The Sponsorinator'. Created by Hot Time in Old Town's very own Mark Rogers, The Sponsorinator seeks to find the answer to 'what name would the fans like on the Chicago Fire jerseys in 2011... and beyond?'. If you need more information on the candidates before making your final decisions, there is a brief description for each of the 21 companies below. We decided to go generous and give you 4 votes to spread around contenders. Now in that great Chicago fashion, we encourage you to vote early and vote often.
Abbott Laboratories - Founded in 1888 in Chicago with headquarters in North Chicago, this pharmaceutical giant might want to boost one of their brands like Ensure. Perhaps they could spare us the inevitable jokes that would come with that and use the full company name as was intended by founder Dr. Wallace Calvin Abbott.
Ace Hardware - Founded in 1924 in Chicago with headquarters in suburban Oak Brook, Ace Hardware is the corner hardware store many of us grew up with. Home Depot and Lowe's have made a dent in Ace's profits but from Howard in the north to 138th in the south, the city is still dotted with local neighborhood Ace's and many Chicagoans will not go anywhere else for their hardware needs.
ALDI - This is a German company with no natural Chicago connection other than having some stores here. However, ALDI was the #49 advertiser in the world in 2009 and they already work with the Fire on goalie save promotions.
Allstate Insurance - Spun-off from Sears Roebuck in 1931, this company has always been Chicago and is headquartered in suburban Northfield Township. They certainly have the advertising dollars and if they think they know Mayhem, wait till they make their way over to the fans in Section 8. You do wonder if a soccer team should be sponsored by a company whose slogan is "You're in Good Hands" though.
Aon - The company headquarters are not only located in downtown Chicago, the building where they work is named the Aon Center. They already sponsor Manchester United but the language for their sponsorship speaks highly of Manchester United's global brand. Would Aon be up for helping to build the global identity of the Chicago Fire?
Boeing - While founded in Seattle in 1916, Boeing realized if they wanted to continue to be truly global players, they needed to upgrade their digs in 2001 and move to Chicago. They could celebrate their 10 year anniversary of embracing global Chicago by embracing Chicago's team in the 'global sport'.
Corn Products International - The headquarters for CPI are just 10 miles from Toyota Park. The Chicago Fire are right in the heart of corn country. One of CPI's main products, high fructose corn syrup, is under attack and they might be looking to get some positive association. I personally would welcome a corn logo on this team's jersey because Chicago owes so much of its success to the bounty of the Midwest.
Goose Island - This Chicago brewery has rapidly expanded in the past 5 years to the point that you can get Goose Island almost anywhere in the continental 48 states and even in the UK. Now that the distribution is fully in place and sorted out, it might be time for Goose Island to make sure soccer fans everywhere know their name.
Groupon - The hottest company in the news right now, even hotter for turning down a $6.5 billion dollar offer from Google. Founder Andrew Mason seems committed to keeping Groupon in Chicago and if they are turning down $6.5 billion dollars, perhaps there is some cash lying around that could go toward a unique advertising opportunity in the home town. It could be the perfect partnership as Groupon would be a major coup association for both the Fire and the MLS and MLS fans seem to be right in Groupon's demographic sweet spot.
GrubHub - Another website company founded right here in Chicago, GrubHub is currently undergoing major expansion. Every city they have listed on their website will feature a 2011 MLS squad in their area except for San Diego. Groupon may be the 'hot name' but GrubHub could certainly aid their efforts in places like Portland and Seattle by getting their name out in the open without having to do a full TV blitz. If they are supporting the Chicago team time in the meantime, it's a win-win all-around.
McDonald's - The first one might have started in California but McDonald's became McDonald's when Ray Kroc built the 9th McDonald's in Des Plaines, IL and took control of the company soon after in the 1950's. Today McDonald's has it headquarters in Oak Brook, IL. If McDonald's supported the team, would you be lovin' it?
Northern Trust - One of the few companies to be founded in the Loop in the 1800's and still be headquartered in the Loop to this very day, Northern Trust is a classic Chicago story of humble roots turning into an international powerhouse. Would the 1889 company founded by Byron Laflin Smith be up for supporting the CF97 tradition?
Portillo's - This Villa Park founded and now Oak Brook headquartered restaurant chain is probably too local to fully maximize the national attention the Chicago Fire sponsorship would bring, but it is a popular choice of the fans. I will say that I do enjoy a Portillo's Chicago Dog much more than anything at McDonald's.
Old Style - The classic choice of many Midwesterns since 1902, this brew is actually a special offering by the Pabst Brewing Company. Now that PBR is well known as the 'ironic' cheap beer from coast to coast, perhaps the company would like to extend the Old Style brand in its place for those who refuse to drink PBR. Regardless of who sponsors, I think it would be cool to see the words 'Old Style' on the Fire jersey.
Orbitz - The discount travel website giant has its headquarters right in the Chicago loop. They drop advertising dollars left and right. Soccer fans tend to have a more international outlook on things so it would be right to assume they travel more, right? Whatever the case may be, we know that MLS tickets cost less than the four other major sports in America. MLS fans are always looking for a good deal.
SEIU - The purple ocean is based in Washington, D.C. but they are the fastest growing union in the United States. Putting their name on a jersey might seem like a stretch but it would fit in perfectly with the 'New Media' campaign that explores non-traditional forms of advertising to expand their base.
Sears - While they may not flex their muscle quite like they did back in the days when catalogs were still a big deal, the Hoffman Estates company still has some punch. After a rough decade to start off the millennium and a new emphasis on local living, now might be the perfect time to start a new campaign that includes the Chicago Fire jersey.
Sony - There is no Chicago connection but Sony might want to get PlayStation 3 into the jersey game after the success of the XBOX 360 Seattle Sounders jersey sponsorship. Fire vs. Sounders would add a whole new meaning to the term 'console wars'.
Toyota - They already sponsor the park the Chicago Fire play in, why not go all out and sponsor the jerseys? The dialogue is already there. All that needs to take place is a deal.
Walgreen's - From one store on the south side of Chicago to becoming the nation's largest drug store chain, Walgreen's is another Chicago success story. The headquarters is located in north suburban Chicago but perhaps they would like to nod to their south side roots by sponsoring the red shirt whose home is in Bridgeview.
Weldbend - If the name sounds familiar but you can't place it, that would be because this company is located right next to Toyota Park. You have undoubtedly seen the Weldbend sign dozens of times if you have been a loyal fan in the past. It seems like it would be a natural partnership and I'd love to enter something like 'Weldbend Land' which would take up a large stretch of Harlem Avenue.