8 Ideas for Winning with Sports

Attention. Select. Recall. Reoccur. Not every sponsorship is a home run or touchdown. It takes an incredible amount of brainstorming, crafting, and evaluating to walk away with a win.

What is the key to success? IEG, a leading organization in sponsorship analysis, insight, valuation, and measurement, says it’s pairing innovation and sport.

Sport offers a substantial and sustainable opportunity to out- innovate competitors by connecting audiences to the things they love on an immeasurable scale. And in ways they never knew were possible.”

mml-logo-flatIEG has developed eight ways to successfully turn sports assets into value-enhancing, consumer- focused ideas. It starts with finding emotion by viewing audiences as people, not demographics, and developing a relationship. NCAA realizes even die-hard basketball fans cannot sit around for two weeks watching continuous March Madness coverage. But they can watch almost every game through the March Madness Live streaming service or apps for iOS, Android, Kindle, and Windows devices. The accessibility allows fans to carry on with their lives, like going to the mall with family, without missing a play.

Values now count as much as value, according to IEG. Purpose is one of the new 4Ps of marketing; build race+against+cancer+web+logoservice into every sponsorship. Subway has signed on as the new title sponsor of Covenant Health’s “Race Against Cancer” in Knoxville. John Dell, a local franchise owner and development agent for East Tennessee explains:

All Subway restaurants are locally owned and operated, so it’s important to us to support organizations that are working to improve the quality of life for members of our community.”

Create great content; bring something new and better to the fan experience. More than 80 teams are engaging fans with in-stadium interactive displays. The feature allows them to use their phone to “have a deeper conversation with their favorite teams, athletes, sponsors, and fellow fans” with “access to exclusive content, promotions, and giveaways,” according to Chantal Tode with Mobile Marketer.


Participation in a sponsorship can promote brands and magnify the marketing value. Southwest Airlines used a Doritos commercial that aired during the Super Bowl to its advantage with this tweet:

Consumers are human. Great stories draw them in and keep their attention. As IEG says, “Every touch point is an opportunity to prove who you are.” Consider the Budweiser commercials that air each year during the Super Bowl featuring the clydesdales and Golden Retriever. The storyline is relatable and emotional, which captivates millions of viewers. This year’s theme was titled “Lost Dog” with an emphasis on #BestBuds.

 

Companies must stay one step ahead: be relevant, be agile, be fast. Launch small ideas and quickly move on. It’s easy to be pushed out of mind, so create memorable moments that give the world something they can’t stop talking about. Remember the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge? Nike tweeted a staged photo of a coin toss that that went viral during the CFP National Championship in January.

Measure what matters, not what’s easy to count. According to IEG, reach and media equivalencies “fail to reveal whether or not a partnership is building market share, brand value, or shareholder value.” Remember to concentrate on outcomes over outputs.

Balance the portfolio to “reveal both conflicting images that dilute brand impact, as well as overlapping strengths and weaknesses.” Visa uses its sponsorships to communicate its credit/debit card payment service is “everywhere you want to be.” From the FIFA World Cup to the Olympics Games, each event plays a different role in the pursuit of fulfilling objectives.

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Content: The Team’s Biggest Challenge

A nail-biting finish for the University of Tennessee against South Carolina on Saturday. The Vols beat the Gamecocks 45-42 in overtime, clinching their first SEC victory of the season. Although the game was difficult, the team’s biggest challenge happens every day off the field.

Organizations must find ways to keep fans engaged. When a team provides content, it generates attention and fan-interest.

A recent Forbes magazine article highlighted Heineken‘s effort to put an umpire chair in the middle of Union Square. The company had volunteers, wanting to win tickets to the U.S. Open, sit and try to quiet passersby.

Brands such as Heineken can no longer rely on just commissioning stale 30-second promotional ads. They have to stand out by producing memorable experiences—both online and offline—that generate emotional connections and help turn viewers into fans.”

Vettel_Bahrain_2010_(cropped)Red Bull is more than just an energy drink. The Austrian company invests a lot of money in extreme sports, like motocross, snowboarding, and cliff-diving. As one blogger wrote, establishing the brand in sport has been the key to success:

There was a clear niche that they could see in action sports that would tie in with their motto: “Red Bull gives you wings”. The real secret to their domination is that Red Bull haven’t just advertised in this market, they have become involved.”

The company sponsors several athletes and hosts multiple sporting events around the world each year. The brand is plastered everywhere: uniforms, equipment, naming rights, publications, pictures, videos, transportation, etc. Another blogger stated Red Bull is great at producing content because it owns and controls distribution channels:

Red Bull’s content success is largely due to staying ahead of the industry—where and how consumers are viewing content—keeping it relevant, and creatively blurring the lines between advertising and content.”

Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 9.54.40 AMTennessee Athletics is great at sending out content via social media. When the team is preparing for its next game, pictures are posted on the @Vol_Football Instagram account counting down the number of hours until kickoff. At the end of each quarter, pictures with the score are posted. When it’s a player’s birthday, a picture of them is posted to recognize their special day.

The initiative is highly effective because even the casual fan feels connected and stays informed by simply following the team on social media. When they “Like,” “Retweet,” or “Share” a post, it shows up in their friends’ timeline and grows the audience.


DIRECTV
released a new advertisement over the summer, but it never aired on television. The video of Peyton and Eli Manning rapping about Fantasy Football is a viral hit with more than 3.8 million YouTube views. The brothers also did a video in 2013, which has 8.5 million views.

Brands need to continue to find innovative ways to create content that is eye-catching and entertaining. Earned media is more powerful and cheaper than paid media.