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Lose the Logo Slap: How Sports Sponsorships are Getting More Immersive

By Daniel Braun

There’s long-standing marketing maxim called The Rule of Seven, which states that a person needs to see or hear an ad seven times for a message to really stick in their mind.

The theory came out of the movie industry in the 1930s as the number of promotional pieces that studio researchers decided people needed to encounter before they’d go see a movie.

This was much simpler in the 1930s. There were only so many ways an advertiser could reach their audience; Radio, print, and billboards.

We’re a far cry from the 1930s. Today, advertisers can reach their audience in-venue, on TV, through live streams, on social media, across the web, mobile apps, etc.

As a sports franchise, the challenge can be making these cross-channel touch points valuable to your advertiser. It’s easy to slap a logo on a wall in your stadium, but actually connecting an audience with the brand is where it gets meaningful.

In this post, I’ll to dig into how we’ve seen sponsorships evolve, how you can keep up, and I’ll share some of my favorite examples of how the best in the business are bringing advertisers and fans closer together.

Fans Are Distracted; Meet Them Where They Are

Let’s be honest. It’s 2019 and we live in front of screens.

According to Common Sense Media, American adults spend over 11 hours per day interacting with media.

That is a lot to compete with. And unlike the world of the 1930s movie industry, we now interact with the media we consume. Every 30 days, more video content is uploaded to social media than major broadcast networks have uploaded in the past 30 years.

We interact with brands, events, and every piece of entertainment by participating in the conversation. As sports fans, we show our support on Twitter and Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook.

As a sports franchise, the sponsorship opportunities you offer should bring your advertisers into that conversation, aligning them with the fan to build brand affinity and recall while creating an experience that they won’t forget.

How to Build a 360-degree Sponsorship Package

There are a few key ingredients to building a sponsorship package that captures the voice of the people, and aligns the sponsoring brand to your fans and your team.

1. Strong collaboration between the brand and your marketing team.

The goal is to create a seamless experience for your fan that involves the brand in an organic way. Think native advertising. How are they viewed as a part of the content already being shared?

Your team can enable this by treating sponsors like true partners who know your initiatives. If your goal is to get fans excited about a score or big play, giving away free Taco Bell for the 100th point of 3rd goal is a better way to do that than slapping a logo on a replay.

2. Cross-channel promotion.

A social sponsorship package should be more than just a logo in one place. Where is this conversation happening? Where are you promoting it? Bring the sponsor into the world your fan experiences.

  • Promote the partnership via team social accounts, give the advertiser a reason to get involved. Use the power and reach of the team brand to drive up revenue on the sponsorship deal.
  • Feature the sponsoring brand in an embed of the best posts from your most diehard fans on your website. Make it clear that “The voice of the fan is brought to you by Brand X.”
  • Bring them into your broadcast or live stream. When covering a game, bring the sponsor into that content. Is Lebron James or Jerry Rice commenting on a play? The “Brand X Social Spotlight” can make that a part of the viewing experience.
  • Inspire interaction in-venue. Social sponsorships are strong for one simple fact: We like to be involved. Generate more views of your sponsor’s logo by bringing your in-stadium fans onto the screen in venue, brought to you by Brand X. This keeps people looking up, instead of looking down at their phone.

3. Create an Experience

We love something unique. Create an experience that gets your fans excited before the game that pays off during the game. Inspire them to get involved on social media and truly feel like they’re a part of something. Make it pay off by either gamifying or offering a reward by participating. And most importantly, make it align with what the brand does. Your incentive isn’t a free Papa John’s pizza if the sponsor is Budweiser. That will never make me remember the brand.

4. Involve the Voice of Your Fan

By highlighting fan-generated content, you’re giving credibility to the sponsor. We inherently trust other people more than brands.

I’m more likely to buy something because one of my friends recommended it than I am because of an ad. You can harness this by featuring real people’s posts about what jersey they wear, what their favorite stadium food is, how great of a dancer they are, or what their best memory of a game they attended is. When a brand is connected to something that real? That’s powerful.

Great Examples of 360-Degree Sports Sponsorships

One of my favorite sponsored campaigns in recent years, the Browns Victory Bud Light Fridge is the perfect example of a brand aligning with the initiatives of the franchise in a 360-degree sponsor package. This campaign was promoted cross-channel on the Browns social accounts, online and around the city. It created the ultimate experience for fans after the victory, and in turn, it generated thousands of organic posts involving the voice of the fans.

Warriors #DubLight campaign — a great example of how to transform a sponsorship into a co-branded partnership and incorporate the voice of the fan, amplifying the Bud Light brand through multiple channels.

Coca-Cola is a proud presenting sponsor of everything #SaintsGameday. From in-stadium to digital properties, the Saints and Coca-Cola do a terrific job of including the brand in their initiatives without forcing it.

Love simple sponsor integrations like this that tie back to the play on the field itself and incentivize fans to stay and cheer the entire game.

Conclusion

Attentions are harder to grab than ever, but our ability to reach people with unique cross-channel campaigns can overcome that and not only grab their attention, but keep it.

Keep your sponsorship packages creative, keep them cross-channel, bring the fan into the action, and tie it all back to the team. This won’t only delight your fans, it’ll delight your sponsors.

Tags: Blog

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