As we move into 2019 we are starting to see the absolute cementation of sports sponsorship leading the way in terms of sports marketing. Brands have well and truly moved into the forefront, completely dominating the narrative on social media during key sporting events.
More and more amounts of money are being put into marketing with sports personalities, athletes or sports events. We live in a world that’s full of advertising, but what sports offer is invaluable – times where real-life emotions are at an all-time high. With emotion comes possibility.
Alongside this, we’ve seen the continuous decline of TV sports and in turn the inevitable rise of Esports, especially with new vertical brand activations becoming ever-more frequent.
So, what else should you look out for this year? What can you do to put yourself at the forefront of the sports marketing industry?
The old, simple times of measuring the success of sponsorships by impressions and logo placements are gone! People are realising that they just don’t quite add up in the new digital-first era.
Moving forward to incentive-based sponsorship models, brands are providing a base compensation package for the team/league/event pairing this with different tiers of rewards that are only triggered by activation and performance.
Not only does this encourage more creative partnerships, but it means that sponsorship requires verified measurement to ensure activations drive both engagement and results for everyone involved.
Of course, we will still see some traditional sponsorship activations in the background of social posts, but brands are really digging their nails into more strategic, intentional logo placements and mentions within social campaigns.
There is, of course, a vast difference in the amount of value generation from a logo in the background of a social post compared to that of a creative campaign that drives fan engagement around the brand.
Examples of these campaign types include branded game score posts, starting line-up announcements and highlight reels.
There’s been quite a lot of resistance to the rise of the esports industry, especially from major brands right at the beginning. But now, we’re seeing brands fully embrace and start to capitalise on the potential of esports.
Pay television has been at the heart of revenue growth for circa 20 years now, but it’s becoming increasingly evident that this is being disrupted. Tech giants such as Facebook and Amazon are really challenging traditional sports media, what with Facebook acquiring the rights to the Spanish soccer league, ‘LA Liga’ for the Indian Subcontinent.
The internet, in general, has globalised fan bases for sports stars and teams, meaning that broadcast models need to be adjusted to suit. Fans want and expect to be able to access everything from any location. Fan freedom and flexibility should be a priority.
Alongside the rise of esports, Netflix, Amazon, and co have been rolling out some club specific behind the scenes documentaries, really capitalising on the emotions and dedication of fans around the world, giving them an exclusive look into their team. From Sunderland ‘Til I Die on Netflix, to the All of Nothing series on Amazon featuring The Dallas Cowboys to Manchester City. Building on loyalty that’s already well embedded and providing a new and exciting way to connect with fans, we are likely to see a whole lot more of this, this year.
Teams are looking at more and more creative ways to utilise social media to their advantage. Really pushing the boundaries of what’s expected of their relevant sport. For example, brand new club Inter Milan CF from David Beckham to Miami, focus on the colour pink, inspired by the city’s famous sunset. They have connection and emotion at the forefront of all of their activities. Themes of family, togetherness and heartfelt sincerity, this level of authenticity are the prime example of how all sports teams should be approaching their campaigns.
Who doesn’t love a good story? There’s a reason that brands who invest in a little bit of storytelling magic seem to generate a whole load of attention. Creativity is a must – but not at the cost of authenticity!
A prime example of this is Nike after the Russia World Cup, utilising the euphoria in France for the ‘We Won It In France’ campaign. Taking a focus on the fact that many of the key players began playing by playing in the streets, they simply refocussed the win saying that the title belongs to the whole of France. That YouTube video was viewed by millions of people in an incredibly short amount of time.
The complete opposite of the much-used ‘watering can’ principle, instead of ‘one message for all’, it’s now the ‘right message for every target group’. Varying over the different platforms from Facebook to Snapchat, Instagram to Twitter, managers much now define exactly who should see what message based on their location, demographics, and interests.
With all that in mind, it’s going to be one hell of a year! We’re excited and you should be excited too! But, if it all seems a little bit daunting, then why not get in touch? We’d be happy to work with you and make sure that you’re capitalising on an incredible connection with your fans in the digital world.