Published on June 22, 2015 by Cameron Kostoff  

Sponsors Should Focus on Improving the Fan Experience

Hallie Johnston, the group account director of Sports Sponsorships at Momentum Worldwide says, “The real priority for brands should be engaging fan participation in their sponsorships by creating ownable, measurable experiences.” Before, it was practically impossible for a marketing team or brand to reach each person individually or personally at a sporting event. But now, almost everyone has a smart phone and almost everyone has some form of social media, so now brands can look at ways to get each audience member and fan to interact with the sporting event while promoting their brand.

Now that brands know they can interact with their audience, what should they strive towards? “Harnessing technology that can track each fan’s engagement through the course of activation.” This may seem like a great idea with an impossible strategy, but with the advancement of technology comes new tools to use. We now have radio frequency identification wristbands, QR codes on bracelets, Facebook logins, and more! To know how to market, the brand must know who they are marketing to and now we can find out exactly who we need to market to and gain more data than ever before.

Nike Gets Creative with World Cup Sponsorship

Some great examples of this are Nike and Verizon. Nike is not the official sponsor of the World Cup, but they are sponsoring individual teams and players. At the pre-World Cup match, Nike used QR-code wristbands and with it their received data from every single attendee. With this data comes an analysis of the current marketing strategy and an implementation of the results from the new data into a new marketing strategy.

Verizon and the NFL

Verizon took on the challenge of giving every fan their own personal experience with the new NFL Now streaming app. “Verizon personalized each fan’s interests: fans indicated their favorite team, fantasy players, and which videos they like/dislike. Content then dynamically personalized each user’s experience with news, analysis, and highlights. Verizon got it right (Johnston 2).” Who wouldn’t want something that was made just for them? People now feel like they have more control, which they do, and they feel more engaged, which they are. Verizon was able to promote their brand but giving people a fun way to interact in their own personal way.

How can other brands achieve this when they are sponsoring different sports leagues, teams, and players? The first thing is changing how you view your target audience and what is crucial information. Johnston says, “Make it your goal to improve the attendee experience. Give personal memories instead of mass messaging.” People don’t care anymore if the brand name is on a billboard or on a tiny logo on their shirt. Fans want something that changes their experience and makes their time at the sporting event more than just watching a game. Next, companies need not reach the world, because if you fly too high in the sky with a plane to see earth, no one can see you. You must learn to engagement people personally as much as possible and make then feel like they are contributing and interacting with the sporting event. “Finally, explore technology opportunities through the lens of whether they measure your new goals and desired fan behaviors.” Technology has advanced so far and so rapidly, and continues to grow and evolve, that we need to look at what it can do for us, how it can benefit us. Technology is a tool and a tool is only as useful as the person using it; brands can do great things at major events like the Super Bowl or the World Cup if they do it right.

Sports sponsorships are difficult to understand because a brand pays a sports league, team, or player to use or promote their product or service. The brand must learn how to engage the audience more than a sign or logo on a shirt. It is the brands responsibility to have the best ROI they can have, and they can do this with social sharing.

Blog Post Written by Samford University student Cameron Kostoff.

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