Where Sport and Marketing Intersect
The worlds of competitive sports and marketing converge in a subdivision of marketing known as sport marketing. This marketing segment “allows brands to piggyback on the sentiments and devotions of fans towards their favorite teams and athletes,” Kiyoshi Tatani, the president of athletic apparel and accessories brand Mizuno Singapore, told Rezwana Manjur of Marketing Interactive. Explore some of the places sport and marketing intersect in the modern world.
Social Media Is Used During Sport Coverage
Social media marketing has become one of the most powerful tools for attracting online traffic, driving sales, and engaging audiences in the modern era, according to Jimmy Rohampton of Forbes. So it’s not surprising that many sport marketing strategies focus on social media.
Social media and sports are a natural fit, with AdWeek commenting that the sport industry is better equipped than any other sector to exploit this real-time marketing medium.
In their paper “Second Screen and Sports: A Structural Investigation Into Team Identification and Efficacy,” Nicole R. Cunningham and Matthew S. Eastin wrote that second screen use, or use of a second screen such as a smartphone or tablet, is increasing during sport programming.
Evidence shows that second screen users aren’t just engaging with the sport and other fans, but also with the brands advertising within sports broadcasts. During the 2017 Super Bowl’s 6:30-11 p.m. Eastern time broadcast, 307,000 tweets referred to the trailer for the Netflix series “Stranger Things” shown during the broadcast, according to Lara O’Reilly of Business Insider. “Stranger Things” was mentioned more than any other brand during this period. The next most popular was another Super Bowl advertiser, T-Mobile, mentioned in 91,700 tweets. These tweets helped support the brands’ TV advertisements, expanding their reach and generating further buzz.
Stadiums Are Getting Smarter for Easier Live Streaming
Sports stadiums around the world, including Vivant Smart Home Arena in Utah, the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne, Australia, and the Vodafone Arena in Istanbul, Turkey, are investing in high-speed Wi-Fi technology.
Martin Edmundson, a digital marketing executive at m-hance, expects smaller stadiums to join them as they realize the promotional benefits of fans sharing their experiences at the grounds with their online contacts. This rise in smart stadiums coincides with the growing popularity of video sharing apps like Facebook Live and Periscope.
Live videos aid engagement, with Jonathan Savage of Social Media Today noting Facebook users spend three times longer watching live streams than pre-recorded videos. They’re also very popular. Periscope says Twitter users watch approximately 110 years of live video via its service daily. Suzy Bashford of Campaign also noted that live streaming platforms like these are becoming the places sports fans look to experience sports action as it unfolds. This is particularly true of millennials, who increasingly prefer live streams to television broadcasts.
By offering free Wi-Fi, stadiums are making it easier for sports fans to promote their teams and facilities using live streaming technology.
Sports Sponsorships Are Becoming More Interactive
In the past, brands sponsoring sports teams had little more than their logos on team uniforms, banners around sports venues, and athletes in their advertisements. However, sponsors are increasing their engagement with sports fans, according to Bashford.
Modern brands understand that sports fans want to be active participants rather than passive viewers, she said. They appeal to these sports enthusiasts by creating exclusive content related to the teams and events they sponsor. This content makes use of the exclusive access sponsors enjoy to athletes, coaches and managers, training sessions, and events not open to the public. This kind of content helps brands engage sports fans in ways their competitors can’t.
“Sports sponsorship gives you the entry ticket to access engaging content in an agile way,” Jean-Pierre Diernaz, Nissan Europe’s vice president of marketing, told Bashford. “As a way to deliver logo impressions, sponsorship doesn’t work. As a way to deliver content, it does.”
This content has inherent value to sports fans that have a high level of engagement with the teams they support. Sponsor-generated content often feels more authentic than traditional press conferences and other content managed by sports teams, Bashford said, which is why it works so well. For example, Nike has Nike on Demand, a messenger service that helps sports fans connect to a network of Nike-sponsored athletes and coaches. Furniture brand and Olympic sponsor DFS showed a different side of gold medal-winning athletes like Laura Trott and Adam Peaty when it created videos documenting makeovers of the sports personalities’ homes.
The interactive strategy seems to be paying off, with Brain Clapp of Work In Sports noting that 30 percent of fans who engage with a sponsor through social media channels later purchase from the brand.
Modern Sport Marketing Doesn’t Take Breaks
Contemporary brands understand their sport marketing efforts shouldn’t end when the final siren sounds or the season is over. Instead, they look to appeal to “24/7 fans,” the 73 percent of people who want to access content whenever they want it and the 83 percent of sports fans who want sports content out of the usual season, according to Performance Communications and Canvas 8 figures cited by Tony Connelly of The Drum.
“One thing we are looking at is creating an ongoing link with sponsorships in the digital world,” Roel de Vries, Nissan’s global head of marketing, told Connelly. “With racing, for example, a lot of our activation has not been on the track, but online with the GT Academy. You can get 100,000 people racing your car on Sony PlayStation for a few hours a day. This has far greater reach.”
Interactive games like this and other evergreen content help companies continue marketing to a sports-hungry fan base throughout the year, maximizing the impact of their sports associations and building valuable ongoing brand awareness.
If you are passionate about sports and interested in pursuing marketing as a career, consider a career that blends the two. You can discover more about the world of sport marketing with a sport management degree online, as sport marketing is a key component of this niche. To learn more, visit Adelphi University’s online Master of Science in Sport Management degree program.