Sports inherently excite the public. For this reason, it is relatively easy to appeal to people’s emotions when it comes to public sporting events. The trick, however, is to distinguish one’s team from the dozens of other teams also competing to get the public’s attention and drive enthusiasm about an upcoming game. Effective marketers do this by creating highly original, engaging, and even experiential campaigns.
One of the best ways to get ideas for exciting new campaigns is to look at which efforts have been most successful in recent years. The following are some of the most notable recent sports marketing highlights:
The Louisville Slugger Scavenger Hunt
When the St. Louis Cardinals emerged as World Series champions, Louisville Slugger capitalized on the excitement by instituting a day-long scavenger hunt in the greater St. Louis area. After hiding 45 baseball bats throughout the city, the company posted hints about their whereabouts on Facebook and Twitter. Because St. Louis has such a strong baseball culture, the campaign was a major success, driving the “talking about this” number on the company’s Facebook page from 755 users to 7,049 users. Twitter followers increased by 161 percent, and Facebook likes went up by 143 percent.
Part of the campaign’s success depended on tying the company’s bats into the Cardinals’ win. Incorporating trending topics into a marketing campaign is a great way to harness existing energy and reframe it for a new purpose. The Orlando City Soccer Club employed a similar scavenger hunt model to generate excitement about soccer.
The Michigan Wolverines One-Day Presale
The ultimate goal of sports marketing is to spur ticket sales. Social media is a powerful tool for motivating people, and the Michigan Wolverines football team took advantage of its strong Facebook presence to host a one-day presale on the site. The team made the presale an exclusive deal for fans of the Michigan Football Facebook page. Users were required to “like” the Facebook page before gaining access to the deals, which provided added value to customers simply for being fans.
Over the course of 24 hours, the team earned 7,000 new likes and generated over $74,000 in ticket sales. Promotions and contests that are exclusively for fans are a great way to generate loyalty while also driving sales.
The Sport England #ThisGirlCan Campaign
Sport England, formerly the English Sports Council, wanted to do something about the fact that 2 million more men than women participate in sports in the United Kingdom. Some research revealed that fear of judgment was largely the cause of this discrepancy. Essentially, women feared being mocked for appearance, ability, and even priorities. To encourage female participation in sports, the organization captured images of real women doing regular exercises and featured them in commercials and print ads.
The female response to the campaign was overwhelming, with many women sharing content through social media and commenting on the material. As of January 2016, 2.8 million British women reported that they had become more active because of the campaign, and 1.6 million said they now exercised regularly. Sometimes, addressing real social issues can engage the public while also doing important marketing work.
The Madden NFL Giferator
Madden NFL is a popular football video game that has become legendary among football fans. However, EA Sports understands the importance of keeping experiences fresh. In 2015, the company teamed with Google to create the GIF generator for its newest incarnation of the Madden NFL series. Called the giferator, this tool allowed players to create GIFs of their favorite players doing their unique taunts, celebrations, or maneuvers from an actual game.
The genius of the giferator was that it allowed fans to relieve their favorite games while producing their chosen GIFs. As such, the campaign was beneficial for both the NFL and the Madden series. Involving fans in a fun and engaging activity is a great way to elicit buzz.
The New Jersey Devils Mission Control Initiative
In an effort to make fans feel more a part of the team, the New Jersey Devils created Mission Control, a social media center for the team that is completely run by fans. At any given time, 25 fans are behind the screens at the control center to monitor discussions involving the team that are taking place on various social media platforms. On game days, rotating shifts of fans staff Mission Control for up to 12 hours and, as it is a volunteer operation, no one gets paid.
Within six months of Mission Control’s launch, Facebook fan numbers increased from 100,000 to 170,000, and the Twitter account received more than 25,000 followers. At the Bulldog Awards that year, the New Jersey Devils earned the title of the most digitally and socially engaged brand. With two ticket campaigns factored into the mix, the team generated more than $17,000 in revenue, thus proving that getting fans directly involved with social media is a great way to drive sales, as well as loyalty.