Sports Marketing in Covid Times:
Why virtual activation is here to stay.
Thanks to the Coronavirus, we’re seeing a tectonic change in live-event sports marketing these days, as the playing field shifts and quakes seemingly week to week, sometimes day to day. Games are suspended or postponed. Double-headers become the norm. Some baseball games are shortened to seven innings. The NBA plays out a truncated season in a “bubble” in Orlando. The list goes on.
In Denver, 5,700 fans braved the Covid-19 pandemic to see the Broncos live and in-person… along with thousands of cardboard cutouts of characters from The Simpsons animated TV show. Hard to be moved by the roar of that crowd.
As a result, fans are driven to watching games on television, hosting backyard tailgating parties for small groups of friends or taking up other activities. No longer able to attend games in-stadium, most fans must turn to broadcast, cable and live-stream versions of these events. The flipside, of course, is that anyone with an internet connection has a host of other alternatives, from video games to e-sports competitions, where the auto racing world has led the pack with simulated racing games and partnership with gaming console makers and software developers.
Enthuse ‘Em or Lose ‘Em
The sports teams and venues in which they play, as well as the corporate sponsors and advertiser partners on whom they rely for revenue, are at risk of losing a fanbase that has been decades in the making. They have scrambled to adapt. Many have jumped head-first into remote and virtual interaction with fans, social media connections and online experiential marketing campaigns.
Digital techniques, such as CTMi’s VIP PaaS virtual audience engagement and activation solution, provide sports organizations, venues and their sponsor partners with a unique, personalized interaction with the fan – whether that fan is at home or one of the few lucky ones in the stadium. Using their own mobile device, fans can upload selfies and receive a link in real time to a personalized mobile website that now includes their team/sponsor branded photo, and multiple links for video content, offers, app upload, games/sweepstakes – as well as instant social sharing. Other types of virtual engagement such as the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks MAV’s Trivia Video Survivor Quiz which afforded sponsorship opportunities – and revenue – as well fan involvement and activation, also demonstrate the appeal of online promotions to an audience that has grown up in the digital world. Meanwhile, the San Antonio Spurs created “Tim’s Bank Shot Challenge” to entice fans to send in their versions of soon-to-be Hall of Famer Tim Duncan’s signature move. Shared online through social media, this virtual event had legs… and multiple opportunities for ad partners.
Nothing Beats Fan-Generated Content to Drive Fan Interest and Loyalty
These and similar examples from professional sports show that even established leagues and franchises can innovate. And as they do, they’ll discover that, rather than being a substitute for the “real thing”, virtual connections will supplement and enhance the experience for their fan audience going forward. Why stop the conversation just because the fans are back in their seats?
We predict that remote and virtual engagement – a necessity in Covid times — will live on long after the virus is gone.
We’d love to hear from you on the subject. Contact us.