• Loading stock data...
Tuesday, July 16, 2024

The Advantage of Experiential Marketing in Sports

With more sponsors looking for tangible activations, experiential marketing could be the storyline of 2018.

Courtesy of intellitix.com

Why do fans enjoy attending sporting events? Is it the noise of the crowd during a closely contested game? Or perhaps it’s the thrill of watching with some of your closest friends and family? Maybe the popcorn really is that good or the giveaway item for that day was too good to pass up? These are, in fact, some of the many reasons that go into making a memorable fan experience.

Yet, this logic goes beyond the confines of a team’s stadium. These principles help make up the effectiveness of experiential marketing.

In the words of creativeguerrillamarketing.com, “Experiential marketing is about connecting consumers with brands through live face-to-face experiences, creating personal and relevant memories.”

Whether this is a freebie, such as a branded giveaway item/coupon or a more comprehensive experience that immerses a fan within the brand, a consumer wants to be a part of the experience. They want to be able to use as many of their five senses as possible.

According to Matt Manning, EVP of Global Marketing and Development for global lifestyle marketing agency MKTG, experiential marketing is all about the connections.

“To really connect a brand to their audience, we have found how critical the human-to-human experience is today. Today’s technology can be outdated within a year or so, and while digital and technology will always play an integral role within marketing strategies, people are gravitating towards interacting and we are seeing our clients’ brands respond to that in droves.”

Experiential marketing doesn’t have to be complex. Brands are looking to attach themselves to sports properties in order to tap into that authentic game experience. At the simplest level, brands are looking to evoke a reaction from the crowd. At the most thorough level, brands are looking to evoke an interaction from the crowd.

In-game promotions are a more modern way of engaging with fans. Sponsors who utilize a t-shirt toss or a “trigger promotion” (ex. If the team scores 5+ runs, fans will win one free burger presented by Company X) give up marketing collateral for the opportunity to draw more fans in.

While they sacrifice the short-term gain of offering free (or discounted) inventory, the hope is that consumer will look to purchase beyond what the promotion offers. Inventory doesn’t even have to be sacrificed to connect with fans. Even something as simple as tabling in front of a team’s stadium is a great way to utilize a genuine connection with fans.

“The event is no longer a stand-along experience. By employing different marketing tactics leveraging experiences, social and digital, the evnet is seamlessly being woven into the fabric of how brands activate when marketing to their consumers,” says Manning.

There is still an immense value in traditional sponsorship strategies such as stadium signage and naming rights, yet the trend has started to shift even more towards increased emphasis on interactive marketing with the fans.

For instance, many companies are active in sponsoring certain “wow” moments.

This could be anything ranging from kids accompanying soccer players walking out to the field to meet-and-greets with players. For sports, it’s everything that non-sports activations can’t provide.

As Manning puts it, “The word experiential is thrown around. Everything can be an experience. From my point of view, people’s reaction to and engagement with things is what experiential is all about.”

Experiential marketing allows for companies to track the amount of direct impressions that they receive.

It is one of the few methods of marketing where one can directly quantify the relationship between the investment (into the sports organization) and the ROI received (the number of long-term customers that are made due to a brand’s marketing efforts).

Much of this has to do with the increased investment in the younger generations. According to a 2014 study from Creative Guerrilla Marketing, “78 percent of millennials are more inclined to become part of a brand if they have that face-to-face interaction.” With the same study estimating that, “Gen Y’s consumer spending will top 100-billion dollars by next year [2015],” it’s no wonder that much of the direct marketing efforts are made towards the demographic that is newer to the experience.

They are the ones who have not been raised in the traditional setting of going to a venue, without the pomp and thrills, and simply focusing on the game at hand. Rather, they need a more direct connection to capture their attention.

The focus, of course is on the fans.

“People’s ability to sniff out fakeness is much higher now than it was in the past,” says Manning. “It’s now about omni-channel marketing and tweaking the strategy and tactics based on the client and target consumer. Consumers nowadays are much savvier and understand marketing and how they are marketed to. Agencies that are successful are creating those conversations with people on behalf of their clients. They are humanizing the client’s brand in almost a slightly vulnerable, empathetic way. They are not preaching to consumers. Rather, they are relating to them and engaging with them in ways that improve their lives and experiences.”

Brands want to do whatever they can to integrate marketing efforts directly into fans. Much of it relies on whether they are willing to go the extra mile in the pursuit of being unconventional.

If they utilize the aspects of sports that dip directly into the consumer’s emotions and senses, it will go a long way towards establishing a genuine connection between the fan and the brand.

This piece has been presented to you by SMU’s Master of Science in Sport Management.

Front Office Sports is a leading multi-platform publication and industry resource that covers the intersection of business and sports.

Want to learn more, or have a story featured about you or your organization? Contact us today.


Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

NCAA Final Four

Women’s Final Four Delivers for Brands, Too

Nike received $21M in brand exposure value during the Women’s Final Four.

NBA Skills Coach Drew Hanlen on Building Pure Sweat Basketball’s Brand

Air’s cloud storage allows renowned skills coach Drew Hanlen to focus on posting content and helping his clients.
Rubicon Talent Launching College Sports Division in Preparation for NIL Reform

Rubicon Talent Prepares for NIL Reform With New College Sports Division

Rubicon-U will advise amateur athletes, brands, universities, conferences and media platforms on ways to leverage opportunities with NIL legislation, however it plays out.
Faithful to the Bay

Q&A: San Francisco 49ers CMO Alex Chang on the Team’s New Brand..

“One unique thing is we are home to fans from all over the Bay Area, which is nine counties. So we’re faithful to the Bay, fans from all walks of life, some not from the Bay at all. But it celebrates them all.” – 49ers CMO Alex Chang
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

Formula E is Powering Its Own Future


Featured Today

Jan 7, 2024; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley (0) reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans during the first half at Nissan Stadium.

Without Hard-Line Bans, Pro Athletes and Personnel Will Keep Betting on Sports

Penalties often aren’t stringent or consistent enough to deter banned behavior.
Oct 2, 2021; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goddell speaks during the Don Shula Celebration of Life at Hard Rock Stadium.
July 13, 2024

The NFL Is Confident It Can Overturn the Sunday Ticket Verdict

The league may have good reason to believe it can win.
July 8, 2024

NFLPA Report Cards Have Become the ‘Talk of the Locker Room’ Across..

NFLPA report cards have become the ‘talk of the locker room.’
July 7, 2024

The New College Sports Insiders Are Graphic Designers

Joe Tipton and Hayes Fawcett have become premier news-breakers on social media.

Everything To Know About the Jaylen Brown–Nike-Olympic Beef

It starts, as it often does, with a carefully parsed emoji.
June 26, 2024

Hot Dog PR Mavens Claim Joey Chestnut Beef Is All Real

The Shea brothers insist the Chestnut drama is genuine.
July 9, 2024

Arch Manning Will Be in EA’s ‘College Football 25’ After All

The NCAA’s most famous backup had previously opted out.

TopSpin 2K25 Brings the Legends of Tennis to Your Living Room

2K sports is reviving a classic with TopSpin 2K25.
June 13, 2024

Everything You Need to Know About the Schism Rocking Competitive Eating

The business story about hot dogs that you never knew you needed.
June 12, 2024

Fanatics Dives Into Ultra-Niche With G League Trading Cards

The company will take over the NBA license in 2025.
May 21, 2024

Lawsuit: Florida Football Coaches Made False NIL Promises

The quarterback says UF backed out of a $13.85 million NIL agreement.
May 8, 2024

Candace Parker Joins Shaq, Iverson in Court-to-Sneaker Boardroom Pipeline

Parker was named president of Adidas women’s basketball Wednesday.