Digitally Activated: Sports Centered

A Look at Online Sports Activations

You’re in Good Hands when Behind The Mic with Allstate on SI.com

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Mayhem… something you don’t want on the field or in your personal life, but sometimes it’s unavoidable.  What happens then? Do you have someone you can trust to help you through these tough moments?  This is the crux of Allstate’s “Mayhem” campaign, and a message the brand reinforces through its partnership with SI.com.

Using “Great Quotes” from retired athletes on SI.com’s “Behind The Mic” video channel, Allstate increases its image as an expert in the fields of: Auto, Motorcycle, Home and Life insurance.  The “Behind The Mic” channel is designed to generate leads for local Allstate agents.

The What

  • Dedicated video channel
  • Co-branded header
  • Video Pre-roll (every other video start)
  • Fixed 300×250
  • Voting module for favorite “Quote of the Week”
  • Module linking users to a local Allstate agent
  • Homepage targeted co-branded media: 300×250, 728×90 and 120×90 (see below)

The Why

The concept for “Behind the Mic” is excellent.  Allstate is associating its brand with retired players (see header in Picture 1) that are slightly past their prime, but are respected by viewers- these athletes resonate with their presumed target audience of Males 25-54 who are also slightly past their prime* a concept first pioneered by Miller Lite in the 70s to make drinking Lite Beer manly.

Allstate wants viewers to trust their agents opinions on insurance, the same way the viewers trust the retired players opinions. By associating its brand with these athletes, Allstate enhances its brand’s image as dependable expert.  The enhanced brand image will help drive sales for its local agents.

Allstate has two call-to-action points on the “Behind the Mic” page.  These units connect a user with the closest agent in their area. The first is the fixed 300×250 to the right of the video player which helps users “Find an Agent”, and the second is a module which prompts users to “Get Your Great Quote”.


Viewers are attracted to the call to action points by the pre-roll which runs before every other video.  Allstate uses celebrity endorser Tim Howard (“Always in Good Hands” with one of the best Goalies in the world) and brand spokesman “Mayhem”, to reinforce its expertise in four fields with four different commercials:

  • Mayhem – Motorcycle Insurance (An add directed at men that have undergone a “mid-life” crisis and are now selling their motorcycle, which ties back to associating the Allstate brand with retired players.)
  • Mayhem – Home & Auto Insurance (Directed at handyman/homeowner that causes more harm than good.  We can all relate.)
  • Mayhem – All four of their areas of expertise (A Brady Bunch parody that shows “Mayhem is everywhere“)
  • Tim Howard – Life Insurance (A reminder that we are still in the game, but we have responsibilities as well.  Clever way to tackle what no man wants to contemplate – our mortality).

Key Takeaways

Allstate uses “Great Quotes” from respected, retired athletes to connect with its target audience in a way that reinforces its image with expertise in the fields of: Auto, Motorcycle, Home and Life insurance.   The Allstate pre-roll which runs before every other “Great Quote” is designed to demonstrate Allstate’s breadth of expertise, and helps drive users to the two call-to-action points on the Allstate branded video channel.

Through it partnership with SI.com, Allstate is increasing its brand image and generating leads for local agents.  A strategy which is sure to cause mayhem for its competitors.

Written by Peter Amador

August 5, 2011 at 7:58 PM

This Bud’s for You… & Your Crew: Budweiser “Band of Buds” Contest on MLB.com

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How does a brand make guys night out into something more than your typical Friday night?  It pits your crew against every other crew of guys in America.   This is the concept behind Budweiser’s,  “Band of Buds” contest.

The What

Homepage takeover of MLB.com on August 1st (the day after the trade deadline) which include the following assets:

  • Page Reskin
  • Fixed 300×250

The Why

I believe Budweiser’s decision to use its homepage takeover of MLB.com to promote its “Band of Buds” contest – opposed to its 52 Weeks to Win Sweepstakes – ties into the belief that attending a baseball is a ritual act of manhood.  Whether it was the first time you watched Fred McGriff hit towering bombs into the right field stands of Qualcomm Stadium with your dad, or the time last year when you and five of your buddies from college watched the Padres beat the Dodgers (nothing is better) the night before you moved to New York. These are experiences which Budweiser needs to have its brand associated with in the minds of Males 18-34.

Budweiser’s “Band of Buds” contest is a national contest – with local components – which encourages participants to chronicle why their “Band of Buds” is worth an all-expense paid trip to Vegas, $100K and fame.  Contest participants are asked to detail their nights out with photo uploads from Facebook.  Every photo that is liked by a contest participant is automatically posted to their Facebook wall.  This helps to increase awareness for the contest with Budweiser’s target demographic (Facebook users that are influenced by the people in their contest).

 

 

Key Takeaways 

Budweiser used a homepage takeover on MLB.com (the day after the trade deadline) to increase awareness for its “Band of Buds” contest.  I believe Budweiser’s decision to promote its contest on MLB.com has to due with the perceived association of attending a baseball game and guys having a good time.  Budweiser’s association with good times is extended to contest participants network through Facebook Connect.

Budweiser has turned the quintessential guys night out, into a competition which enhances the brand’s image through rewards and engagement.  The contest successfully associates the brand’s image with nights out with your friends, and should help to increase sales with contestants.  I know I’ll be ordering a round of Buds the next time I head out to the bars with my friends, because its what we do.

Written by Peter Amador

August 2, 2011 at 1:05 AM

Captain Morgan: Major League Loot for You

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Jeter or Morgan… who’s your Captain?

Now I’m a big fan of Jeter, but I have to go with Morgan.  Why?  Because unless your name is Christian Lopez, Derek Jeter has never gave any of his fans the opportunity to win Major League Loot.

The What

Captain Morgan took-over the homepage of MLB.com on July 25th.  Captain Morgan’s homepage takeover included the following assets:

  • Page Reskin
  • Pencil Unit
  • Fixed 300×250

The Pencil Unit and the 300×250 clicked through to Captain Morgan’s weekly feature on MLB.com “Toasts of the Week” which gives fans the opportunity to “Enter Now to Live Like The Captain“.

“Toasts of the Week” is a feature which highlights individual performances that must be honored.  However, the feature is secondary to the sweepstakes, (evidence by the video player’s placement in the bottom half of the page) which asks the user to “Toast Your Club for a Chance to Win a VIP Baseball Experience”.

The Why

The action of having the user toast their favorite club accomplishes two important goals for Captain Morgan:

  1. It associates the brand with good times and great performances
  2. The users conceptualizes Captain Morgan with rewards (the beautiful blonde at the bar or tickets to watch your favorite team, it doesn’t matter, The Captain is always there for you)

Once the user interest chooses to enter the Major League Loot sweepstakes, the Captain engages the fan with a sleek and attractive sweepstakes page.

Captain Morgan uses its sweepstakes page to successfully integrate its league sponsorship with local partnerships.  The use of team’s marks enables the brand to drive its message directly to its targeted consumer, rather than abstractly through the use of a league’s mark. League marks provide scale but does not generate the visceral emotion of a team’s logo.

Furthermore, I appreciate that the Captain asks you to keep your toast to less than 50 words.  This prevents users from questioning whether they can craft a toast that poetic enough to warrant the Captain’s Loot, and decreases dropoff after entry.

Once a user has completed the sweepstakes entry, Captain Morgan thanks them for entering the Major League Loot contest and prompts them “To Join The Captain for a Toast on Facebook”.

The brand is able to extend the conversation with its target consumer by driving contest participants to it Facebook page, turning a one-off sweepstakes promotion to an effective CRM tool.

Key Takeaways

Captain Morgan used its homepage takeover on MLB.com to increase awareness for its “Major League Loot” sweepstakes.  The creative on the homepage drove awareness for the sweepstakes, while the fixed units clicked through to the sweepstakes page.  The sweepstakes enhanced the brand’s association with great memories and rewards.  Furthermore, the brand drives its messaging home by using team marks to create a personal connection with its target consumer.

Here’s to toasting great brands and great friends, sports wouldn’t be the same without them.

Written by Peter Amador

July 26, 2011 at 1:16 AM

The NFL Lockout is Almost Over… Advertisers Please Return

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The end of the NFL lockout will drive fans to the NFL sections of leading sports websites.  Fans want to know what the new CBA means for their team, and will consume massive amounts of content that focuses on the start on free agency.  However – to my surprise –  I could not find one advertising campaign that was targeted to the NFL sections of ESPN.com, Yahoo! Sports, NBCsports.com or CBSsports.com.

The What

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* ESPN and Yahoo delivered value to their Fantasy League sponsors by promoting their game with fixed placements.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* NBCsports.com’s, Pro Football Talk had RON and house ads on its site, while CBS promoted its non-sponsored fantasy leagues.

The Opportunity

Premium inventory at a non-premium price.

Visitors to these sites this week are avid fans.  They are looking for details on the final days of negotiations, and how the new CBA will affect their team’s ability to retain their star players and address their needs in free agency.  These are the types of fans that NFL league sponsors should be using their IP rights to target.

To make my suggested media buy, a sponsor would have needed a strong inclination that the lockout would be approaching its end.  To think that a well connected marketing executive would have this knowledge is not unfathomable (see: Ponturo, Tony). According to Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen, it was all but a given that the lockout would be over in time to a guarantee a full training camp.  If you had this knowledge as a league sponsor, why would you not risk buying media around the last two weeks of July and into August at a discounted price?

We are about to enter one of the most talked about free agency periods of our lifetime.  It would have been fun to see how a brand could have used original creative and a targeted message to connect with the excitement surronding the return of the National Football League.

Written by Peter Amador

July 21, 2011 at 1:00 AM

“All-New Rapids Reward” Program from Southwest for Golf Fans

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Southwest, the airline for golfers?  After the first round of the British Open, you won’t think twice about this.

Southwest established roadblocks in the Golf Sections of ESPN.com and CBSSports.com during the first round of the 2011 British Open, and has a strong media presence on GolfChannel.com.  Southwest banners for their 2011 British Open campaign feature picturesque beaches – not exactly associated with the British countryside – and promote the “All-New Rapid Rewards” program which offers new users 250 Bonus Points when they sign up today.  Southwest’s decision to highlight its “All-New Rapid Rewards” program leads me to believe that the brand is trying to reinvent its image with golf fans, who may still view the brand as an economy airline. The enticement of 250 Bonus Points suggests that Southwest’s main objective for its 2011 British Open campaign is an increase in enrollment for its “All-New Rapid Rewards” program.

The What

Southwest’s roadblock on CBSSports.com included: Page Reskin, Pencil Unit and 300×250

Southwest’s roadblock on ESPN.com included: Presented by logo and fixed 300×250

 

 

 

 

 

Southwest’s rotational media on GolfChannel.com included: 728×90 and 300×250 units

The Why 

Southwest’s 2011 British Open campaign is interesting in that the call to action did not attempt to drive sales by featuring Southwest’s low fares or policy of not charging baggage fees, but rather it was about establishing a dialogue with a potential customer.  The user was asked to share their contact information and travel preferences when they enrolled in the “All-New Rapid Rewards” program.  Users were given the opportunity to subscribe to four email newsletters associated with the “All-New Rapid Rewards” program: Rapid Rewards – The Report, Rapid Rewards Email Update, Click ‘N Save and In a Nutshell.

These newsletters will extend Southwest’s communication with its target audience.  Any sales which result from the email blasts to the new registrants will provide a direct ROI for the 2011 British Open campaign, providing Southwest with a tangible evaluation for its campaign.

Key Takeaways

Southwest is promoting its “All-New Rapids Reward” program to golf fans by establishing roadblocks in the Golf sections of ESPN.com and CBSsports.com during the first round of the British Open.  The campaign’s objective is increasing the number of participants in the “All-New Rapid Rewards” program, which the company believes will translate into direct sales.  The promotion of a rewards program is a diversion from Southwest’s traditional sports marketing campaigns which highlight the company’s policy of not charging baggage fees and low fares.  This may be the company’s attempt to change its image with a particular type of consumer that still view the airline as an economy airline.

Southwest will establish meaningful relationships with a coveted audience through its 2011 British Open campaign and should be recognized for its targeted and aggressive media spend.

Written by Peter Amador

July 15, 2011 at 12:46 AM

US Army’s “Path to the Show” through the Home Run Derby

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The US Army’s homepage takeover of MLB.com on Home Run Derby Day was a pairing of two of America’s most iconic brands.  The US Army capitalized on the excitement around the event by increasing awareness for it original feature on MLB.com “Path to the Show” and aligning its brand with an event that speaks to its target audience.

The What 

U.S. Army’s Homepage Takeover on MLB.com included: a Page Reskin, one Pencil Unit and one Rectangle Unit.

The Pencil Unit clicked through to US Army’s video page on MLB.com which features “Path to the Show“.

The Rectangle Unit clicked through to the U.S. Army’s “At The Ready” video feature on GoArmy.com.

The Why


The U.S. Army is associating its brand with the journey young men take to reach the pinnacle of their professional and personal lives.  “The Path to the Show” offers users the opportunity to hear first hand the challenges which top prospects face in the minors, their approach to overcoming obstacles and the rewards of achieving their lifelong ambition of becoming a MLB player.  The feature highlights how young men of a certain caliber can contribute to the success of an organization at the highest level.  These are all themes which are consistent with the US Army’s “At the Ready Campaign” which shows how young men and women thrive in challenging situations in service of their country.  Furthermore, the brand associates itself with an event where the top four finishers were named: Cano, Gonzalez, Ortiz and Fielder, helping the US Army to reinforce its commitment to providing opportunities to all Americans.

Key Takeaways

The US Army has partnered with MLB.com to create a feature which appeals to its target audience.  The feature was showcased on one of MLB.com’s tent-pole events; an event in which the stars of the day were easily identifiable with US Army’s target audience.  The US Army increased awareness for its original feature on MLB.com and aligned its brand with an event in which its participants and its attributes of speed, power and strength, speak to the US Army’s target audience.

Written by Peter Amador

July 12, 2011 at 12:18 AM

March Madness on Demand: Streaming Live Sports to the Consumer

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We will always watch sports on the biggest screen available (Kint, Jason).  It is simple math, 60 in > 14 in >10 in > 4 in.

Sports produces a visceral emotion which is tied to the artistic beauty of witnessing athletic greatness.  And as art has moved from caves, to temples, to cathedrals and into the Met, our spectating experience has moved from radio, to black-and-white, to color, and into HD.  We have always sought out authenticity in our viewing experience, and this need will continue to be the defining quality of our viewing habits.  Results from the 2011 NCAA Tournament support this argument.

Through the Elite 8 of this year’s NCAA tournament, CBS and Turner Sports (TBS, TNT and truTV) averaged a 6.8 rating in the top 56 US markets*.  This translates into an estimated average audience of 9.4 million viewers per night. Furthermore, nearly 100 million people have watched some part of the tournament.   Television’s hegemony on the publics viewing habits becomes apparent when the tournament’s ratings are juxtaposed to MMOD stats.

Through the Elite 8, more than 41.6 million visits have been registered to March Madness on Demand across the online, iPhone and iPad platforms.  These visits account for 12.7 million hours of video streaming, with the iPhone and iPad MMOD app accounting for 29% of video streams (Multichannel.com).  These numbers are quite impressive; however, MMOD viewership pales in comparison to the television viewership, being bested at a rate of nearly 5:2.

The disparity between television and online viewing is not an indictment on the lack of penetration or breadth of online viewing, but rather a validation of the theory that online viewing is a supplement to television consumption and not a competition.

The benefits of online streaming are twofold – 1. it reaches the disenfranchised fan (San Diego State fans in NYC without a tv) and 2. it enhances the viewers experience by providing camera access and angles which are unavailable from the broadcast (NBC Sunday Night Football), neither of which compete with the traditional broadcast experience.

If online streaming of games challenged the integrity of game broadcasts, would the “Most Innovative Company in Sports” dare allow its customers to view its games online with ESPN3.com – putting into jeopardy its more than $4 billion in cable subscription fees per year?  This presumption is supported by the fact that online video streams for MMOD have been the highest for the early Thursday and Friday games – while most people are presumably at work.  I would argue that the same conditions lead viewing patterns to increase on the iPhone and iPad during the weekends while people are living their life, but want to know what is happening in the San Diego State vs. Temple game (we won).

People want the flexibility to consume sports whenever and wherever they please, but this does not mean that they will forgo experience for convenience.  If you don’t believe me, ask my friends at Qualcomm headquarters about Flo TV.

The idea of living in a multi-screen world is to enhance our reality.  Our senses must be stimulated like never before; we expect to be moved by the experience of watching an event.  A multi-screen world provides us with numerous outlets to consume the content which we desire – sports.

In opening ourselves to this content, we are also opening ourselves to corporate sponsors.  We must embrace this reality and be grateful, because they are the ones the make the content possible.

* TV ratings were weighted down by the First Four match-ups

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