Digitally Activated: Sports Centered

A Look at Online Sports Activations

Posts Tagged ‘sponsorship activation

The Future Impact of Augmented Reality on Sports Media

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Augmented Reality is the innovation that will abruptly disrupt sports media.  It will fundamentally revolutionize the consumer’s experience.  The moment is not that far away.  In the past few months we have had a rapping Tupac at Coachella and fans virtually posing with Super Bowl rings, the Stanley Cup, and the French Soccer Championship trophy.  Augmented Reality will center on specialized one off events for the next few years; however, the future of the burgeoning field is the enhancement of live events.

The aforementioned sport activations are superb in their innovation.  Fans will appreciate them for their authenticity, and they provide an opportunity for fans to identify with athletic greatness.  These are vitally important developments for properties and sponsorship activation teams.  To effectively construct a different sports reality, we will have to take this technology to the hands of consumers in real-time.

Live sports continue to be the most indispensible commodity of a network’s portfolio.  However, there will come a point when rights fees are no longer economically justifiable.  Distributors are increasingly willing to fight networks on their carriage fees, e.g. MSG v. Time Warner, Fox Sports San Diego v. Time Warner/Dish/AT&T U-Verse, and Viacom v. Dish.  These fights will continue at both the local and national level.  It is inevitable that the ceiling for sports rights will have ramifications that extend to the playing field through CBA related causes.  Therefore, it will be incumbent upon properties to develop new mediums which will give broadcasters more interactive advertising solutions.  This is where Reality Distortion will truly take hold.

I envision a world where the next Shazam integrations are geo-targeted, time-specific, and relevant to the broadcast.  For example, Coors Light would run an ad during the third quarter of a Chargers vs. Raiders game to a displaced Chargers in fan NYC.  The fan using an app on their phone or tablet would then be able to recognize the ad, the fan’s location, time-slot of the ad and offer the fan specific behind the scenes footage of the game.  The activation would include bringing Herm Edwards into the living room of the user.  Herm would offer real-time commentary about the broadcast in such a way that would speak directly to the fan’s team allegiance.  This user specific Augmented Reality will be the defining experience of sports media over the next decade.

We have only begun to scratch the surface of Augmented Reality’s potential.  The future will include geo-targeted integrations that speak directly to the consumer’s interest during live broadcasts.  The ability of properties and networks to offer these solutions to advertisers will ensure the sustainability of current sports broadcast rights.

Written by Peter Amador

July 30, 2012 at 11:14 PM

Jose Cuervo Romanced Kevin Love with Pro Beach Volleyball

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Kevin Love has chosen to “Find His Beach” not with a Corona, but with a shot of Cuervo.  He  partnered with Jose Cuervo to promote  last month’s Manhattan Beach Open.

The Manhattan Beach Open is part of the Jose Cuervo Pro Beach Volleyball Series (JCPBVS), and is one of the premier events of the So Cal summer.  According to Brian Radics, Jose Cuervo brand director, the decision for Jose Cuervo to become title sponsor of the JCPBVS was based on the fit between the brand and the sport:

“Beach volleyball and Jose Cuervo are both known for intensity and lifestyle appeal, and the opportunity to help the sport return to prominence not only for the players but also for fans was one we’re excited about.”

The Partnership

The partnership between Kevin Love and Jose Cuervo was announced in July at the Jose Cuervo Pro Beach Volleyball Series event in Times Square.  There, Kevin Love described to a reporter from Larry Brown Sports how the partnership originated:

“Jose Cuervo came to me and said that they wanted me to be a part of it and I took it and ran with it — I thought it was a home run. It’s a different thing I could use throughout the lockout to keep active and kind of have fun with, so I’m very excited about it.”

It is very interesting that Jose Cuervo would approach an active player – albeit one not under contract – to participate in one of its marquee marketing initiatives of the summer.  Furthermore, we should examine why the marketing of the event was conspicuously devoid of Kevin Love’s likeness.

According to the Distill Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS):

“To help ensure that individuals in beverage alcohol advertising are and appear to be above the legal purchase age, models and actors employed should be a minimum of 25 years old, substantiated by proper identification and should reasonably appear to be 21 years of age and older. (Page 5, Point 7)”

Partnership Restrictions

Kevin Love is only 22 years old.  In order for this partnership to be compliant with the distilled spirits governing body, Kevin Love could not publicly endorse the Jose Cuervo product e.g. “I have always loved Cuervo.  Back at UCLA, me and Westbrook used to got shot for shot on our way to the Final 4. (fictional quote)”  Therefore, when Kevin Love speaks about his partnership with Jose Cuervo it is always in direct relation to the JCPBVS, “I have always been a fan of beach volleyball and when I received the opportunity to play in the Jose Cuervo Pro Beach Volleyball Series, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. (actual quote)”  The restriction however detracts from Love’s dynamic social personality which could have dramatically moved the needle on the partnership.

The Possibilities of the Partnership

Love has been part of a clever campaign with Right Guard, a viral video promoting his All-Star game worthiness (the video was created by the T-Wolves and has been removed from the Internet due to the lockout), more than 67,000 Facebook Likes, and more than 97,000 Followers on Twitter.  His greatest asset to brands moving forward is that he is fully fluent in the language of social media.

He entered college as Facebook was becoming ubiquitous and Twitter was gaining mainstream attention.  He has immersed himself in these platforms, and understands how to engage his audience.  Furthermore, he is comfortable in front of a camera.  His appeal to Jose Cuervo is obvious.  However, the limitations of his age prevented the partnership from reaching is true potential.  We could have a mockumentary on his training reigme featuring guest appearances from NBA and Hollywood stars, we could have had a cross country tour with Love promoting his affiliation with Jose Cuervo at summer hotspots across the nation, and we could have seen one of the most interactive social media campaigns of the summer.

Partnering with Kevin Love was a great way for Jose Cuervo to bring national attention to a local event, despite the limitations of his age.  I look forward to seeing how Jose Cuervo promotes the remaining two events of the Jose Cuervo Pro Beach Volleyball Series.

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

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

Sponsored Facebook Posts: Good or Bad Idea?

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Is there a reason not to have sponsored posts on your Fan Page? Is Facebook the holy sanctum of fandom that cannot be commercialized by sports properties?  Of course not.

A recent report from ComScore estimates that Facebook accounts for 23% of all ad impressions on the Internet. This statistic underscores the reality that users are not impervious, nor opposed, to advertising on Facebook.  The bombardment of advertising which users are exposed to on the platform necessitates that properties incorporate their partners in original content which enhances the user’s experience.

I argued this point in a recent meeting, but was unable to convince a majority of my colleagues to agree with me.  They wanted to see proof that is was a viable option, so I offered to look at the Fan Pages of some of the leading properties on Facebook.  Their pages were to serve as our moral compass.

I visited fanpagelist.com on February 16th and selected 10 of the top 20 sports properties on Facebook.  I proceeded to categorize all of their post from Feb. 1-16 into five categories: promotional, videos, photos, sponsored content and social outreach.  In all, 695 posts were reviewed.  The results can be seen in the table below.

A few quick notes regarding the table:

  • The Promotional category served as a catchall for posts which contained  links to articles (even if the post included a picture), poll questions, ticket/apparel discounts, or asked for user feedback
  • The Boston Celtics did a great job of driving traffic back to their “Keys to the Game presented by Ford” section with a video link
  • The best integration of a sponsor into a post was the Los Angeles Lakers’ Injury Report presented by the UCLA Medical Center
  • Post which included open-ended questions were the most commented and liked posts [ex from Man U’s page: Was Wayne Rooney’s goal against City last Saturday “the best goal ever scored at Old Trafford”? Check it out again and tell us what you think. We’d love to hear your thoughts! (47,382 Likes and 9,670 Comments) – yes, the goal and topic are extreme motivating factors, but the post itself is a great example of how to generate user involvement]
  • If you are a property – share as many videos as you can produce, and as many fan submitted photos as possible; we like to see out teams dominating/having fun, and we love to see ourselves embracing our fandom
  • If you work for the Cowboys or Yankees – please get someone to turn off the RSS feed; unquestionably, the two most boring pages in the history of Facebook.

My research revealed that less than 1% of posts from these properties were branded with a sponsor’s image; however, this should not preclude future sponsor integration.

Facebook is a community. Facebook is an entertainment channel. Facebook connects fans with their teams.  Properties should use these statements as guidelines for the integration of sponsors into their posts.  The guidelines will drive properties to connect partners with their fans in a meaningful way that improves their fans experience on the Internet.  In doing so, they will be uplifting the partner’s brand image.

The cost of a sponsored post? How good is your account executive?

Written by Peter Amador

February 27, 2011 at 9:46 PM

Retail Partners: The Ace in Your Sponsorship Portfolio

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Take less money from retailers to increase your sponsorship revenue.

An argument I contrived out of a conversation with a colleague two weeks ago.  We were speculating on how the Facebook Deals announcement could improve the activation practices of our partners.  I postulated that a retail partner (Partner A) could reward shoppers/fans that checked in with a $15 coupon off the purchase of Partner B’s product.   This practice would serve to increase traffic to Partner B’s isle, which I envisioned being complete with an in-store display highlighting Partner A and B’s sponsorship of our property.  The in-store activation would serve to help Partner A and B monetize their sponsorship investment, and strengthen Partner A and B’s brand image with our fan base and Partner A’s shoppers.   The logistical concerns of working with these partners caused us to question the feasibility of the promotion; however, this will be the future of retail activation for sponsors.  Sports Authority’s, Black Friday promotion demonstrated that we are approaching that moment. 

Shoppers that checked in at a Sports Authority on Black Friday were entered to win one of 20, $500 gift certificates to be distributed nationwide.  My mind immediately jumped to a joint promotion between Sports Authority and adidas.  The possibility of incorporating adidas MLS / Mexican National Team gear into the store’s promotion had me nearing delirium (Sports Authority is not one of our partners).    

It was through these ideas that I came to realize the necessity of having retailers as strategic partners.  Retailers that are invested and value their sponsorship, are more likely to provide a property’s partners with the right to conduct in-store promotions and secure prefered isle space; these relationships can and should be leverage by properties to provide prospective sponsors with action items to consider during the recruitment process. 

A requirement has been placed on properties to demonstrate that they can advance the business objectives of prospective partners.  Providing prospects the opportunity to conduct experiential sweepstakes, ticket discounts and offer coupons to fans/shoppers at retail demonstrates a desire to help partners monetize their sponsorship investment.  Furthermore, the ability to design an unquestionable ROI evaluation practice with retailers, is a undeniable benefit for potential sponsors.  

A property that can deliver prefered retail space to prospective partners, transforms their selling points from points of conjecture (impressions, on-site activation and fan avidity) to quantifiable and desired results of retail-activation.  In a post-Great Recession Era, what is quantifiable is valuable.

The capacity to evaluate the number of sales generated at a retail location during a specified time period – attributable to the partner’s sponsorship investment – will enable a property to develop a compelling renewal argument; especially, when traditional benefits such as impressions and on-site activation are included.  

Securing retailers as strategic partners enable properties to offer partners a forum to translate their enhanced brand image into sales.  Furthermore, retailers allow the property and its partners to extend their engagement with fans beyond the traditional in-venue, living room and bar experience.  The more meaningful the benefits delivered to the shopper/fan, the more equity the partners will derive from their partnership.  The greater the equity, the more valuable the sponsorship is for all parties involved – especially the property.

Written by Peter Amador

November 28, 2010 at 10:48 AM

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