Digitally Activated: Sports Centered

A Look at Online Sports Activations

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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

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

A Vision for Univision

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Hispanic male consumers age 18-49 –  A targeted demographic for marketers, and an emerging consumer base for properties.  The interests of both intersect with Univision.

Univision has positioned itself as the preeminent network for Spanish language sports.  The large audiences which the network attracted for its World Cup broadcasts thrust the network into the forefront of sports media stories throughout the summer; however, its acquisition of the United States broadcast rights to  Mexican National Team matches leading up to the 2014 World Cup may have been the network’s most significant achievement of 2010. 

The Mexico vs. Ecuador match on September 4th attracted 2.7 million viewers, helping the network become the most viewed channel amongst 18-49 year-olds for the week.  This was the first time a Spanish language network had beat out its English counterparts in this significant demographic.  The match broadcast may have not been the primary reason for the network winning the ratings battle; however, the ratings bump which the network received on a Saturday night was of critical importance.    Furthermore, Univision’s exclusive rights to MNT matches enables the channel to drive its business interests with multi-platform content.

Prior to the Ecuador match, Univision announced a partnership with AT&T to deliver MNT matches to AT&T Mobile TV subscribers.  This deal was made possible due to AT&T’s existing relationship with the MNT through Soccer United Marketing, and Univision’s broadcast agreement with the MNT, highlighting the complexity of the digital sports landscape.  Additionally, the AT&T deal is a manifestation of the adept leadership at the network. 

Univision was able to secure the Mobile TV rights in addition to its broadcast rights.  Mobile TV rights have been the providence of governing bodies in the United States.   The network’s ability to procure these rights from the FMF was not only a coup for the network’s bottom line, but I believe its reputation amongst the three major sports leagues in the United States.   Univision’s partnership with the NFL to launch NFL.com/espanol demonstrates the increasing importance the network will have on the future domestic growth of the NFL, NBA and MLB. 

Whether you are considered to be a general market property (NFL) or a Hispanic focused property (MNT/MLS), Univision’s hegemony of the Spanish-speaking audience in the United States is a necessity.    The networks youthful audience (55.2% 18-49 compared to CBS’ 31.5%) is in concert with the Hispanic population’s demographic (49.5% between 18-49 compared to the non-Hispanics 44.8%), providing properties a forum to generate sustainable domestic growth. 

We continue to wait for Versus to evolve into a legitimate challenger to ESPN’s crown – which may very well happen if Congress ever approves the Comcast / NBC Universal merger – and continue to neglect an over-the-air network that delivers a premium audience to advertisers.  Don’t keep the blinders on too long, because there’s a horse gaining ground down the stretch.

Boost your image with Chivas de Guadalajara

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10 days, 2 trips to PPL Park.  My first trip was with Soccer United Marketing (SUM) for the Union’s match against Chivas de Guadalajara (9/1), and the second was with Fox Soccer Channel for the Union’s match against the Chicago Fire (9/11).  While I was fulfilling different roles – marketing operations and broadcast production – my trips to Philadelphia enabled me to asses SUM’s partners activation practices from multiple vantage points.  While I was impressed with many of our partners on-site presence,   I was most impressed with Boost Mobile’s activation of its Chivas sponsorship (disclaimer: I work for SUM’s partnership marketing department but not on the Boost account).

Boost’s launched its sponsorship of the 2010 Chivas Tour with an in-store autograph session with Chivas legend Missael Espinoza.  The event was promoted on a Spanish language radio station in Philadelphia, and the radio station was on-site for a remote broadcast.  Furthermore, Boost built a cause marketing initiative into Missael’s appearance. The brand donated a $1,000 dollars to a local organization which enhances the educational opportunities of children from low-income families.  The in-store event was a modest success; however, the brand was able to maximize its on-site activation at PPL Park.

Boost had three distinct activation areas at SUM’s pre-game event zone “Futbol Fiesta”.  The first was a lounge area where fans were able to escape the interminable Philadelphia heat and relax on sofas provided by the brand.  The second was a miniature soccer field where attendees were encouraged to participate in a juggling contest, and the third was a skills area were fans were challenged to demonstrate their accuracy on penalty kicks.  In the middle of the three areas, Missael was on-hand to sign autographs for the more than 5,000 visitors to Futbol Fiesta.  The success of Boost’s on-site activation was attributable to the brand’s ability to speak to its consumer, and the Chivas consumer at the same time.

The brand fit between the Chivas property and Boost enables the partnership to ‘boost’ the profile of both the property and brand.  Boost is known for its ability to speak young minorities, first with the comical “Where you at” advertising campaign, and then with its partnerships with hip-hop artists Game, Ludacris, Kanye West, Fat Joe and Young Jeezy.  The Chivas fan base is a predominantly young-male, Mexican immigrants.  An obvious target of Boost Mobile, which defines itself as the phone company which does not require its customers to sign contracts.

Boost’s partnership with SUM and the Chivas property enables the brand to speak to an audience familiar with its message, and engineer substantial brand equity with these potential consumers.  Translating the brand equity into receipts at the register will be contingent on more variables than its Chivas sponsorship, but the sponsorship allows Boost to place itself within a community which is of significant interest to the company.  We will have to wait and see the results.

Written by Peter Amador

September 14, 2010 at 7:36 PM

Hispanic Millennials: The Future of MLS

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Major League Soccer’s future success is contingent upon its ability to market its game to first and second generation Hispanic-Americans. 

The United States Census Bureau estimates there are 48 million Hispanics living in the United States, a number which is expected to increase to 73 million by 2030.  I contend that this figure will be driven by an increase in American born Hispanics, opposed to immigration.  Arizona may be considered a rogue state today, but we are a nation which is increasingly moving right of center. However politically untenable the situation may become, I believe the rate of illegal immigration will decrease in the coming decades.  Thus, any increase in the Hispanic population of the United States will be attributable to an increase in birth rates; a development which my statistics suggest will serve MLS well.      

I recently recruited 202 survey participants from the Facebook fan pages of five MLS teams, and Hispanics accounted for 25% of survey participants. I acknowledge the economic bias of my recruitment method; however, I contend the disparity between immigrants and first-generation survey participants is indeed indicative of a trend amongst MLS fans.  

First-generation Americans accounted for 76% of Hispanic respondents, with immigrants accounting for the remaining 24%.  The lack of second-generation Hispanic-Americans, indicates first-generation Hispanic-Americans of the Baby Boomer generation assimilated into American culture through football, basketball and baseball, and did not communicate a passion for soccer to their children.  First-generation Hispanic-Americans from Generation X did not face the discrimination of their predecessors, and gravitated to soccer without the fear of being ostracized.  This generation will produce a second-generation of Hispanic-Americans whom share a passion for soccer with their fathers.  However, to maximize the potential of the Hispanic demographic, MLS must attract more Mexican-Americans to its games.       

Mexican-Americans account for 68% of Hispanics in the United States, but only 30% of Hispanic survey respondents.  It has been theorized that Mexican-Americans have been slow to adopt MLS because of the availability of Mexican First Division matches on Spanish language television in the United States.  Mexican-Americans can continue to follow teams in their native country, unlike their Central and South American counterparts.  Furthermore, the escalating rivalry amongst the national teams of Mexico and the United States, inhibits many Mexican immigrants from accepting any form of American soccer.  Mexican immigrants’ indignation towards American soccer will not transcend generations.

MLS provides first-generation Hispanic-Americans the opportunity to define their American identity, without abandoning their cultural attachment to the sport of soccer.  First-generation Hispanic-Americans from Generation X have proven that they will embrace MLS.  Therefore, it stands to reason that first-generation Hispanic-Americans of the Millennial generation will continue to gravitate to the league.  Their support, in conjunction with their second-generation counterparts, provides a reassuring confidence to MLS; the only professional sports league which is expanding domestically.

Written by Peter Amador

May 12, 2010 at 9:27 AM

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