Sponsorships have always presented interesting and multidimensional content opportunities to position a brand and engage current or potential customers. A well-developed content strategy is a great way for brands to leverage the sponsorship for deeper engagement with the audience.
Sponsorships have seen some shifts that create a need for content and engagement – shifts in how the 24/7/365 media cycle has blended the off-season and regular season of all sports. Thanks in part to digital and social media, brands can now enable real-time engagement with fans and participants. Full year engagement and real-time opportunities during an event offers sponsors a longer window to engage fans, satisfy an unmet need of theirs (via entertaining or helpful content) and tell their brand’s story.
Examples to Emulate
I’ve cherry picked a few great examples of brands leveraging sponsorship or event activations with compelling, engaging content. They all provide consumer value (helpful or entertaining content), reinforce the brand position and seamlessly integrate the product into the story.
Red Bull is the leading example of how a brand can completely commit to event, sports and sponsorship content to establish a brand position and build a global brand. Red Bull is clear regarding who their target customer is, and what their brand story is all about as they work to engage those customers. Over time, they’ve sponsored existing events and athletes that fit their brand message while also building credibility by producing great extreme sport content.
That has enabled them to brand further and create their own events, which then become the content. Red Bull now supports a lot globally, but what’s the highlight of their recent work? Needless to say, the Felix Baumgartner leap from space. The results? $20 million invested earned 90 million viewers and $80 million in media impact. A job well done.
Verizon has made a substantial sponsorship investment in the NFL. At the same time, a mobile device has become an indispensable tool for sports fans to check scores or stats, follow fantasy leagues or communicate with friends during the event. Verizon has leveraged the relationship to reach sports fans, engage them with entertaining content, reinforce brand positions and lead them to information about Verizon products and services to help them better enjoy the game. They’ve also taken advantage of the regular and off-seasons, knowing that fans are engaged throughout the year.
The video below is a great story about a college star on the eve of the draft. The story seamlessly integrates products and a consumer (fan) would find it promoted via Verizon paid and owned channels.
Once viewed, the consumer lands in the Sports section within the Verizon Insiders Guide. Other content would include more entertainment oriented pieces, as well as content about Verizon sports related features, and general information about getting a better sports experience by using your phone.
Another great NFL example is Bud Light. They want to provide engaging entertainment to enhance a fan’s NFL experience, integrate their product and reinforce their brand message. They currently have a multi platform “Superstitions” campaign underway—it includes multiple TV spots running on every game day telecast, as well as a live version online. Superstitions are a great way to connect with fans and engage them with a part of the game that directly involves them.
An extension of Bud Light engaging with fans on a local level is the Fan Playbook video series. The series, which includes a long form video as well as several short cuts, tells a story of “fandom” at the local level and is seamlessly shot to include Bud Light (and places and times you’d drink Bud Light) as a key part of the story.
Make the Most of Sponsorships
So, what are some steps to keep in mind when using content as an activation tool to engage fans and target customers? Let’s break it down:
You’ve already vetted the event, sport or activity so it (and its participants) support and enhance your brand message. Of course, these participants or spectators are target customers. Now, let’s take a look from their point of view.
What will enhance the fans experience? Consider the fan onsite, as well as those engaging from afar. Think about timing – seasons are now 12 months long and the off-season for a fan can be as engaging as the actual season. Is there an unmet need that is either helpful or entertaining that would add to the event or sponsorship for the fan or participant?
Of those ideas, think about what fits with your brand. What helps further your story?, What places your product in the story as part of the solution?
What does an editorial calendar look like for that content as it relates to fans’ needs as well as the calendar of the sponsorship?
How, when and where would fans want or expect to find that content? Is the consumer need highest before the event, during, or after? If it’s a fan or participant on-site, mobile is the likely delivery. If it’s the fan at home or offsite, it’s likely a second screen opportunity – tablet or laptop. If it’s real time, social is also critical to consider – both for listening to what’s happening among fans and consumers, and as another method of engage.
Knowing content will now be a key part of your activation, be sure to research if your agreement with the event or sponsorship entity give you access that can be leveraged for content. Do you have the necessary rights? Do you have access to the sponsoring entities owned channels to promote your content?
6. Go for the Gold:
Finally, sponsorships or events can accomplish a lot for brand metrics. Content will reinforce this notion and deliver positive ROI on those brand measures. However, once you successfully have a fan/audience/participant engaged in your sponsorship content, you are presented with the opportunity to drive them deeper into your brand experience and guide them onto the purchase path. So, do you have a path to engage them at a deeper level and more directly with your brand?
If you’re lucky enough to work with a brand’s content that holds a sponsorship to something big, by all means do what you can to leverage that opportunity. Share tips you’ve found when creating content for sponsorship events in the comments below.
By Angus Macaulay