Emotions amplify our memories, and sports amplify our emotions. Any impression your sponsors make on a fan will be that much more salient simply because it happens at a live sporting event. They better get it right. In-stadium advertising has to do more than be seen. It has to do something for the fans, improving their experience in some tangible and emotional way. Digital activations aren’t rendering static signage obsolete: static ads were already there.
Read more below 👇
Sports Fan Behavior Is Changing
Fans will do some pretty crazy things for their teams. Not long ago, there was only so much they could do, and most of it happened exclusively at the stadium on game day. In those days, you could use the words “fan” and “spectator” interchangeably. Being a fan is now a 24/7 activity. Fans are content consumers, content creators, leaders within subcommunities of fans, the drivers of change and the demanders of more and better. Fans don’t even need to leave home to be superfans. They involve themselves with their team wherever they go, and they expect their team to be there with them.
Teams and sponsors have to work together to bring fans to the stadium. Once fans are there, you need to give them some reason to want to come back again. Passive advertising does nothing for your fans. Sponsors can no longer put an ad up in the background and expect it to pierce through all the other images the fans are seeing. And they certainly cannot expect it to move the fans to action when it provides no emotional content or interactivity. If the message does so little, for how long will the sponsor keep paying?
No one Instagrams a dasher board unless they own the company or their favorite player passes by it. But when people are watching their favorite team, winning prizes and doing something worth sharing, the pics ensure it happened. Ad boards never had power, just presence. They were visual background noise, and unlike the actual background noise of buzzing and roaring fans, courtside logos can’t add to the fan experience. Fans are not passively looking around your stadium. If they want to watch a highlight, they’re whipping out their phones. So much for your sponsor who paid for those replay screen spots.
Are the divisional rivals winning right now? The phone is the new out-of-town scoreboard, so that’s where sponsors need to engage your fans. The nature of static advertising precludes it from enriching the fan experience, and you from measuring the outcome. Did seeing the name on your façade or the concourse diorama help the fan have a better night? Of course not, and if they did, how would you know it?
Unless your sponsor activated around those displays, they did nothing for the fans or the sponsor, and that proves the point: it was the activation, not the display.
Don’t tell the players, but the fans are the most important people in the stadium. With the demands they set for their entertainment and engagement, they need to know that you know this. Fans go to games to see games, not ads. When they’re not watching the game, don’t give them an ad: give them your game. SQWAD’s digital activations let your sponsors market during the big game by delivering fun, branded games to the fans’ phones. Instead of just seeing your sponsors, fans are engaging with them. And engagement is not just more measurable than exposure, it’s more valuable. We know this because SQWAD provides clients almost immediate data on their campaigns, which show a AB% rate of return. Tangible rewards top off our digital activations. The games give sponsors a way of going home with the fans, in their memories, in their pockets and in their social feeds.
Rich Franklin - VP of Partnerships - Portland Winterhawks