Sports tend to stir the public’s passions unlike anything else. They bring out people’s animal instincts, getting them shouting, crying, laughing and nervously quivering. They’re probably as close to a life or death struggle as most people will face in their lives. For these reasons, they’re eminently marketable.
But while sports organisations often have an excellent product to sell, they find themselves a competitive field. They’re fighting against umpteen other sports groups – both within their own league and outside of it – for the affection of the public. The best way to get eyes pointing their way is to be creative; to give the public a taste of what they can offer in a unique way.
And some organisations are better at this than others.
Orlando City FC – Scavenger Hunt
Orlando City FC joined Major League Soccer in 2015. With soccer/football being somewhat of a fringe sport in the US, and new teams often struggling to find supporter bases, Orlando City needed something creative to get eyes trained their way.
They came up with the idea of a social media scavenger hunt. They placed tickets to an upcoming game around downtown Orlando, and posted clues as to their whereabouts on social media. They used Twitter, Instagram and Periscope to broadcast the clues, and then used the same social accounts to keep followers up to date on who managed to find the tickets.
It was a simple, cheap, and effective campaign, which got potential fans’ competitive juices flowing. They used each platform perfectly, creating an image puzzle on Instagram, using Periscope’s live feed to capture winners’ reactions, and tweeting important updates on Twitter with the hashtag #PurpleFriday.
Sports England – #Thisgirlcan
The government agency Sports England is tasked with getting British citizens involved in sport, to curb the nation’s trend toward obesity. They noticed that when it came to social sports, 2 million more men take part in the UK than women. Their research showed that issues with image – both appearance and ability – were the biggest reasons that women weren’t keen to get involved.
The campaign that they came up with has since hit the headlines for all the right reasons. Sports England had noticed a distinct lack of ‘real’ women in sports advertising. They were all taut, toned and athletic. So they used street casting to find examples of everyday British women exercising. Slogans such as ‘I jiggle, therefore I am’ were emblazoned across billboards, accompanied by a picture of a normal woman out for a run.
The campaign was a resounding success, with stats showing that 2.8 million women (more than the amount that were previously lacking from social sports) had done some or more activity as a result of seeing the campaign, and a further 1.6 million said that they’d started exercising.
EA Sports – The Giferator
Madden NFL, the wildly popular American Football game, probably didn’t need a helping hand when it came to getting its name out there. But in combination with Google, EA Sports took Madden’s marketing even further prior to the release of its 2015 iteration.
They created a GIF generator, or ‘giferator’, which allowed people to create custom GIFs of whichever player they choose doing their favourite moves, taunts and celebrations. The team also created GIF versions of match highlights, giving fans a fun way to relive the weekend’s action. It was a huge success, allowing creative NFL fans to do the hard work by generating the content themselves.
Betfair – Back Yourself
You don’t usually associate betting agencies with altruism, which is perhaps why this particular Betfair campaign is so noteworthy. While betting on yourself is a fast route to a lifetime ban in most sports, Betfair have offered participants in the London Marathon the opportunity to do just that.
The idea was to allow runners to place a £20 bet (with the money fronted by Betfair) on themselves to complete the marathon within their target time. If they completed the marathon within their mark, they could then donate the £20, plus the winnings calculated by Betfair odds, to the charity of their choice. If they didn’t succeed, Betfair donated the £20 to Cancer Research UK.
It was a win/win for marathoners; there was simply no reason to not do it. And because of this, Betfair received an inordinate amount of very good publicity off the back of it.
Sports are ripe for social media marketing. They stir emotions, and get people interested and engaged. Add a bit of creativity to the mix, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for social media marketing success.