The Best Emotional Sports Promos

February 10, 2014

We all know the sports industry is different. One of the key reasons is that we are emotionally attached to our favorite club or team, very different from the relationships we have with for example our telco provider or energy supplier.

Club promotions very often focus on the product they are trying to sell (e.g. by focusing on the game, the price or the players) and leave out the unique opportunity they have of promoting the club by focusing on the emotional feelings and bond between the club and the fan. A number of clubs, however, have put together fantastic promos, some of which are even strong enough to bring the feeling of pride and emotion over to people who are not even (yet) fans.

Below is a compilation of the Best Emotional Sports promos – videos that in different ways play on that emotional bond between club and fan.

#1. Manchester United – season ticket campaign

#2. Nebraska Football – “Through These Gates”

#3. Borrussia Dortmund “One Club, One Game, One Dream”

#4. Tennessee Football – Bulletproof

#5. Thank You To Barclays Premier League Fans

#6. Texas A&M Football, There’s A Spirit Campaign

#7. Borussia Dortmund #echteliebe

#8. Thank You Fans Philadelphia Eagles 

#9. This City – Manchester City

#10. South Carolina “Here” campaign

Which promo did you like best? Do you know of any other great promos out there that deserve to make the list? Write a comment below or share via twitter (@krisgotsch). Let the future bring us more of these types of promos instead of the ones “just” pitching the product.


The Real 12th Man – and it ain’t the Fans

September 10, 2013

The fans of a club are often considered the “12th man” and clubs are increasingly focusing on improving the relationship between the club and its fans.

Connecting and engaging with fans happens in various ways, but using players or coaches to support these efforts, always bring an extra dimension and added value in the eyes of fans. Contrary to other industries a large part of a club’s product is its people and using them in for example marketing and communication ensures that the connection between club and fan becomes personal.

MascotA staff member that is actively used at games to connect with fans is the club or team mascot. The majority of the mascot’s time, however, is spend lying somewhere in a storage space and although some clubs occasionally use him for charity events or kid’s events around town, a quick scan of mascot activities throughout the world reveals great opportunities for clubs in terms of using their mascot A LOT more to connect with fans.

Here just a few examples:

Celebrate the mascot’s OWN birthdayDanish club AaB sold out birthday party for mascot Theodor

Create identity on social mediaEmma (mascot of Borrusia Dortmund) interacts with 50,000 fans on Facebook

Entertain fansNFL mascots took on youth team during half time show and NBA mascot dance off

Share the mascot’s personal lifeGunnersaurus (mascot of Arsenal) blogs online about his life and whereabouts

Celebrate birthdays book Grizz (mascot of the Memphis Grizzlies) for a fan’s birthday

Use for a good cause –  Phillie Phanatic (mascot of Philadelphia Phillies) and Mr. Met (mascot of New York Mets) dine together for a good cause

Connect with childrenthis presentation says enough

Appearances on non-game days (a classroom full of kids, retail promotions, school fundraisers, corporate events, parades, wedding receptions etc)  – GNASH (mascot of Nashville Predators) does all of that including in-game greetings

Include in sponsor packageBiG Lupus (mascot of Chester FC) is a key part of sponsor deal with BiG Storage

Get more than one mascotColorado Rapids has four!

Players and coaches are bound by contracts and not always available or willing to participate in club campaigns or engagement activities. The mascot, however, is a special type of staff member and sometimes even a better way to engage and connect with fans, in particular, but not only, the younger ones. To clubs the mascot is literally the club’s real 12th man.

What are other great mascot initiatives that you have seen?

Who will seize the win-win-win opportunity?

August 1, 2013

ColorrunAccording to various sources up to 25% of all residents in Europe and North America go for a jog or a run on a regular basis. This would mean that 25% of for example of football club’s fans are runners.

Since Nike and Adidas (the world’s biggest running equipment suppliers) also happen to be the two biggest kit and merchandise sponsors to sports clubs, here is an idea that could benefit sponsor, club and fan; a running event for the fans organized by the sponsor and club.

The running event (e.g. a 5k event) would be organized so that for example the start and the finish would be at the club’s home stadium – something several major marathon events are already doing successfully.

For simplicity sake, let us call it the “Real Madrid Run” or even better the “Adidas Real Madrid Run” – to get the sponsor integrated in the event. Fans of the club would be invited to come join the run and also invite friends and family to join. Running events are growing at rapid pace around the world and themed running events are growing even faster (e.g. the Color Run concept taking the world by storm at the moment).

What is in it for the CLUB?

QuoteFor the club it means an extra event and a way to show that the club focuses on health and fitness (not only of its players but also of its fans). Furthermore, that unique Adidas Real Madrid Run running shirt that will be used and sold for the event will drive revenue and will transform into running “billboards” for the club for years when the thousand of runners go on their training runs and participate in other events in the future.

What is in it for the SPONSOR?

Adidas in this case connects two of its biggest markets, football and running. Furthermore, they connect with the fans in a highly sympathetic way and enrich their Real Madrid and Adidas experience – not to mention the great platform for its number one running product; shoes. In the case of football, a male dominated fan environment, extending the involvement with the club by organizing a running event will also reach out to more women and children. At some running events, more than half of the participants are women.

What is in it for the FAN?

Imagine a warm up by a star player of Real Madrid, the thrill of running through the streets of Madrid in your Real Madrid running shirt, joined by thousands of other Real Madrid fans, all running towards the finish line in Bernabéu …. an experience no fan will ever forget!

Look forward to see which club (or sponsor, e.g. Nike and Adidas) will seize this win-win-win opportunity.

Thanks to @rendeluitjesjr for sharing ideas on this topic.

From (Gu)estimates to Realistic Fan Bases

July 10, 2013

ManUtdEndThe world’s biggest football club, Manchester United, launched its official Twitter account today.

The club started out by posting exclusive pictures, communicating widely about their new initiative (e.g. via mail and their website) and by the end of day 1 the club sits well above 300k followers!

The Twitter account is important to many of the club’s fans and it gives Manchester United the same possibilities to connect with fans as all other clubs have via that platform.

What social media presence also brings, however, is some clarity in relation to the various numbers being thrown around about how many fans the club has worldwide.

Why is this important? This number is not only key to sponsors and (media) partners but is also the best way the club can set realistic targets when it comes to their CRM activities.

Professional sports clubs don’t only compete with each other on the field, but also when it comes to number of fans – Manchester United is claiming to have 659 million fans, FC Barcelona is mentioning 349 million fans and many other clubs using numbers based on various types of research and (gu)estimates.

Having all professional sports clubs present on both Facebook and Twitter now (and most clubs having gone through the period of double digit growth rates), the numbers and data behind the accounts can help clubs get a better understanding of their fan base both in terms of size, location and profiles etc.

ManUtdWebsiteLooking at the numbers only, the number of people that a club connects with via social media has become the best way to measure the number of fans a club has (bearing in mind that a few factors need to be considered). If clubs look a bit beyond the numbers, social media data combined with other data sources can provide a club with the proper material to set both social media and CRM targets and ambitions accordingly.

Welcome to the “game” Manchester United!

We are all (different) fans

August 31, 2012

Customer segmentation is standard marketing practice in all industries including the world of sports. Dividing fans into groups based on, for example, gender or interests are common practices in sports clubs’ relationship marketing efforts and in “managing” the life cycle of a fan. Standard marketing practices are often sufficient in a club’s strive to properly run marketing campaigns and in developing the relationships with fans. One factor, however, seems to be creating issues for sports clubs, namely the physical location of its fans.

Traditionally, sports clubs considered the population living within a certain radius of the stadium its fan base. Fans would primarily be targeted with game information with the aim of getting as many fans as possible through the gates to attend games. With today’s global reach of sports brands the models and frameworks that have been used in the past no longer apply – or at least have to be adjusted.

The reasons are many, but here just two simple examples: the young fan in India doesn’t need to read in a newsletter from his favorite Premier League club that there are season tickets left. Furthermore, the 30 year old fan in Munich should be kept up to date with club news but definitely also be aware of the fact that a “weekend Premier League game” package is available for him (and friends) to get a once in a lifetime experience at a home game.

The fact that top sport clubs are turning into global brands increases complexity but also the importance of segmenting properly and providing fans the right information at the right time through the right channels. In order to succeed, this article proposes that sports clubs simply divide fans into three groups dependent on their physical location in relation to the location of the club. Hereby distance is added into the marketing mix, something that can yield great results for club and fans:

1. Game attending fan: Fans in the local area where traditional segmentation and current marketing strategies can be used. Clubs need to, however, pay special attention to the fact that they are not alienating these fans in their strive to get the biggest piece of the global fan base pie. Furthermore, clubs need to take the rise of the “glocal sports fan” into account as this not only brings an opportunity to the club but also a threat.

2. Once in a lifetime game attending fan: Sports tourism or “Weekend in Manchester incl. Manchester United game” is becoming more and more popular. The previously mentioned fan in Munich will not attend games regularly but the highlight of his fan experience may very well be a visit to a game at his favorite club in England. The rest of the fan experience will mainly come through media and purchases (of content, products etc).

3. Content fan: Fans consuming content but most likely never to set foot inside or near the physical location of their favorite team. These fans still want the optimal experience and although no game tickets will ever be purchased today’s technology allows for multiple possibilities when it comes to content consumption (both paid and non-paid) and game experience.

Most major clubs have extensive knowledge and experience with the first group but no club has yet managed to successfully build up strong relationships with all three groups. For example, as a sports fan living in the Netherlands, I today:

  • Received a mail from a top Premier League club addressing its global audience with a competition to win tickets to games (with a little note stating that the competition is only to UK residents!)
  • Was invited to participate in a survey from another Premier League club, where one of the questions asks how many games I as a fan attend per season – the minimum being 1!
  • Read an email newsletter from a NBA team that I was invited to take part in a number of club activities at various Japanese restaurants in California!
  • Signed up via an English language registration page to receive a newsletter from a top European club, only to receive the newsletter in Russian!

What can clubs do to better engage with their “Once in a lifetime game attending fans” or “Content fans” and stop making the basic mistakes as mentioned above?

  • Realize that traditional marketing and standard CRM thinking don’t apply in this new context
  • Seek to understand how each of the three groups perceive the club and experience the relationship they have or would like to have with the club

Following this, it is time to look into how CRM can support the club’s relationship building with fans (incl. language specific websites, product offers to international fans, communication, social media etc). Until this happens the fan in India will keep receiving credit card offers only applicable to UK residents and the fan in Munich will not be “tempted” to come and spend a weekend in Manchester to see his favorite team play.

The challenge of not having Messi and Abramovich

August 14, 2012

This very first guest blog post on Loyalsticity is written by Jacob Holm. Jacob has built up his expertise through extensive analysis of the football industry. In this exclusive post he gives his view on a common challenge to many sports clubs.

We all know the clubs: Manchester United where Old Trafford is packed to 98-99% of its capacity at every home game, Bayern Munich that had all its home match tickets for the coming season (69,000 seats) sold out 1½ month before first match, and Barcelona where it is not uncommon to see around 95.000 spectators at Camp Nou.

But what can football clubs do to attract spectators, when Messi is not in the squad and when they do not have Abramovich to buy the “new Maradona”? And what can they do when they are not in this superior league of exclusive clubs with long traditions of winning the domestic league and European cups? The answer to this question might be found by analyzing two clubs which are not even close to winning any national or international championships.

37,000 spectators in fourth division

Santa Cruz, Brazil. A football club without a long tradition of winning trophies. Yet, in Serie D (Brazil’s fourth division) in last season Santa Cruz had an average of 37,000 spectators for home matches – the highest average number of spectators in Brazil. Number two on the list was the giant club, Corinthians (last season’s Brazilian champions), with “only” 29,000 spectators per home game.

The characteristics of Santa Cruz are, among others, that the club is known for being an open and including club. The club was one of the first in Brazil to attract and include players of different ethnic backgrounds. This meant that the club had an appeal to a broader population in and around the city. It increased the numbers of people that the club could create relationships with.

The German outsiders

St. Pauli, Germany. A club playing in the 2nd Bundesliga without a booming trophy room and without star players. However, the lack of trophies and star players has not affected the loyalty of the fans. St. Pauli has 19 million fans in Germany which is very close to Bayern Munich, the most popular team in Germany, with 20.7 million fans. The large and loyal fan base shows in the numbers of season tickets sold: 16,000.

What has St. Pauli done to attract so many spectators? Just as Santa Cruz, St. Pauli is known for being an open and inclusive club and have managed to attract fans of many different kinds. For example, at St. Pauli females have been highly prioritized resulting in the highest part of female spectators in Germany. Furthermore, St. Pauli has included its fans in decision-making which give them a feeling of empowerment and being a part of the club. Fans have a say in decisions such as stadium design and ticket prices. As the team manager, Christian Böning says: “We invest more in bricks than in legs…” This statement is backed up by the chairman of the Bundesliga, Christian Seifert, who says that: “…clubs’ strategy with moderate prices, great comfort and safety is of course assisting in attracting spectators”. In fact, this strategy has been very successful – the average number of spectators in the Bundesliga has increased with 50% in a 10-year period.

Some might argue that not investing in (star) players will lead to a lower support from the fans, and thus, a lower turnover. However, St. Pauli has proven this argument to be insufficient. The club has both one of the largest fan bases in Germany and increased its sponsor income because sponsors are interested in being associated with a team with passionate fans and with a broad appeal.

Increasing number of spectators and stronger fan relationships

Clubs without a booming trophy room and without star players have to find alternatives to attract spectators and create relationships with fans. An important point from this analysis is to listen and be open-minded to supporters, whether they are existing fans or if it is new segments that have to be attracted. And even more important is it to implement what the fans want (if financially possible). The Football Supporters Federation, a grassroots movement in England which has 180.000 members and which is the voice of millions of fans, conducted a survey among its members to uncover what fans really wanted. The highest prioritized area was ticket prices (prices had to be decreased). Next on the list were better service and higher safety at the stadiums. These three areas are (incidentally?) also the components that Santa Cruz and St. Pauli applied to attract spectators.

Furthermore, if clubs have a broad appeal, just as Santa Cruz and St. Pauli, it opens different opportunities, such as more segments to target and increased sponsor income, which ultimately can lead to increased profits.

Santa Cruz and St. Pauli have both proved that smaller clubs can attract more spectators, create strong relationships and even run a sound business by focusing on the experience, listen to the fans and implement what they want. And this can be done even without having Messi in the squad or Abramovich to operate in the VIP lounge.

Go to where the fans are – and increase merchandise sales

June 7, 2012

In the last decade there have been many changes to the retail landscape, one of the most important ones being the shift towards online sales. Another change that has occurred is that, where possible, retailers have moved closer to where consumers are rather than wait for the consumers to simply walk into the shop. The best examples hereof are the duty-free shops at airports and gift shops at amusement parks. In the past one would have to look for the duty-free shop or the gift shop, but nowadays it is literally impossible to avoid these. At airports this means that everyone will be channelled through the duty-free shop, e.g. after leaving the security check section. At amusement parks this means being led through the gift shop when exiting the park and being tempted to buy that one item that you just didn’t know you needed or wanted.

The (dis)advantage of fan shops

Sports fan shops are mostly located at the stadium (and sometimes in the city centre) and  it is far from all fans who visit the fan shop on game day (not to say during the week where there is nothing else going on at the stadium).  Furthermore, many fans don’t even consider purchasing merchandise, they are hardly ever exposed to it and only seldom does buying merchandise happen als an impulse purchase.

Could sports clubs not copy what the airports and amusement parks have done? The immediate answer is no. The reason has to do with the movement of people which is very different at a sports complex. At sports events fans enter and exit the premises within very short time periods so having all fans walk through the fan store would be as impossible as having all fans enter the stadium via one entrance.

Bring the shop to the fans – not the fans to the shop

Back to the biggest development in retail this past decade; the online store. How about if sports clubs – instead of only having stand alone online merchandise webshops which might be linked to via their webpage – led EVERY fan who visits the club website through the merchandise webshop first? Club websites are by far the most used source for information for sports fans and club sites get thousands of visits every day. Some clubs use flash banners to promote specific items but instead of this (very often annoying) way of marketing, a fan could be welcomed in the virtual fan store and spend 15 seconds before entering the club website browsing through the latest merchandise items, the items on sale and get that impulse or desire to purchase something. Imagine that you are a fan visiting your favorite sports club website. And while you enter the site, you are virtually being exposed to the coolest items of the club you didn’t even know were available. No fan would mind.

There are many other opportunities when it comes to the improvement of fan shops, but this is definitely one which does not cost large sums of money (e.g. in terms of moving or restructuring the actual physical fan shop). This is also an example where a sports club could partner up with a local technology partner to develop a solution which will bring fans closer to the products and increase the interest in these. So at the end of the day it will drive more revenue for the club – just like the duty-free shops have done for the airports and the gift shops have done for the amusement parks.

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