How Brands Can Activate At Sporting Events


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Awareness Globally 

We all have our favorite sports team, player, or even jersey design for those of us who are not die-hard sports fans. However, I would argue that sports are an aspect of everyday life for the majority of us that live in America - and even those globally. Whether it be through the NHL, MLB, NBA, or NFL, all the way to the English Premier League, sporting events offer brands an incredible opportunity to raise awareness through on-site experiential activations, branding, gifting, and much, much more. 

Games of high caliber - like the recent Stanley Cup Finals - bring in fans and viewers from all demographics, locations, socio-economic classes, and other descriptors that allow brands to showcase who they are and what they do. Sporting events not only allow brands to increase awareness but also allow companies to get creative in their marketing strategies. In this blog, Hollywood Branded discusses ways how brands can activate at sporting events. 

How Brands Can Activate At Sporting Events

Now, What Inspired Me To Write This Blog?

This is a question that I always wonder when I am reading someone else's blog or work - why are they writing this? Well, here is my reason: I am still on a high from the Colorado Avalanche winning the Stanley Cup this season after defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2 in the series! As a sports fan who grew up in Denver, nothing beats seeing your hometown team win a Championship! 

I was lucky enough to travel back home to Denver to go to Game 2 of the series - and yes, the Avs won that game by a whopping 7-0! 

Of course, the game was exciting and was the main focus - however, as someone working in brand partnerships, I couldn't help but notice all the brand activations before, during, and after the game. My favorite was the classic game where fans have to guess which item a puck would be under after it gets tossed, spun, and jumped around the big screen. I have to admit - I didn't get it right this time, but what I did love was how this whole game was a brand activation for Truly Hard Seltzer. 

One lucky fan - with the help of the whole arena - had to guess which can of Truly was the puck underneath. Through this, Truly was able to get brand messaging across, while also getting some great product shots, as well as gift the contestant with a Truly Gift Bag after guessing correctly! Even though this activation was short - probably 3-5min - it allowed Truly to be the center of attention by the whole arena for that short amount of time. Everyone knew who the brand was, its product, and its messaging. Truly also had branding throughout the game besides this activation. 

What I thought tied this activation together was that everywhere that I went in the arena to buy an (alcoholic, of course) drink, the seltzers that were being offered were all Truly - and I definitely had one too many - but hey, don't judge because my team won!! 

Truly NHL Partnerships

Source: NHL

What Are Other Ways That Brand Can Activate At Games?

Besides sponsoring a fun game, there are tons of other ways that brands can market at large sporting events. Whether it be through a branded photo wall or on-site activations brands can be seen and noticed in this setting. Continuing reading below to learn more about these three options!  

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#1 - Branded Photo Opportunities 

This is something that is continuously effective - branded photos, a photo wall, or even a branded photo booth. There is nothing better than capturing the moment of a goal or your time at a game than through photos. Of course, the majority of these photos are taken off of your phone. However, through apps like Snapchat, brands can create a filter that is interactive and branded for the game and the team, while also showcasing brand logos and messaging. This is a fun and unique way that brands can get involved in the world of social media but also attribute their likeness to a sporting event. 

If apps aren't the desired marketing strategy, brands can also create a step-and-repeat for fans to take pictures in front of during the game in the arena or have it set up outside. These always engage fans because it allows them to feel like a celebrity for a hot moment because of the red carpet-like backdrop. 

Photo booths are also making a popular comeback, with more and more people liking the idea of physical photos. Having a branded photo booth that has the brand logo on the pictures is also a fun and unique way to get noticed! 

Step and Repeat Red Carpet

Source: Step and Repeat LA

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#2 - Branded Experiential Activations With Gifting

Everyone loves an experience and a free gift. Experiential activations allow fans to directly interact with your products or services before, during, or after a sporting event. 

Let's say you are a food company wanting to get into the sports scene but also gain new customers from different demographics. What better way to accomplish this than by either setting up an on-site activation where fans are able to taste and sample your food? 

Imagine thousands of fans taking a sample, loving it, then going to the grocery store and noticing your brand and associating with their favorite sports team and then recalling how good your food was? Of course, they will buy it! 

You can also set up fun branded games - like Corn Hole - and if a person makes the shot they can walk away with a gift card or discount code. In my opinion, the more interactive the better! 

Bud Light Brand Activation Sports Event

Source: Event Marketer


Beyond the two options mentioned above, there are countless ways that your brand can be incorporated into sporting events beyond just traditional linear media buys (especially for those who can't afford the multi-million dollar media spots). 

For brand association that companies get by aligning themselves with a sports team is one that is hard to replicate. If you are aligned with a team, think of all their die-hard fans that want to not only support their team, but also the sponsors around it! Fans think that they are helping their team if they are helping their sponsors - which they are! 

If you are a brand looking to get into the sports world - give us a shout! We'd love to help. 

If you want to learn more about marketing around sports, check out the other blogs below written by our team: 

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