09 Nov Sports Marketing Spotlight: Baseball Sponsorships
This year’s World Series match-up between the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians was a surreal experience that drove fans to tune in across the nation. Game 1 of the series drew the highest viewership since 2009 hitting 19.4 million and the epic Game 7 inning finally broke the 1991 Game 7 record of 50 million viewers reaching just under 70 million! As more people are tuning in, the doors have opened for far more sports marketing sponsorship opportunities with big value.
PLAY BALL! Customized Virtual Ads
There’s a lot on the line for the players and fans, and there’s also a huge opportunity for smart outreach marketing. Baseball fans lucky enough to be sitting in the stands this October have likely spotted a green screen behind home plate. However, fans watching the games on television instead see customized virtual signage that has been tailored to their specific geographic region. During the World Series, 32 brands have been advertising across six dedicated TV feeds, with big-hitters including Anheuser-Busch, Delta Airlines, T-Mobile, and Pepsi. The virtual ad benefit for sponsors? A more integrated program that gives access to on-ground activation in addition to standard television ads.
Home Run Strategies
Despite the outcome of the World Series, there is one team that has proven to be a winner even when they’re not in a race for the pennant. In San Francisco, the Giants have leveraged experiential marketing strategies to create a unique ballpark experience that is appealing to both crowds and sponsors. Recognized as the fourth most valuable team in the MLB, the franchise has signed lucrative partnerships with brands like AT&T, Coca-Cola, Levi’s, PlayStation, Yahoo and Salesforce.com.
As part of its success, the marketing team has been able to tap into consumer engagement through amenities like @Café, a social media hub which streams fans’ social media content on big-screens and offers a virtual reality experience to “spend a day” at spring training camp. To bridge the brand and the Giants’ fan base, the team also capitalizes on the personalities of fans’ favorite players, and regularly recruits them to promote special events at AT&T Park. By having the most likeable and marketable athletes on the team do cross promotions, the end result has been a growing fan engagement program that is garnering attention both on and off the field.
One of the most creative experiential campaigns we’ve seen recently in baseball was the 2015 “Fenway Park AirBNB”. Red Sox fans were encouraged to visit AirBNB.com and explain why they deserved to spend the night in the iconic stadium. The winner received the experience of a lifetime; a luxurious evening under the stars, along with a team meet & greet. It’s the ultimate face-to-face (or face-to-pillow) sports marketing campaign.