The Best Sports Marketing Campaigns of All Time
Published on February 7, 2023
These professional teams went above and beyond to create some of the best sports marketing campaigns local fans have ever seen
When you’re running social media for a sports team, the competitive spirit can extend to your department. How much can you do with a small budget? What innovative ideas can get fans talking?
Creating that ideal campaign is challenging, even for the most successful teams.
There is, however, plenty you can do to make your team shine on digital media. Whether you’ve hit a creative dry spell or your working with a limited budget, we’re sharing some of the best sports marketing campaigns we’ve seen in recent years to help stoke your creative fires and brainstorm new ways to leverage all types of social media for your team.
3 of the best sports marketing campaigns (and why they worked)
1. Green Collar Baseball – The Oakland Athletics
Beginning with the 2010 baseball season and ending with the 2016 season, the Oakland Athletics ran their award-winning “green collar baseball” campaign. The A’s were up against teams with higher payrolls, nicer stadiums, and better food. So, instead of accepting defeat, they decided to embrace the fact that they weren’t white collar or blue collar, but a green collar team.
Working with an advertising agency, they released fully-integrated campaigns that featured TV commercials, as well as print, outdoor, and digital advertisements. The A’s positioned themselves as a creative, young team that tries extra hard, hustles, and has a lot of fun. After just the first year of the campaign, the A’s sold over 40,000 more single-game tickets than the previous year.
Why this campaign worked: First and foremost, it was hilarious. The team knew it couldn’t compete with the big guys in many ways, so it played to its strengths instead. Also, instead of just doing TV commercials, they recognized the benefits of an integrated campaign that included digital. All of their videos are online where fans can watch and share them over and over again.
Keep fans informed and watch your branding efforts come to life with Everwall. For folks at home, you can even embed the feed on your team’s website. Start building your social wall today!
2. #WhatsYourGoal – Chicago Blackhawks
#WhatsYourGoal was a social media campaign for hockey team the Chicago Blackhawks. Their goal was to make a difference in the community, and create a deeper connection between fans and the players. Fans were encouraged to submit personal goals via Twitter and Facebook, using the hashtag #WhatsYourGoal. Over 21,000 fans participated; the team helped winners fulfill their goals, and documented and shared everything online.
In one hockey season, the team reached 46 million fans on Facebook and 24 million of those people engaged with the content. The Blackhawks also received 4.5 million impressions on Twitter, and it has gone down in history as one of the best sports marketing campaigns ever.
Why this campaign worked: The Blackhawks found the sweet spot of emotional content that connects with their community. We all have goals and dreams, but people also love watching others reach their goals as well because it’s inspiring and positive. We also love that the Blackhawks used free social platforms like Twitter and Facebook to create far-reaching campaign. They proved you don’t need a huge advertising budget to make a significant impact—just a catchy hashtag.
3. All Eyes North – Minnesota Timberwolves
Before the 2017-2018 basketball season, the Minnesota Timberwolves underwent an offseason rebrand—and that included revamping its marketing campaigns. The team changed its hashtag from “#PowerofthePack to #AllEyesNorth, paying tribute to the team’s geographical location and the organization’s overall mindset.
The team added “All Eyes North” to new designs on advertisements, t-shirts, digital displays, and in the arena. They committed to the new slogan, started using the hashtag, and went all in.
Why this campaign worked: Rebrands have the potential to go terribly wrong. People aren’t always willing to accept change. But because the Timberwolves’ kickoff commercial was so well done, it got fans on board from the get-go. This is one of the best sports marketing campaigns, in our book, by its ability to strike a delicate balance between inspiration and an explanation of the new slogan in an emotional way.
Shake the myth that bigger is better
Yes, the teams featured above do have pretty decent marketing budgets. Maybe you do, too—or not. But all of these sports marketing campaigns would have likely still been successful without creating expensive TV commercials. They all use ideas that translate to social media and only require a modest budget to produce.
The growing trends in sports marketing point to small, targeted campaigns versus big and bold. For example, the British advertising agency Cake was retained to make a series of ads for BBC Sport to promote the Winter Olympics. These weren’t intense, expensive TV ads, though—they were Snapchat and Instagram ads that were only about 3 or 4 seconds long. The ads worked, too. Cake says “engagement measurements showed these ads were up to 4 times more effective than other attempts to reach this demographic.”
What can you do to create one of the best sports marketing campaigns of all time? Use the examples above and remember the importance of creating an interactive experience, engaging fans (whether it be with emotion, humor, etc.), and making the best of your available resources.
Increase in-person and offline engagement by creating a hashtag for your sports events and using Everwall to keep track and display them all!
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