7 Sports Event Marketing Campaigns That Worked
Published on January 31, 2023
Get inspired to plan your own successful sports event marketing campaign with a look at some hits from the past
Bad news. There is no recipe for a successful sports event marketing campaign. That’s also good news. Why? Because it means the only thing you need to promote your event is some ingenuity.
The best marketing campaigns, whether for a sports team, a product, or service, all have an authenticity to them that people respond to. What that authenticity is will depend on what you’re promoting and who your fans are.
What IS authenticity in sports event marketing?
In short, it means knowing your audience. Who are they? Who do you want them to be? If you’re promoting a minor league baseball team, maybe you play to the nostalgia of spending a summer evening at the ballpark with your family. For college soccer perhaps your angle is the excitement and non-stop action. Once you determine who your audience is, it’s time for your creativity to take over.
Sports event marketing magic: How it happened and what you can learn from it
1. Orlando City FC
In 2015, Orlando City FC opened their first season as a major league soccer team. Building a fanbase as a new team isn’t always easy, so the club got creative. They hid tickets around the city and invited fans to join the scavenger hunt. The team posted clues on Twitter and Instagram, so the only real expense was the value of the tickets themselves.
The Lesson: You can do a lot even if you don’t have a big marketing budget.
2. The University of Maryland, Baltimore County
UMBC Athletics may have one of the hottest Twitter accounts in college sports. Their approach might fall more under the umbrella of a marketing strategy than a marketing campaign, but there’s no question that their social media team is a hard-working and witty bunch. When the underdog Retrievers (no pun intended) upset top-ranked Virginia in a 2018 basketball tournament, the athletic department’s social media made waves with their unabashed enthusiasm and well-timed, and humorous, digs at detractors.
The Lesson: It’s okay to bring a little edge to your campaign. Sports events are well-known for competitive talk. Your social feed can reflect that, as long as it’s authentic and good-natured.
Increase in-person and offline engagement by creating a hashtag for your sports events and using Everwall to track and display them all! Start building your social wall today!
3. The Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings are a reasonably average football team, with close to a 50-50 split between wins and losses throughout the team’s history. But when it comes to sports event marketing, they are world champions. Their Instagram feed features weekly (during the season) stop-motion claymation videos of their mascot taking on opponents in short, energetic clips. If you try something similar, an Everwall embed can display your fun Instagram posts right on your website, too!
The Lesson: Have some fun.
4. The New Orleans Saints
One of the most defining moments of the 2019 NFL Super Bowl happened two weeks before the game. With less than two minutes left in the playoff game between the Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints, a controversial hit, which wasn’t called by the referee, preceded an eventual loss by the Saints. Saints fans were livid with the NFL, so on Super Bowl Sunday, when by fans’ estimations the Saints should have been playing, the city came alive with a Super Bowl Boycott party.
Instead of watching the Super Bowl, fans took the party to the streets in an epic display of team support. The Saints, who have a near-legendary relationship with fans, Tweeted and retweeted fan videos the entire day, including the hashtags #Saints, #BestFans, and, of course, #WhoDat.
The Lesson: Let your fans take the lead. You never know how great the results might be.
5. Serena Williams
As a tennis star, Serena Williams doesn’t need to market a team or an event. Nonetheless, she has a fan base to engage, and with over 10.6 million followers on Instagram, she’s clearly doing something right. Aside from her talent, fans seem to appreciate the fact that she is unabashedly herself in her posts. There are plenty of the expected images of her on magazine covers or playing tennis, but she’s also very relatable, with the occasional dog picture, lots of photos of her daughter, and even a picture of her as the tired mama who fell asleep on the couch. Who among us can’t relate to at least some of that?
The Lesson: Be real. Share the unglamorous moments, the personal moments, and let your fans know you’re just like them – you just have a different job.
6. Oreo Cookies?
One of the most famous (or infamous) sports event marketing campaigns wasn’t directly sports-related, and, in fact, came from a cookie. When the power went out during the 2013 Super Bowl, the quick-thinking Oreo social media team Tweeted a picture of an Oreo cookie on a plain dark background, with the phrase, “You can still dunk in the dark.” The Tweet blew up and is still the talk of marketing teams across the country today.
The Lesson: Be ready to take advantage of the creative muse.
Kulkea doesn’t exactly market sports events. They do, however, sponsor quite a few events and athletes. Kulkea makes high-quality snow sports gear bags designed specifically to hold ski helmets, boots, and even skis. Their personable Instagram page is winning them fans across the globe, and it doesn’t hurt that there is some beautiful scenery in their posts (along with some cool product placement).
The lesson: Embrace the lifestyle that goes with your sport. Are you promoting kids’ soccer? Don’t be afraid to connect with the parents who are hustling their kids around. Have a big bike race coming up? Feel free to share the trails that cyclists may enjoy exploring.
Display all the social posts from your fans in real-time! Everwall is built to handle large volumes of social posts at stadium events, with filters that help ensure the content shared is family-friendly.
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