For the Love of Advertising During the Game

“Clear the mechanism.” – Billy Chapel, For Love of the Game

When was the last time you watched a live sporting event? For me, it’s almost a daily occurrence. Whether it’s the sound of a baseball hitting the catcher’s mitt, a basketball swishing gracefully into the netting around the rim, or the roar of a packed, Arrowhead stadium, there is nothing better in life than sports. It turns out, I’m not alone in that feeling. It’s actually quite popular, and that’s the exact reason why your business should cash in on the love of the game.

There’s a certain level of passion associated with sports and fandom. Just ask any Philadelphia fan. They are willing to literally burn down the city they live in and love deeply just to prove their allegiance to the Eagles, Phillies, Flyers, and 76ers. It may seem irrational to the average person, but to a sports fan, it seems…well still pretty irrational, but that’s Philadelphia. The point is that there is passion, excitement, and an innate competitive spirit that lives within each and every sports fan. That deep rooted love creates a unique, emotional connection that presents advertisers with a powerful opportunity to align their messaging with that of the fan, giving way to some of history’s best campaigns.

What’s great about sports marketing is that it’s not one and done. Much like most marketing opportunities, sports advertising allows you to utilize broadcast tv, streaming tv, and various online digital platforms. This helps ensure that you are meeting your audience where they are. On top of the ability to market on multiple platforms, sports marketing gives you the ability to try, try again.

There is no shortage of sporting events. They go year round. This gives your brand ample opportunity to find out who you’re wanting to target, how you want to target them, and then jump right in. If your goal is just to grow brand awareness, football is your sport. 93 of the top 100 television broadcasts in 2023 were NFL games. 3 of the 7 not listed under NFL games were college football games. So what are we learning here? Football reigns supreme in the eyes of the American people, and if you’re looking to get in front of those eyes, sports marketing is the way to do it. 

Another great opportunity for branding and awareness is the Olympics. The competition of the globe’s best athletes kicks off this summer in Paris and will be viewed by billions, yes billions, of people. What viewers look for most during the Olympics is a sense of patriotism, hopefulness, and inspiration. Channel that in your advertising! Even if broadcast television isn’t your forte, you can create meaningful advertisements that lean in to that very trifecta of needs in a digital campaign. Reaching people where they are is the most simple rule of advertising, but giving people what they need is the most obvious, so if you know your audience is craving patriotism, a sense of hope, and the need for inspiration, lean in, because if they’re asking, you should be delivering. 

Something all sports fans know is a sure fire sign of spring isn’t a groundhog sticking its head up looking for a shadow, it’s a 68 team bracket that takes the nation by storm. That’s right, it’s March Madness! According to some of the nation’s top companies, during March Madness, they lose more than $17.8 billion in worker productivity due to the phenomenon that is March Madness. It’s almost guaranteed that there is nary a sports fan around during the NCAA Tournament that isn’t checking the scores, updating their brackets, or calling in sick during the Tournament’s first day. That’s where your business comes in. Find a way to create a Cinderella story out of the productivity issues within businesses and March Madness. Be creative, be fun, be personal, but most importantly, be the sports fan you’re trying to reach.

America’s Pastime, and the first love of my life, baseball has one of the longest seasons in major league sports with 162-regular season games. This gives your business 162 opportunities to reach your target audience, and that’s not even counting the postseason. Often referred to as ‘The Thinking Man’s Game’, baseball is a slower sport that requires more attention from its fans. Even so, the demographic for baseball has been skewing younger and younger in recent years. Major League Baseball has more attendees in the 12 to 17 age group than any other major league sport, their median follower age on the official MLB social platform is 25 to 34, and the rating amongst viewers ages 25-54 ticked up 4% this past season from the year before. Armed with this knowledge, the Boston Red Sox increased their digital ads from 85 to a whopping 300, with the majority of the ads targeting the younger demographic. In that age group, their ticket sales rose from 8,000 per game to 13,000. A nice revenue increase from a simple change in their marketing strategy. Are you seeing the power of sports now?

The beauty of sports marketing is that there are so many wonderful ways to do it. From choosing the sport to deciding your ideal advertising channels, the opportunities within sports marketing begin to feel endless in a way that other types of marketing can’t give you. The best way to begin a sports marketing campaign is by doing your research and figuring out where your current and ideal customers are. From there it’s all about execution. But if you do it right, you’ll knock it out of the park. 

Curious about what sports marketing looks like? Check out some of our favorite campaigns below!

Chevrolet – MLB

This commercial is one that I remember so vividly from being a kid. What makes the commercial so special is the catchyness of the song. I still sing it to this day and know that it’s a Chevy ad and there wasn’t even a car shown. That’s effective advertising.

P&G – Olympics

Remember the three keys to a successful Olympic ad? Patriotism, inspiration, and hopefulness. This ad has them all.

State Farm – Basketball

Good ole Jake from State Farm strikes again with a witty, funny, and memorable commercial starring Jimmy Butler, Reggie Miller and basketball phenom Caitlin Clark. State Farm uses sports marketing better than any brand on the market. They’ve got a commercial for every sport you can imagine. Just ask Mahomes and MaAuto. 

Visa – Football

NFL star Christian McCaffrey takes center stage in this humorously heartwarming Visa commercial. What makes this commercial special is how little you actually see Visa. It’s simply telling a story, and that’s the beauty of proper sports marketing.

What’s your favorite example of sports marketing?

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