MKTG's Favourite Things: Five Activation Trends of 2015
As 2015 comes to a close and we set our sights on 2016, MKTG will take the opportunity to look back at the year that was and highlight some of our “Favourite Things” from the sponsorship world. During the month of December, MKTG will be covering our favorite emerging celebrity endorsers, activation trends, and properties from 2015. Feel like we left something off the list? Comment below, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. MKTG would like to thank your readership and we look forward to providing you with more insights in 2016.
The sponsorship landscape is constantly changing as brands activate around different narratives or adopt new technologies for use in their programming. Like any other sector, the sponsorship industry can gravitate to common trends. By taking note of these trends, sponsorship marketers can begin to understand what is popular in the industry and how it can be leveraged to create a compelling and engaging activation. MKTG breaks down five of the top sponsorship activation trends from 2015.
Fans Became Part of the Action
The concept of virtual reality (VR) has been around for a number of years but it was in 2015 that VR made its way into the mainstream. A number of major brands including Sony, Samsung, and Facebook have all made major investments into their own VR technology. Google also created a low cost VR option that allowed more people than ever to experience the technology with Google Cardboard. There were a number of sponsors that leveraged the technology in new and exciting ways. Brands created onsite activations using VR like American Express at the US Open where they had fans see what it was like to face Maria Sharapova. Brands also leveraged Google Cardboard giving consumers their own personal virtual reality device. Visa and Bank of America teamed up to distribute special edition Google Cardboard to 10,000 fans at a New England Patriots game and released a video of a Patriots practice that was shot using VR technology. In 2016 the challenge will be to bring the VR experience to a wider audicence as so far VR has been used by early adopters or people attending on-site activations.
Demonstrating City Pride
This year it became increasingly popular for brand endorsers to demonstrate their pride in their home city. In a trend that may have been started by Toronto’s very own Drake, we saw an increase of brand endorsers being proud of their city. At the end of last season former Raptor point guard Greivis Vasquez and Under Armour (MKTG Client) released a Vasquez signature shoe called “The North Six” playing off Toronto’s frequent nickname “The Six”. Powerade and Beats by Dre also released marketing campaigns that had endorsers demonstrate their hometown pride. Powerade did this with their #JustAKid campaign which profiled different athletes like Derrick Rose and how their home city had an impact on them. Headphone company Beats by Dre created a Straight Outta Somewhere generator in anticipation of the Straight Outta Compton movie. The generator allowed users to create their own images using their hometowns, playing off the famous album cover of Straight Outta Compton. Beats leveraged their athlete endorsers like LeBron James, Serena Williams, Yasiel Puig, and Richard Sherman to create their own images promoting their hometowns. When an endorser embraces their city, a deeper connection with the fans can be created. This also allows for brands to demonstrate their investment in a local community through an endorser. Previously, the most the most effective way to demonstrate local investment would have been through a team.
The Shift from “Model” to “Designer”
In 2015 brands enlisted athletes as more than a spokesperson but also had them influence and consult on the company’s product. The shift from endorser to designer creates a true partnership and lends authenticity to the sponsorship as they now have a say in the final product. Russell Westbrook has partnered with Barneys to release the “Westbrook XO Barneys New York” Line. The fashion line showcases his personal choices of clothing allowing fans to know that Westbrook handpicked each article of clothing. British fashion brand Kent & Curwen has recruited former soccer star David Beckham as an endorser and announced that Beckham will be personally involved in several aspects of the company including product development, store design, and marketing. Due to increased access fans have with athletes off the field of play from platforms like social media, athletes have the opportunity to demonstrate their interests in projects away from the field of play. These types of agreements extend beyond just fashion, as NBA player Carmelo Anthony has partnered with Nickelodeon and will be releasing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle line of merchandise inspired by Anthony called Turtles by Melo. These newly positioned sponsorship agreements can also benefit the endorser as they can position themselves as a creative business leader and diversify their brand away from strictly sports.
Sponsors Create Real Time Offers Based on Location
Proximity based marketing involves the wireless distribution of marketing materials through the use of technologies like beacons, to consumers in a particular region. This allows brands to market to a more targeted audience and create tailored messaging. In 2015 there was a number of sponsors that capitalized off of proximity based marketing. For example, this year the Nashville Predators introduced beacon technology in their arena allowing sponsors to distribute offers to fans attending the game. One such offer provided fans eating at the in-arena restaurant the possibility to receive an offer on their phone from Tavern 96’, a local bar in Nashville, to cover their tab. This new way to reach consumers allowed brands to be present when fans were attending a sporting event and in a highly emotional state. Brands were able to demonstrate to fans that they were with them in the moment. Brands also used proximity based marketing in much larger areas than an arena. This year when dating app Tinder signed a sponsorship with Tough Mudder, users in the New York area were offered $15 off registration to the New York edition of the Tough Mudder race. Many brands use social media as a way to insert themselves into timely conversations. Proximity based marketing offer the real time nature of social media and at the same time drive sales by offering consumers timely offers.
Everybody is a Media Company
This year saw an introduction of two major live streaming apps that battled for market share when Periscope and Meerkat were brought into the mainstream. Both apps allowed users to live stream directly from their phones to anyone who was interested in watching their stream. Brands quickly leveraged this technology as new ways to activate sponsorships. Under Armour (MKTG Client) used Periscope to live stream their MVP party for Stephen Curry. In addition, Red Bull live streamed their Red Bull Guest House at Miami Music Week Red Bull offering viewers exclusive interviews with musicians. Live streaming allowed brands to offer unique viewing opportunities for fans unable to attend live events, allowing sponsors to satisfy the demand for first-person content. It also gives sponsors the opportunity to share live footage of an event instead of uploading the footage at a later date online when it may no longer be relevant.