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MKTG's Favourite Things: Five Emerging Property Types from 2015

MKTG's Favourite Things: Five Emerging Property Types from 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, tweet us @sesponsorship, or email us at insights@mktg.com. MKTG would like to thank your readership and we look forward to providing you with more insights in 2016.

As traditional properties like the big four sports leagues (NFL, NHL, MLB, and NBA) continue to see an increase in sponsorship spending, marketers begin to look for alternatives to these “traditional” properties. Looking to non-traditional properties can be an effective way for brands to find the next big property and have a first mover advantage in a new space. In 2015 we saw brands explore a number of new properties as MKTG looks back at the top five emerging properties types of 2015. 

eSport Competitions

eSport is the competition of organized online video games with competitions attracting thousands of spectators both in person and through internet broadcasts. In 2014, eSports’ worldwide fanbase was reported to be 89 million people and was predicted to increase to 145 million by 2017. It is also a very appealing property to a younger demographic as 75% of the audience falls in the 18-34 market. eSport events have already achieved success as a property in Asian countries like South Korea and China, but in 2015 eSport has gained significant popularity in North American markets. This past summer, Seattle hosted The International 2015 tournament at a sold out Key Arena. Later in the summer, New York hosted the League of Legends Championship series at a sold out Madison Square Garden. These marquee events demonstrate that there is a market for eSport in North America. However, there has yet to be a major event hosted in Canada, as the market for eSport is still emerging. Brands who sponsor the first major events in Canada will have the opportunity to gain a first mover advantage and be seen as a driver of eSport. Given eSports’ mass appeal in some of the regions that are Canada’s greatest sources of the new immigrants (China, South Korea, etc.) the market for gaming competitions is likely to increase as Canada becomes more diverse. Major brands are already heavily invested in eSport as Coca-Cola has created their own minor league circuit and Red Bull has created their own high tech training lab for up and coming gamers. 

Anti-Bullying Campaigns


This year it was common to find brands lend their support to the anti-bullying movement. In what used to be a taboo issue, a number of brands were seen taking a stand to help raise awareness on the issue. Coca-Cola achieved this with their #MakeItHappy campaign using athlete endorsers like Danica Patrick and Michael Sam to discuss their experiences with negative online comments. In October a new anti-bullying initiative was launched called I AM A WITNESS with the support of many major brands like Apple, Google, and Facebook. Brands that tackle this difficult issue demonstrate bravery by being some of the first movers in the area. This bravery can resonate with a large audience as bullying is a multi-generational issue affecting both children and parents. By brands attaching themselves to anti-bullying properties, they can position themselves as solutions providers. 

Concert Tours

As physical music sales continue to decline artists need to focus their attention on other revenue streams. Live music is still a popular event and this year a number of big name brands sponsored the tours of music’s biggest acts. Not only can brands secure prominent branding during shows or in promotional materials, but they also can secure access to valuable content. Taylor Swift’s recent world tour in support of her album 1989 was named as the highest grossing tour of the year. Comcast's Xfintiy brand secured a major sponsorship of the tour and offered subscribers exclusive behind the scenes content, ticket giveaways, and meet-and-greet opportunities. Citi Bank has also sponsored major 2015 tours including The Who and the Foo Fighters. It was also recently announced that Rihanna’s upcoming world tour has secured a reported $25 million dollar sponsorship deal from Samsung and the brand has begun activating by releasing clues on social media to when the album will be released. Multi-city tours offer brands an opportunity to appear in multiple markets and attach themselves to highly influential artists that attract a large audience. 

Peer-to-Peer Apps

The sharing economy has given birth to multiple lucrative tech businesses. Companies like Uber and Airbnb have demonstrated that people are interested in sharing resources, providing an alternative to standard services. These peer-to-peer services have a network of millions of loyal users, Uber currently has 8 million active users. With their large user base, peer-to-peer services have a way to further monetize their app by offering brands a new platform to reach consumers. It also give brands an opportunity to work in a white space where there are currently limited brand partners. Peer-to-peer apps also have a reputation of having tech-savvy, younger users which make them attractive for brands to associate with. This year Uber teamed up with Intact Insurance (MKTG Client) who created products catered for Uber. Intact worked to ensure that in the provinces where Uber operated, insurance policies were in line with regulatory requirements. RBC has partnered with lodging service Airbnb and allowed RBC customers to earn double reward points when they book with Airbnb. Through partnering with peer-to-peer services major brands are able to tap into their large user base and possibly reach a new segment of consumers. 

Canadian High School Sports

Due to their mass appeal, the competition to secure sponsorship in pro and college sports is fierce. Top tier leagues like the NFL have over 30 sponsors and for brands this means it can make it difficult to stand out from the clutter. In the United States, brands have turned to High School sports as a property to leverage. This has occurred for many years now in the United States as events like the McDonalds High School All-American Game have become a staple event since 1977. However, high school sports have remained largely untapped in Canada until this year. In April, the first All-Star game for Canadian High School basketball players was held in Toronto called the Biosteel All Canadian Basketball Game. The event attracted major sponsors like Sportchek, Nike, and BMO. With the success of the event and the growth of basketball in this country expect the event to only get bigger in the years to come. This also opens up the possibility for more prominent High School sports sponsorship. Provincial athletic associations like the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) maintain a roster of sponsors and allow brands to reach a wide audience of high school students. Brands looking to enter into new territory in Canada have the opportunity to look to the high school ranks as a new emerging property.

MKTG's Most Read of 2015

MKTG's Most Read of 2015

MKTG's Favourite Things: Five Activation Trends of 2015

MKTG's Favourite Things: Five Activation Trends of 2015