2013 Primetime Sports Management Conference Recap
We were proud to be in attendance at the 2013 Prime Time Sports & Entertainment Sport Management conference this week. The conference brought together innovators and influencers - both present and future - to discuss core issues in the world of sports business. We were an active participant - Brian provided insight as a panelist and many of our team members were active delegates. Conferences like PTSE are one example of our agency’s commitment to continuous learning.
Below, we share some of our favorite insights from #PTSE2013, along with some of the conference's most impactful moments.
1. Activating through social media: "The Importance of Developing Strong Corporate Partnerships in Sports" Panel: MKTG President & CEO Brian Cooper was on an expert panel discussing the state of sports sponsorship that also included client Jacqueline Ryan (Vice President of Sponsorships & Partnership Programs, Scotiabank). The panel spent significant time on the role of social media as a sponsorship activation tactic. Social is becoming an increasingly important part of the mix. For brands, it gets you in front of consumers to engage in two-way dialogue. Most importantly, it allows you the chance to listen to what your target is interested in. Tools like Twitter as an amplifier to the traditional TV viewing experience have transformed the fan experience; brands and properties must adapt. Some interesting insights from Jacqueline Ryan on the inextricable link between social and sponsorships for one of Canada's most active sponsors:
Insight: In 2012, more activation dollars were spent on social media than any other sponsorship tactic. Also, social media, is the fastest growing activation tactic in Canadian sponsorship (6% growth rate)*. Brands and properties must focus on how social media can be integrated into a winning partnership. However, in order to succeed in this space, brands must be proactive not reactive. Well in advance of the event/activation, the planning takes place to ensure that brands can be out of the gate quickly ie: Oreo's twitter activity during the Super Bowl power outage (below). This requires alignment from all stakeholders (agencies, properties, and brands.) and forward thinking on approval processes.
2. Tech sponsors are changing the fan experience: Some good discussion from Day 2 of PTSE regarding ticketing, new media, and the fan experience on the panel "That’s The Ticket: Building Your Brand and Selling Out Your Events". The panel discussed the lack of Wi-Fi available in the modern sports stadium and the impact it is having on younger fans. While technology upgrades remain a massive investment for venues and teams, specifically the ones playing in relic buildings, the consensus on the panel was that, at the bare minimum, Wi-Fi in stadiums is quickly approaching the "tablestakes" category. As Brian Burke simply put: "Wifi in stadiums will be automatic, real soon in every building"
Insight: Sports properties have been challenged in recent years by the fact that the at-home fan experience has improved dramatically. When watching games at home, fans have the opportunity to watch channels like NFL Redzone, to monitor their fantasy rosters and betting activity, and to share their experiences across a limitless variety of digital platforms. 98% of North American pro-sports venues lack Wi-Fi, leaving fans in the dark when they come to the stadium. While this creates a challenge for properties, it has also carved out a unique opportunity in the crowded sponsorship marketplace for tech sponsors to offer a solution. Tech brands like AT&T, through naming rights deals with major franchises like the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco Giants, have integrated business into their deals, turning stadiums into showcases for their technology, while solving an important need for fans. General Electric has taken a similar approach in their Olympic sponsorship, providing technology and infrastructure for the construction of world-class Olympic venues. These deals allow brands to offset some of their sponsorship investment through business integration, while enhancing their brand in the process.
3. The role of the leagues and teams in marketing stars: On the "brand-building" panel, it was a Brian Burke quote on the role of leagues versus the role of teams in their approach to marketing the game that got strong reaction throughout the Twitterverse.
Insights: While we understands the merits of Burke's stance, we believe that the ultimate goal should go a step further: leagues should make stars, not market them. For example, the NFL (the gold standard for pro sports brands in North America) has reached a point where it is not reliant on the star power of individual athletes in its communication strategy. The NFL primarily speaks to the brand of the league and its community of fans. Simply by being a quarterback in the NFL, you instantly become a household name. Conversely, a brand like the NHL or NBA, leans more on its stars - Sidney Crosby or Lebron James in the spotlight, with the league brand in the peripheral. This approach can work for leagues, however, when you rely on an individual athlete, you expose yourself to risk should that athlete experience a personal transgression (ie. Tiger Woods and the PGA Tour) or suffer a career-ending injury. The NFL's brand transcends any individual athlete by focusing on the brand of the league. The NHL, for example, has made strides in this area with an emphasis on brand-building activities like the Winter Classic and HBO's 24/7.