With the Ministry of Sports Marketing (MSM) Awards 2017 not far away, B&T sat down with one of the winners from last year, Adrenalin director Bernie Johnson, to discuss what makes a great sports marketing campaign, and what Australia can be doing better in this sector.
What does it mean to be a MSM Award winner? How has it helped your career/organisation?
It was fantastic to be recognised alongside some of Australia’s biggest sporting brands – it was also great to see Supercars, which is such an iconic Australian sport, lead the way with innovation in digital.
We have gone on to be invited to speak at this year’s MSM conference.
What does the MSM Awards mean to the industry as a whole?
It’s important to have official recognition of the work being done and create healthy competition within the industry by putting a greater focus on success.
What makes a great sports marketing campaign?
Providing unprecedented levels of engagement for fans – campaigns that provide an experience where fans are immersed in the moment will achieve cut through; a deep understanding of the audience, their behaviour and what they want, and; a solid social strategy that empowers, excites and engages the already vocal social communities.
A recent example of a good sports marketing campaign from the UK is ‘This Girl Can’ by Sport England. The campaign is designed to engage with women and encourage them to participate in sport. The deep levels of research and tapping into the social behaviour of the target audience is what has made it so successful.
How do you rate the quality of sports marketing here in Australia compared to the US and Europe? What can we be doing better?
Over the past few years, the global sports marketing industry has been undergoing significant disruption as a result of the digital landscape shifting. Overall, it’s been a positive evolution, with fan engagement at unprecedented levels. We can now get access to rich content about our favourite team or player on an anytime, anywhere basis through a proliferation of devices and digital channels.
The big difference between Australia and the US/Europe is that the latter have been more willing to innovate and embrace new AR and VR technologies to deliver a more engaging experience for fans, especially those not physically at the ground. Examples include the NBA streaming live VR content on game day, Manchester United’s recent teaming up with Facebook’s AR developer platform, Camera Effects, or Adidas’ D Rose Jump Store.
Risk abounds in experimenting with new technologies, but Australian sports marketing needs to continue being brave and moving fast to keep up with the global players.
What’s the biggest challenge that the Aussie sports marketing industry faces going forward?
Sport is part of the Australian DNA – it’s a lifeblood for many Australians. With only 25 million people, we see ground attendances and per capita fan engagement at levels which rival the biggest comps in the US and Europe. We have an unsatiated appetite to consume more sport – not less – which we’ve seen with the colossal success of the Big Bash League. That being said, if Australian sports marketers sit on their hands and don’t look to provide more ways for fans to engage through new technologies, we’ll quickly start to see churn from domestic competitions to the International powerhouses who offer a much richer experience for fans.
What advice would you give to those marketers wanting to enter the sporting realm?
Immerse yourself in new trends and technologies which will define the future of sports marketing – multi-screen consumption, live streaming video, AR and VR. Learn to understand the data and analytics will be shaping the business side of the sports industry into the future. Finally, more so than any B2C or B2B marketing, sports marketing is increasingly pivoting around influencer marketing. Don’t underestimate the power and the loyalty of the fans and the lengths they will go to – leverage social communities and remember you have an army of brand advocates – so, treat them well and they will in turn look after you.