Sports and brands don’t always mix well—think Lance Armstrong, Kobe Bryant, and Tiger Woods. When handled carelessly, you can end up with a highly combustible brand story on your hands. When combined thoughtfully and judiciously, however, sports marketing can generate remarkable results.
Regardless of which sports you actually follow, these four highly successful marketing campaigns have almost certainly caught your attention:
Red Bull Takes It to the Extreme
Energy drink makers Red Bull have gained a reputation as one of the most powerful and innovative marketing teams around. Part of this comes down to their use of extreme sports events to get the maximum amount of publicity for the brand. They don’t even need to market their drink directly, since the events get the name out there for them.
From cliff-diving to wakeboarding to space jumps and air races, there are many weird and wonderful events sponsored by Red Bull. This approach works, as it is now one of the world’s most valuable brands and sold 6.8 billion cans in 2018.
Their most famous stunt was when Felix Baumgartner jumped 39 km (24 miles) from space in the Red Bull Stratos challenge. This incredible feat filled newspapers and social media feeds for days, ensuring that Red Bull got maximum benefits from it.
The Super Bowl of Advertising
There’s a great debate to be had about which was the best Super Bowl ad of all time. Giant companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and Verizon make special ads to show to the millions of people who tune into this game every year. It’s a hugely expensive advertising slot, and this compels the biggest firms to put all they have into one 30-second spot.
Among the best-loved ads from over the years have been Cindy Crawford getting out of a car to drink Pepsi and the Budweiser singing frogs taking over our screens. Yet, perhaps the greatest moment of all was when Larry Bird and Michael Jordan had an insane showdown over a Big Mac in 1993.
This remains one of the most highly sought-after advertising slots of the year and something that the public looks forward to eagerly. No matter what teams are involved and what the future odds are for the NFL MVP of 2019, you can be sure that some of the world’s biggest companies will be working out how to get their name on everyone’s lips.
This Girl Can by Sport England
In the UK, this campaign proved to be a massive success. The overall idea was to address the fact that many more men than woman take part in sports.
They achieved this by engaging a wide range of users across channels. The social media analytics were incredible, with 2.8 million women saying that the campaign had caused them to take up sports or else to increase their levels of participation.
While this campaign wasn’t carried out on behalf of a particular company, it showed us that it’s possible to change people’s attitudes by giving them information and an incentive to make changes.
Back Yourself by Betfair
This simple but highly effective campaign by betting firm Betfair very cleverly got people to start betting. It allowed runners in the 2016 London Marathon to bet on themselves making their target time.
Winnings were given to charity, while stakes on losing bets were paid to Cancer Research UK. All of this meant fantastic publicity for Betfair and a lot of people who perhaps started betting for the first time.
Sports and branding may not always mix well, but transformative marketers see the potential impact for the brand and take the necessary steps to assure that the conditions for success remain in place.
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