Ice cream or soup…which is better? Tough question to answer.
Ice cream, on one hand, is great for hot days. It’s also sweet so it is meant for after a meal. You can eat it on a cold day in the winter…but man it is best in the summer.
Soup, on the other hand, is great for rainy days…and let’s talk about all the flavors. You can have tomato with
Each has its own value, benefits, and purpose. Each has a time when it is most optimal based on the environment around it.
The same goes for our assets in sponsorships.
Sometimes we clump our out-of-stadium assets with our in-stadium items expecting them to solve the same problems…well, they can’t.
Each has its own benefits and times when it should be used. Today I’m going to break down how I think about in-stadium vs out of stadium sponsorship assets when creating them.
First, you can’t have one or the other in today’s advertising age
Because of the smartphone sponsorship assets need to reach fans 24/7/365.
Why? Because the other advertising assets out there (social ads, search ads) are 24/7/365. We need to be able to reach our fans outside of the stadium in order to stay competitive with the brands we sell to.
On the flip side, you can’t only have out-of-stadium assets. If you did you would not have the competitive advantage of the ability to reach a hyper-focused, impassioned, and fanatical fan base in real life. The benefits of our games are they are an experience like no other.
You need about a 50/50 of both in your arsenal in order to be competitive. The problem is we are heavier on the in-stadium side…but we’ll get into that later.
In-stadium is all about 1:1 connection with a human and the experience
I can remember my first Warriors game like it was yesterday. I was seven and they were playing the Bulls. Scottie Pippen scorched the Chris Mullen and Latrell Sprewell led Warriors.
I can remember the first time I walked into Oracle (The Arena in Oakland it was called then). The smell, the food, the excitement in the arena. The memory of Scottie dropping at least 40 points and Mullen nearing the end of his career.
The experience is why I came back. This experience is why I fell in love. That experience is why I am a Warriors fan.
Our goal with the in-arena assets should be to engrain our sponsors authentically into that experience.
The value of in-arena sponsorship assets should do everything we can to harness that emotion and link a brand with it authentically.
In-stadium assets don’t have the scale (only about 838,000 for the best NBA teams in attendance) but what we do have is the emotional, in-person side of the equation.
It is like seeing the Eifel Tower in movies and in pictures…and physically standing underneath the structure, smelling the grass from the park in front of it, and feeling the humid summer Parisian air.
An example, linking a restaurant giveaway with a game-winning shot. The excitement of the win is now synced naturally with a free burger for the entire week. The experience is now synced authentically into brand promotion.
Or the Coca-cola slide at the San Francisco Giants ballpark. That is signage that brings up big emotions for me as my best friend was a Giants fan and took me to games where I would slide down it all the time. If you ask me to name SF Giants sponsors, Coca-Cola will always be one I remember because of the connection it brings to the game experience.
One of the most powerful ones for teams and brands comes with creating 1:1 connections with fans in the stadium.
I’ve talked about how we’ve used our activations at SQWAD to help Toyota do this with our Trivia to get their salespeople 1:1 with fans right on the glass.
Is this scalable? No. You aren’t going to reach all 800,000 fans that come into the stadium with this. But the impact you can make with 20 fans is more powerful than anything you can do in out-of-stadium advertising.
When we think about the absolute value of in-stadium assets…1:1 connection and syncing in with the passionate experience of the game is the key. Your assets should be funneling fans to 1:1 connections at all times. This is the true value of your in-stadium items.
If you have in-stadium assets that aren’t fueling 1:1 connection and syncing with the experience…you shouldn’t expect a high price for them.
Out of stadium assets are all about scale…but the secret sauce is personalization at scale
One problem I have with the out-of-stadium assets in sponsorship today is they have no personalization and are many times redundant.
Let me explain.
A common asset out of the stadium we sell is branding on score update images…
Let’s be honest, there is little connection a fan will have with a score update. Even more so, I don’t go to your Twitter to check scores…I will hit the team app or ESPN app.
Here’s how personalization at scale can work with our out-of-the-stadium assets with the score updates. Instead of having a simple score image, have a super fan or celebrity record a video of his take on the game at the end of each quarter.
You are getting a personalized take from a fan on how he/she is seeing the game and enjoying the experience. You can bring them into your world as a team.
Imagine getting Marshawn Lynch’s take each quarter on how Cal football is playing with the score to the right…then imagine how many retweets and comments that post will get.
Then imagine linking Skittles to that by having him eat Skittles while reporting.
You as a fan will remember that asset…and you can reach 1M people with that asset every game. Then, imagine if Marshawn thanked fans for tuning in and gave them a website where fans can win free Skittles…but they had to enter their email.
Take that email, re-target with co-branded Cal football & Skittles ads (My mind is going to Marshawn Ghost Riding the medical cart with Skittles pouring out at every tight turn) to buy the Marshawn branded Skittles or tickets to the next game.
Or even better Marshawn answers 20 fans with a recorded video thanking them for tuning in and offer to send them a month worth of Skittles.
Above is just one idea of how to get more personalized with your digital assets and still hit a large scale. Cool videos are of highlights are great…but we can do so much more to really stand out in the digital arena.
Out of the stadium, assets are best for brands looking for scale, but we should focus on how we can personalize them.
The fusion of the two in a package is when the magic happens
There is nothing more beautiful (for me at least) than a perfectly placed pass over a defender for a touchdown.
With this simple action, there are so many elements, some seen and some not, that play a role in this action.
The same goes for our sponsorship packages.
It takes a perfect blend of in-stadium & out-of-stadium assets to reach perfection in connecting our fans with sponsors.
This mix is one of personal touch & experiences (in-stadium) and constant touchpoints (out of the stadium) that help build a relationship. There should never be a package that you put out in front of a sponsor that doesn’t have a strong mixture of both.
Sponsorship people are mixologists with two base alcohols. Our job is to make the best drink that fits the tastes of both our sponsors and fans.
Make the perfect drink.