In Momentum Worldwide’s recently released We Know Sports Fans research, we found an intriguing opportunity. The research uncovered three key insights, which at the first read may seem contradictive: 83% of global sports fans think sponsors don’t consider the fans; 88% of the same fans surveyed believe that sponsors can create new opportunities for their favourite sport and team; and 86% would not object to seeing even more sponsorship in sport.
This means that, currently, fans don’t feel the love when it comes to brands being involved in their sport via sponsorship, but they understand that brands can enrich their experience, and overwhelmingly welcome brands that do so.
The point I am getting at here is that brands and sports teams/franchises should stop thinking about channels or placements, and start thinking about experiences – specifically, fan experiences.
The solution is pretty simple. Reverse the dynamic, make sponsorship platforms ‘fan first,’ rather than ‘brand-centric’.
For example, one of the greatest badges of being a true fan of any sport according to the We Know Sports Fans research is being in the know and having an opinion others can get behind. Modern fans can’t relate to those in charge of sport, such as pundits and commentators, so they look to each other for the recognition they crave. Fans join together, online and off, to show their support for the sport they love, to connect and create a powerful sense of belonging.
By providing fans with an idea-led action, behaviour or platform they can own, it becomes indispensable to their sporting experience in an authentic and contagious way; by spreading brand communication, sentiment or action, brands can play a valued and welcomed role in sports from the perspective of the fan.
This is how brands should be looking to connect with modern sports fans. By being the facilitator of an experience and enhancing it, rather than cheapening it with a brand-centric approach to sponsorship. By being 'fan first' and providing platforms fans feel like they can own, brands can align with the experience of being a fan – something that is so much more powerful than a traditional ‘let’s badge it’ approach.
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