Experiential Marketing: “Go Big or Go Home”

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New York Advertising Week kicked off on Monday October 1st (runs through Thursday 10.4) at the AMC Loews Lincoln Square. Russell Silvers (COO, AEG Global Partnerships) and Joao Chueiri (VP Consumer Connections, Anheuser Busch) were featured on a panel (hosted by JohnWallStreet) entitled “Go Big or Go Home” that explored experiential marketing trends within the world of sports sponsorships. Below is a transcription of a few of the highlights. Make sure to check out Friday’s newsletter for Joao’s insight on successful Anheuser Busch’s Dilly-Dilly and Cleveland Browns refrigerator campaigns.

JWS: Can you share you share your “high level” philosophy on sports sponsorships?

Joao: I think 5, 10, 15 years from now, we’re going to remember the experiences that we’ve lived, more than the advertising that we’ve viewed. We live in an experience economy, brands are being built by experiences. When we talk about sponsorships, events and activating the assets that we have, I believe experiential marketing is the most profound way to establish a meaningful connection with the consumer.

JWS: Why is a successful experiential marketing campaign more effective than a traditional sports sponsorship?

Russell: The fan ultimately become an ambassador for the brand and it occurs in such an organic way because the fan isn’t doing anything other than lending himself/herself to have an experience like no other. Then the fan shares their experience through social and becomes that brand ambassador when talking with their peers; a lot of people base their decisions off their friends’ opinions.

JWS: How does data help Anheuser Busch ensure fans have a positive experience while enjoying their products at a sporting event?

Joao: We’ve partnered with AEG on multiple technologies designed to enhance the consumer experience at sporting events because we’re trying to solve fan pain points when people are enjoying our product. We hear that concession lines are long, so we’ve done things like mobile ordering, in-seat delivery and have given fans the ability to preload a beer on their ticket before they got to the venue. We use consumer data to identify the things that we can create, innovation that we can pilot and then we work very closely with our partners to implement them. When we do that, we see great results not only in terms of the consumer experience but also in terms of sales for us.

JWS: If the product is the experience, do attendees expect that the activation will be a small taste of that experience? Should they always be planning on it?

Russell: I think they should now. No matter how big or small the event is, the experience must be either on par or greater than the actual event in and of itself; that’s kind of where we’re at now in the world of sports and entertainment. You’re going get some events like the Super Bowls that obviously supersedes all, but even with the Super Bowl going on the country could not help but think about the activation that Bud Light was doing (free beer for city). It’s cliché, but it’s go big or go home; that’s kind of where we’re at now.

Howie Long-Short: The World Advertising Research Center (WARC) has indicated that companies will spend $65.8 billion (+4.9% YoY, $24.2 billion spent in North America) on (mostly sports) sponsorship deals in ’18, but few are monitoring their efficacy. Research by MKTG revealed that just 19% of the 500 corporate sponsorship executives surveyed have a way to measure returns on their sponsorship investments. While surprising, 73% of those polled in MKTG’s survey said that “brand awareness”, not ROI, is the “main point of sponsorship.”

One company that is wisely measuring ROI is Anheuser Busch (BUD) and the increase in access to data has led to more efficient spending. In fact, BUD has begun using incentive-laden contracts (think: on-field performance, social media views on co-branded content, market share growth within city), as opposed to signing long-term pacts with fixed fees, for its pro sports partnerships. For the 73% of corporate execs content with brand awareness (from their sports sponsorships), I would say “those audiences can be found in less expensive ways, like through targeted digital media, which do not come with multimillion-dollar sponsorship fees”. 

Fan Marino: American Express had a memorable experiential campaign at this year’s U.S. Open, an interactive tennis gaming experience (entitled Super Rally) featuring Venus Williams. Using custom-designed 3D printed rackets, fans stood in front of life-sized transparent monitors returning virtual tennis balls in augmented reality against physical targets with the goal of collecting the most points. Here’s video of JohnWallStreet exhibiting some rare athleticism and working up a sweat playing the AR game.

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Author: John Wall Street

At the intersection of sports & finance.

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