“Dance like there’s nobody watching, Love like you’ll never be hurt, Sing like there’s nobody listening…” and Activate like no one is there…
The new year usually brings hope and optimism, which is needed now more than ever. 2020 is finally behind us. We all know how tough a year it was, but now it’s time to look ahead. Unfortunately, we are still not out of the woods yet as we continue to battle with the pandemic. We can’t simply just hit the reset button.
There is still so much uncertainty even with the NBA season underway and the NFL playoffs about to begin. We know there will be new NHL, NASCAR, PGA, MLB, and MLS seasons in 2021. We hope there will be fans in attendance at some point, but when and how many is still up in the air. The fan experience will be different, but we are not sure what it will look like. So how do we plan to activate sponsorships with so many unknowns?
Some properties are planning as if no attendees will be allowed in venue throughout the season whereas others are taking the opposite approach. For sponsors, it is best to hedge your bet and plan as if no fans will be there in person. Build activations so it works regardless of fans in venue. Include additional options or contingency plans, if fans are allowed back to serve more as an added bonus. If you can, backload activations for later in the year in Q3 or Q4.
We know TV visible signs and logo placement are impactful for brand awareness, recognition, etc. However, simply adding more signs isn’t the answer. It may be essential on the property side to generate revenue and fulfill make goods, but most sponsors are looking for ways to drive business and connect with fans. Continue to focus on digital and social. Tap into team databases. Look for ways to collaborate with team marketing departments to support their initiatives, which may be mutually beneficial.
The Lakers have millions of fans throughout the world, but under normal circumstances less than five percent will see them play in person at Staples Center during any given season. Many of whom are repeat season ticket holders so the number of unique attendees is even fewer. In 2021, we know attendance will be impacted so it is even more important to find ways to reach fans outside of the venues.
During the Lakers recent championship run in Orlando, Pepsi helped fans feel like part of the action and created memorable moments all over Los Angeles. Throughout the finals Pepsi ambassadors delivered Lakers themed gift packages to fans’ doorsteps including merchandise, decorations, and co-branded Lakers Pepsi product. Pepsi and the Lakers also set up a mobile drive by rally featuring music, decorations, Lakers Girls, merchandise and more Pepsi product for fans to enjoy. One lucky fan received a surprise back yard (physically distanced with masks) viewing party with Lakers legend Robert Horry. All of this helped create multiple touchpoints for Pepsi along with some great content.
There is a lot of learning from 2020. We have already gone through the drill of reallocating assets, determining makegoods and making the best out of a tough situation. This should provide an advantage for 2021. We know there will be more games, hopefully no big gaps in the schedule, and to expect the unexpected. Fans will come back with pent up demand, but it may be slow and we won’t truly get back to “normal” until 2022. If you can, be aggressive since it’s a buyer’s market and a good time to grab more market share. Try to have some fun since we all need it. Continue to find ways to bring value to fans and contextual relevance to your brand. Be creative and push the envelope. Dance like there’s nobody watching…(check out Alaska Airlines ‘Safety Dance’ campaign featuring employees).