Summary: In this article, we study brands that create unique sponsorship experiences, their strategies, and best practices for engaging consumers through sponsorship in our own brands.
Leading By Example
It’s no secret that sponsorships play a large, essential and increasingly complex role in sports events. The number of different avenues to reach and engage with sports audiences is increasing year over year. Digital campaigns, social media promotions, and unique on-site activations are just a sample of the new sponsorship opportunities available. In fact, 83% of fans are checking social media while watching sports on TV and 63% of fans are using social media while at the stadium.
As a result, smart brands are learning how to engage people in new and creative ways. Brands that execute sponsorship well are those that engage their audiences in their story both in person AND digitally. The following brands are sponsorship experts. They are at the forefront of creating meaningful sponsorships that have an impact on consumers. Ultimately, these brands accomplish several goals through their sponsorships – they not only increase brand recognition and loyalty as a result of their strategy, but also revenue, competitive advantage, and market share.
From their first jersey sponsorship of an Austrian football team in 1989 to the dominating sponsorship force that they have become now — Red Bull has owned the sponsorship space in a way that is both unique and irreplaceable. The company utilizes its adventurous spirit to gain a competitive advantage. As a result, Red Bull has tapped into extreme sports with sponsorships that defy expectations…and gravity. With events like the 128 Kilometer Skydive by Felix Baumgartner that garnished over 8 million live views on YouTube, to the Notting Hill Carnival in which Red Bull hosted musicians, dancers and festivities for the 2 million people who attend the carnival; Red Bull continues to illustrate the brand’s tie to extreme sports enthusiasts. The brand is skilled in reaching consumers on unique platforms such as YouTube Live and Instagram Stories. With an artistic expression that is viable and strong, the sky’s the limit for these infamous wings.
American Express (Amex) caters to its wealthier demographic by making them feel exclusive, high-end, and valuable. How does the company accomplish this? By committing to an unwavering brand focus on aspiration, customer retention and brand loyalty. Amex sponsors events like the U.S. Open and engages fans via activation throughout the tournament. For example, the company built the ultimate U.S Open American Express Fan Experience, which included a hologram of American professional Sloane Stephens and professional swing analysis with RFID tags that allowed users to share immediately on social media.
Additionally, Amex is the Founding Partner of New York Fashion Week’s MADE show and has created unique elements including exclusive premium seating and cardmember only showcases for VIP members. By creating access to experiences that can be shared digitally, American Express continues to navigate and excel in the ever complex sponsorship arena.
Dr. Pepper Snapple Group Inc.
Dr. Pepper has created a unique brand sponsorship position by connecting with its consumers in the place in which they are most passionate — college football. Dr. Pepper is no stranger to sponsorship, as the company first sponsored the Cotton Bowl in 1930. However, the company has expanded its reach in the last 5-7 years. Besides a large sponsorship with the Chicago Bears, Dr. Pepper has invested its sponsorship dollars on the Dr. Pepper Tuition Giveaway, a program in which students submit their plan to change the world for a chance to win up to $100,000. To date, there has been thousands of submissions and the company has donated over $10,000,000 to its engaged following.
Dr. Pepper recognizes that its consumers create the best content. To allow consumers to show their team pride, the brand encouraged people to take pictures and share to social media with the College Football Playoff National Championship trophy in 2015. By engaging passionate fans emotionally with events and opportunities on and off the field, Dr. Pepper has built a unique and tangible sponsorship experience and has become a leader in the sports sponsorship industry.
Sponsorship Best Practices
Red Bull, American Express and Dr. Pepper represent three brands that have experienced success on the sponsorship playing field. These brands show the power of valuable storytelling, and succeed in engaging consumers physically and digitally. They interact with customers via their highest passion points, and delight them with powerful experiences. When creating your brand’s marketing strategy, utilize the following three ideas for engaging sponsorships:
- Meet your consumers where they’re most excited
- Direct your efforts to reflect your consumers wants, needs and dreams
- Interact with fans physically and digitally
By following these strategies we have learned from top sponsorship brands in the country, we can better equip our brands to become sponsorship leaders.
Interested in building your brand’s sponsorship strategy?