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5 examples of sports content marketing

5 examples of sports content marketing

When you think of sports marketing, famous campaign sponsorships likely spring to mind: Michael Phelps and Under Armour, Tag Heuer and Cristiano Ronaldo, Nike and well, everyone.

Big names and big money go hand-in-hand in the world of sports, but that doesn’t mean your business can’t get in on the action too. Major sporting events have a huge public appeal – appeal that can be leveraged to promote your brand.

Don’t think this fits into your line of work? You might be surprised. Let’s take a look at 5 winning examples of sports content marketing.

1. Starbucks and the Seattle Seahawks

Let’s start with a trip across the pond where football means something very different.

Three years ago, the Seattle Seahawks faced the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX. To show support for their local team, Starbucks – also native to Seattle – decided to support them with branded cup sleeves designed to look like Seahawks jerseys.

The sleeves weren’t just cute either. They featured the Seahawks’ snapcode, which allowed fans to access exclusive content on Snapchat. In a world where everyone walks around with a coffee in one hand and a smartphone in the other, the campaign performed brilliantly and undoubtedly helped Starbucks rack up some great user-generated content (UGC).

Takeaway tip – Offer something exclusive. While you may not be able to score a sponsorship with a big league team, you can use your social accounts to go behind the scenes. This can be as simple as live streaming your staff viewing party or sharing photos of everyone in matching rugby jerseys.

2. The North Face Never Stop Exploring Blog

Written for ‘those who never stop,’ the North Face Never Stop Exploring blog is a prime example of sports-related marketing done right.

While other athletic brands might run fancy ads of athletes in their garb, North Face puts their global team of athletes to work – tasking them with writing their blog content and recording videos. By telling their brand story through influencers, the North Face is able to get serious eyes on their site and their gear.

Takeaway tip – Don’t ignore editorial content. While videos and graphics may get the most eyes, it’s important to pump up your blog during major sporting events as well, especially if editorial content is your primary focus. For help, get influencers involved.

3. New York Times, the World’s Ball

During the last World Cup, the New York Times wowed us with this impressive piece of content.

The World’s Ball recounts the history of the soccer ball and tells the story of how the 2014 World Cup ball, the Brazuca, came into fruition.  If the facts described in the World’s Ball don’t blow your mind, the graphics will. This piece is packed with useful, informative content, complimented by interactive graphics and a slew of cool historic images from World Cups past.

Takeaway tip – Tell the untold story. The New York Times does a number of things right with the World’s Ball and one was choosing a niche topic. When it comes to sports marketing, leave the mainstream stuff to the big corporations. As a small business, it’s up to you to deliver the unique news – such as the history of piece of equipment. This will get more eyes on your content and help you stand out from the crowd.

worlds ball

4. Orlando City SC’s scavenger hunt

Here’s another example of football in America – the right kind this time.

When Orlando City joined major league soccer they needed to find supporters because well, there were very few around. To do so, they organised a social media scavenger hunt – posting clues on Twitter, Instagram and Periscope about where to find hidden tickets around Orlando.

The campaign was incredibly effective in building a social media following for this emerging brand. Plus, it got some people in the stands and cost the organisation very little.

Takeaway tip – Get your followers involved. Social media engagement is often the primary goal of sports content marketing campaigns. That said, comments and likes aren’t enough. To really stand out, encourage your followers to engage on a much deeper level. Take a leaf from Orlando City’s book and start your own social media competition or trending hashtag. Trust us, you’ll see the benefits long after the sporting event is over.

5. Nike’s #DareToZlatan

Another winner from this time four years ago was Nike’s promotion of their new clothing line with then Paris St-Germain star, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Everything about the Dare to Zlatan campaign played on the footballer’s massive ego – we mean, ‘daring attitude’ – from videos of the athlete training inside a volcano to the famous Twitter takeover.

Nike’s team took control of Ibrahim’s Twitter account and asked fans to reach out using the hashtag #DaretoZlatan. What followed was a slew of very funny tweets – both prepared and improvised.

Takeaway tip – Be humorous.  Sports marketing is a break from your usual social media strategy so take some risks and even poke fun. This is your brand’s opportunity to adopt a slightly different tone and style and cover novel topics – embrace it.

In Conclusion

Five great examples and five tips for your own sports related content campaigns:

  1. Offer something exclusive.
  2. Don’t ignore editorial content.
  3. Tell the untold story.
  4. Get your followers involved.
  5. Be humorous.

Any brand can – and should – ride the hype of major sporting events, whether it’s a big match in your local city or a global occasion like the World Cup or Olympics.  Follow these events to identify opportunities for your organisation’s voice to be heard. With the right content, you’ll increase your brand’s reach and make some friends among your target audience – that is, if they support the same team.


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Natalie Fortier About the author