Though some of my opendorse colleagues have been able to attend the Intersport Brand Engagement Summit in the past, the 2016 event in Chicago was my first experience. And as I look back now a few days after its conclusion, I feel so fortunate to have rejoined the sports business industry.

The business of opendorse is at the crossroads of the stakeholder groups in attendance: properties, brands, and of course, their many wonderful agencies. There may not be a better gathering of the people making the decisions that ultimately impact the sporting world than the one that took place last week. And while I wrote down something smart that nearly each one of the speakers and panelists mentioned during their time on stage, and tweeted along with each day’s topics, I wanted to highlight the words of three that immediately had me ready to get back to Lincoln and share with my colleagues.



 

Matthew Kauffman

Head, Sports and Entertainment Partnerships | Intel Corp.


“People feel differently about the brand—they feel better about it—when we get involved with (sporting) events…When you apply the technology and transform their experiences, people think differently about the brand.”

People love sports. Groundbreaking statement, I know. But many of the most sophisticated marketers in the world are taking advantage of this affinity and are deepening their brand’s involvement with the games that we stay up late watching each night. A look at the roster of sponsors for each of the major sports (and a lot of the minor ones as well) is a who’s who list of the top brands year after year—Gatorade, Nike and Kellogg’s, to name just a sliver. But brands like Intel and Matthew’s team are going beyond simply advertising around these events, or splashing their logo on the broadcast—they are transforming the experience. Take the 360° replay system they brought to Super Bowl 50—“did he break the plain?”—this provided fans with access to an entirely new way to experience the game of football and the most crucial of moments within it. “Sponsorship is a dirty word in our office. Technology must be the hero of the experience,” he said. Keep it coming, Matthew.

Matthew Kauffman SBJ Intersport


Shannon Dan

Senior Vice President, Digital Strategy | Intersport


“What’s a good content strategy? You have to match content ideation with a promotional plan and distribution… We take a customized approach to every content strategy. Every piece of content has a different purpose. There’s no magic formula. Every brand needs a customized approach.”

It’s really no surprise that someone representing the title sponsor of the event would have something so bright (and simple) to offer up in conversation. But it’s often times that these simple insights are the ones that people forget at first. A lot of the brands we partner with want to know what content strategy has worked for other clients in the past, and we’re always ready to share case studies of the ones we’ve observed, but we also try to do a good job of reminding our partners that what worked over here to drive traffic or increase engagement might not be one-size-fits-all. At the same time, game recognize game and when something is great, it’s great. Our suggestion: take Shannon’s advice and customize the approach based on your goals.


Scott Warfield

Managing Director, Social Media | NASCAR


“Social media gives an opportunity to take the sport to more places than the track. Partner social media engagement activation is expected by sponsors now when partnering with leagues. And sponsors get immense value from their involvement. Brand partners are part of the action. It’s not just the #48 car; it’s the Lowes #48 car.”

Before reading further, you have to see the Hashtag 500 campaign that Scott and his team put together. I thought it was brilliant.

Ok, you’re back. Now social media—a place quite close to the hearts of opendorseans (we’re going with it). #smsports is the space we deal in every day. Scott cites just one way that properties are weaving their sponsor brands into social media, but the best marketers are constantly working to increase the return on their sponsorship investment. And many brands are amplifying their sponsorships by utilizing the influence of athletes on social—the genesis of opendorse. Courtyard Marriot did just that leading up to Super Bowl 50 as NFL stars promoted the Suite Stadium Contest. Athletes like Conor McGregor have tremendous influence in social, and brands are taking advantage. And properties like NASCAR, led by Scott and his team, are increasingly serving up more and more social opportunities for brands to put themselves in their absolute best light.

 

Sports Business Journal Engage Conference


And one last affirmation from AT&T Vice President, Media and Sponsorships, Mark Wright: “the power of sports and live action has never been stronger.” I love sports. And so do my colleagues here at opendorse. We don’t take lightly that we’re waking up and going to work in such an impactful industry every day, getting to work alongside the Scotts, Shannons and Matthews of the world. That’s why it will be special to head back to the Summit next year, and take the advice of our industry’s best and brightest again.