What Is A Sponsorship Activation?

what is a sponsorship activation

Sponsoring an event or organization can be a great way for brands of bringing awareness, brand affiliation, and generate revenue-driving leads. Sponsorships can often foster brand loyalty more subtly and effectively than other marketing tactics. However, in today’s advertising noise, simply slapping a logo on a screen or a booth at an event doesn’t quite cut it.

Brands now have to tack on additional marketing touch points when they become a sponsor to actually connect with audiences. This is sponsorship activation — taking a sponsorship and “activating” it by making the most of it through the right kinds of corresponding marketing activities to truly connect with your desired audience. Sponsorship activation is successful when a brand finds mutual value for the audience, the organization seeking sponsorships and the sponsors themselves.

Sports sponsorship activations: What’s in it for you?

Sports sponsorships are a common way that brands connect with an audience, with the global sports sponsorship spend predicted to total $48.4 billion in 2020, up 5% from last year. Coca-Cola and P&G are spending $1.95 billion alone as sponsors of the now-delayed 2020 Summer Olympics.

The investment makes sense – millions and millions of people walk through the doors of their favorite teams’ arenas and tune-in to broadcasts every year. In the 2019 regular season, 16.67 million fans attended NFL games in the U.S., with each team welcoming an average total of more than 521,000 spectators to their home games. That is a lot of eyes on your logo if you’re one of the companies who has invested as a major sponsor of that team or stadium.

Why not just leave the sponsorship as a simple logo on a screen, since millions of fans will see that throughout the season? Because, it’s likely not maximizing what benefits you could get from being a sponsor, and there’s a chance it’s not truly connecting with your desired audience, either.

When you make a sponsorship investment, you want to make it worth it. So, where do you begin?

Breaking down sponsorship activation

1. Define your objectives

First, you want to set the initial goal of your overall sponsorship – what are you trying to accomplish? Who are you trying to reach? This will help (a) ensure your sponsorship activities are reaching the audience you want to reach and (b) define the kinds of sponsorship activation you should consider for that setting and audience. Consider the goal you’re starting with, for example, brand awareness, direct sales, more clicks, etc.

2. Determine how you’re activating

First, you want to set the initial goal of your overall sponsorship – what are you trying to accomplish? Who are you trying to reach? This will help (a) ensure your sponsorship activities are reaching the audience you want to reach and (b) define the kinds of sponsorship activation you should consider for that setting and audience. Consider the goal you’re starting with, for example, brand awareness, direct sales, more clicks, etc.

Consider the basic parts of your average sports sponsorship; for example, the placement of a logo on the big screen at a game. To take this kind of sponsorship to the next level, you could activate it in a variety of physical or digital ways to further drive home your message. Maybe you also give out apparel during the game (a physical activation) or run sponsored posts on social media that coincide with it (a digital activation).

3. Plan the activation

Make sure you’re taking full advantage of everything you bought into when you signed on for your sponsorship. Carefully coordinate all the promotions, special events, social media and more to ensure the maximum impact on your audience. What platforms and tools will you use and when?

4. Define measurements

Successful sponsorship activation gives a brand a way to more solidly measure ROI and value gained from a sponsorship. If you can track the right KPIs when it comes to sponsorships, you can make sure the activations you’ve planned align with goals — and you’re more likely to be able to show the value that sponsorship ultimately provided for your brand.

5. Get rights and permissions

It’s important to make sure that you have all the rights and permissions from the party you’re investing in before you begin any campaign or promotional activities to avoid anything that might lead to breaching your contract. For example, what athletes are you allowed to use for promotional activities? Are you able to have reps at a game who pass out merchandise?

6. Execute

Overall, to execute an activation successfully you want to make sure your target audience’s goals and sponsor goals come together! Give your audience something they want, finding a mutual benefit and value for all the parties involved.

Examples of great sports sponsorship activations

Sleep number gives away beds to NFL players

When mattress brand Sleep Number announced a deal with the NFL in 2018, they also announced that they would give every single active NFL player a Sleep Number bed. In coordination with this, during the 2019 Super Bowl, fans had the opportunity to create their ultimate fan bedroom via a digital backdrop inside the NFL Experience, the interactive theme park reserved for official sponsors at the Georgia World Congress Center. After picking their team’s logo and putting their name on a jersey, they shared photos of their ultimate fan bedroom on social media.

UFC’s Las Vegas Wired City App

During International Fight Week in 2016, the UFC “Access Pass” served as a digital key to Las Vegas and International Fight Week for attendees who signed up via Facebook, Twitter or email, giving them access to pool parties, meet-and-greets, free drinks, VIP access to various venues and more. Fans simply tapped their credentials using RFID-enabled badges and wristbands to participate in activations, earn UFC Rewards points and share their experiences on social media.

Bud Light’s Social Media Lounge

At the Washington Redskins’ FedEx Field, a high-definition multi-screen touch display gaming wall, two interactive “morphing” stations and five tablets work together with Microsoft Kinect gesture technology allowing fans to virtually try kicking field goals. Not only are tweets using hashtags like #Redskins, #BudLight and #upforwhatever posted in real-time on the gaming wall; but fans also get to choose virtual eye black and helmets in Redskins colors, then post their image to social media.

Planning a successful activation

As you can see, social media is a successful component of all of these examples – and it happens to be the most-used channel to activate sponsorships. A relatively low cost and high engagement rates make social media an easy activation point for sponsorships. The targeting capabilities available on social platforms also ensure you’re reaching the right audience, at the right place, at the right time.

When it comes to sports activations specifically, social media is a critical touchpoint for the large portion of your audience that isn’t stepping foot in a stadium. Since each platform that streams sports handles commercials differently, social media is a great activation that will reach fans no matter how they’re watching.

Make sure the platforms you choose are where your audience is most active, and split budgets among those platforms in order to connect with users in various situations. Finally, be sure to tell a consistent brand story across those platforms.

Opendorse is here to help

Sponsorship activation is important in the sports marketing and advertising world, but don’t let it overwhelm you. By identifying your objectives; researching where your target audience is spending the most time and what they want from their favorite brands; and pulling it all together with the right activations, you can make the most of your sponsorship dollars and reach your audience in the most effective way possible.

Learn how Opendorse can accelerate your next sponsorship activation on social

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