With 2020 having arrived, you’re probably already started or are preparing your campaigns for the coming year. You might be looking for new ideas or want to level up your game. But where do you go for inspiration?
The best sports marketing campaigns are always the ones that touch you, go straight to your heart and give you the feeling that they understand your mind or the mind of the target audience.
Nikes ‘Greatness’-campaign from several years ago is probably still stuck in your head. And Red Bull Stratos will always remain a legendary campaign. Also in 2019 there were quite some successful campaigns which undoubtedly generated a great ROI, brought in new customers and expanded brand awareness for their creators.
The fast and unstoppable changes in digital marketing offer a lot of opportunities to innovate your sports marketing campaigns. New technologies such as AR, VR, interactive banners and personalisation offer many opportunities to connect on a deeper and more valuable level with your consumers, and are a great outlet for your most creative sports marketing ideas. So we’ll likely see even more fascinating creative campaigns in 2020.
These innovative sports marketing examples are a great inspiration for any (digital) sports marketeer. I personally try to keep an eye on international campaigns, but also campaigns of other sectors to identify best practices and I search learnings which can be used for my customers’ projects.
To help inspire new ideas and jump start your creativity for 2020, asked team members from myself and the MySueno partner network to share their favorite campaigns. Below you can find an overview of our personal favorites of 2019, which were most eye opening on different grounds.
The 7 Sports Marketing Campaigns Of 2019 We Found Most Eye-Opening:
1. Nike - Dream Crazier Campaign with serena williams
We immediately thought of this campaign, as it gives a voice to women in the sports industry. In a powerful way, she shows which clichés exist of women in the sports industry (and beyond) have to deal with on a daily basis. Also outside the sports industry, there are still a lot of clichés that exist. She shows the vulnerability that is hidden under strong performances. Serena Williams calls to women in this campaign to ‘Dream Crazier’. She wants women to push their limits and come up against stereotyping and gender inequality. This was a clear trend in 2019: Sports marketing campaigns put more and more women in the spotlight. Because of this, inspiring examples that fight against gender stereotyping, got a strong voice in 2019.
Nike continued a follow-up to this campaign with an emotional film leading up to the World Championship for women’s football. The dreams of young mascots were the focus. Well done, Nike!
2. LeBron James - In-store aR
In 2019 AR was used significantly in sports marketing campaigns. Basketball legend LeBron James popped up in an in-store Snapchat AR experience for the Footlocker chain. In the Footlocker store you could see LeBron score by activating a code via Snapchat. Which sports legend would you like to see appear on your screen?
3. Dare to sponsor
A campaign that went straight to the heart in 2019 came from the Special Olympics Belgium team with the title ‘Dare to sponsor’. Athletes who participated in the Special Olympics wondered which companies would dare to sponsor them. After all, it is not easy for athletes with disabilities to get visibility. This campaign shows this beautifully. Great work, partially due to my former classmate Jeroen Bauters!
During the top soccer game between the British teams Manchester United and Manchester City, which was broadcasted on Belgian television, they showed only advertisements of the Belgian players on the field. Only the Belgian players were highlighted and the reason why they are so important for the team.
5. Anderlecht #thePrinceIsBack
In 2019 Vincent Kompany returned to Anderlecht, where it once all started for him. The message was announced in a brilliant way through the already legendary campaign ‘The prince is back’. Unfortunately, the ingenious marketing campaign did not pre-empt the following sporting results…
6. wimbledon - the story continues
Highlighting it’s many years of tradition and in the meantime taking a look at the future. Wimbledon did so with the ‘The Story Continues’ campaign to announce their re-branding. However, as they went through this re-branding process, the marketing and communication was rather inconsistent. This video announced their renewed brand identity where they see themselves as accessible to everyone.
7. Adidas - dare to create
What characteristics do you need, to be able to wear the new Adidas sneakers? Sports legends were involved in a mission impossible to show you how. It was called ‘the Dare to create campaign’.
8. vodafone #teamOfUs
A campaign to announce a sponsorship always contains a specific element of success, preferably even more than one. However, in every campaign this is crucial: there must be a clear link between the values of the brand and the values of the sport or team they collaborate with. Vodafone succeeded wonderfully, as they were honored for this campaign at the ESA Awards in 2019.
Vodafone wants to bring people together in building a better and more connected future. Vodafone has been a sponsor of the Irish rugby team for several years. Through this campaign, they extended the connection between the fans and the team. By interviewing players, fans and coaches, they showed the person behind the player. This was showed in several videos. Because of this the fans felt a personal connection with ‘their’ players.
A campaign that stood out, outside the world of sports:
EG - The girl and the Viking
I can’t help but to mention this campaign too. Not only because the Belgian company EG is one of my regular customers, but also because I was really moved by this campaign, which started in 2018 but continued in 2019.
Every consumer of EG products is driven by the idea that they would do anything to see someone healthy again. In order to connect with the consumer, EG made a touching video about a girl who gives her Viking doll back to her grandmother, hoping that her grandmother would heal. Because of the powerful emotions, the doll is brought to life. She finally finds comfort in her imaginary Viking friend.
EG also activated their consumers by offering the possibility to send Christmas and New Year’s wishes to loved ones with the girl and the Viking in the leading role.
Three sports marketing campaigns of 2017 and 2018 that also contain some best practices for 2020:
1. FC Bayern München - Personalized selfies with players
VR and AR have continued to gain importance in the recent years. One of the best and most memorable sports marketing campaigns of 2017 was a new feature in the app of FC Bayern München. Fans could take a picture with their favorite player, whenever and wherever they wanted. The campaign increased the bond between fans and players in a playful but effective way.
2. Nike – Launch of the Air Jordan III Tinker sneaker
Nike took the AR experience a step further by combining it with social media and e-commerce. For the pre-release of the Air Jordan III ‘Tinker’ sneaker, Nike worked together with Snapchat. The brand created a total experience for the fans present at the NBA All-Star game where the new sneaker was introduced. Fans could scan a code in the Snapchat app with a direct link to buy the sneakers. In cooperation with Darkstore, the fans were able to order the sneakers with delivery on the same evening. The shoes were sold out within 23 minutes. They even took a step further: the moment the fans entered the Snapchat app, the location of the Staples Center was showed, with Michael Jordan in his famous 1988 ‘Slam Dunk’ position. This was an excellent way for Nike to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Jordan’s famous slam dunk. As far as I’m concerned, this collaboration between Nike, Snapchat, Shopify and Darkstore was one of the best sports marketing campaigns of 2018.
3. Lionel Messi as an influencer
Sports campaigns using sports legends as influencers already exist a few years. But the size of this kind of sports campaigns has increased exponentially since 2018. Just think of FC Barcelona who, thanks to Lionel Messi as an influencer, had a huge increase of followers. They managed to put the whole team and their stories behind the scenes in the spotlight.
Messi was also featured in a commercial in 2019 by Pepsi Max, together with Mohamed Salah. The title of the commercial was ‘The last can standing’ and refers to Messi and Salah challenging each other to compete for the last can available of Pepsi Max.
I hope you got inspired by these campaigns! All that remains for me to do, is to share my plan for 2020 with you. I want to challenge myself and my partners to show real emotions in every campaign we develop. In the meantime, I will certainly keep a list of campaigns that pass by this year. That would have been very useful for writing this blog, since I had already forgotten half of the campaigns of 2019 :-).
Are there any marketing challenges on your list that you would like to tackle? Book a free strategy call and let us tackle them together!
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There are a lot of interesting sport marketing campaigns. In this blog you can find some examples as an inspiration for 2020.
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