Football stadium

The biggest sporting events in the world have the power to turn heads in a way in an almost unrivalled way. The Ashes, the Super Bowl, tennis grand slams, the Ryder Cup, football and rugby world cups draw huge fan bases from across the globe.

The level of excitement surrounding top level sporting encounters draws huge audiences of highly-engaged fans and this presents itself with an opportunity for businesses.

With people glued to the action – often freely available on terrestrial television – there’s a chance for a firm to get its name in front of the eyes of billions of people in both established and emerging markets.

Having a brand name attached to a top sporting event allows it to be associated with the elite competition and, as a result, appear an elite player in its own field. The exposure can have a big impact too. Take the Rugby World Cup for example. England is braced to host the 2015 tournament and one of the event’s sponsors will be hoping to repeat the success of SAB Miller – the firm whose shares soared by 7.5% as a result of the 2007 event. The fact that such events show an impact on markets such as forex demonstrates their power perfectly.

These days however, sponsorship stretches far beyond advertising boards – with social media allowing for an interactive relationship between the customer and the brand. Nowadays a brand needn’t just be focussed on simply getting more customers, but also on developing a better and longer lasting relationship with them.

Sports fans are often already engaged users of social media – posting and sharing pictures, news and views on their favourite stars on Twitter and Facebook, for example.

When it comes to large events, it’s not just the action itself that presents an opportunity for a big brand – but also the fact that there is a large, active fanbase of potential customers to embrace. A study by Catalyst showed that 56% of customers say they are more likely to like or follow a brand that supports its favourite team, while 43% per cent say they would be enticed by a competition to win a sport-related prize. Use of Facebook and Twitter on match days spikes by 5-6 times, showing the big amount of traffic.

So by uploading fun, shareable, eye-catching content to social media around the time of a sporting event there is the chance to earn goodwill and grab attention.

Paddy Power offers a good example of this. During the Ryder Cup the betting company, notorious for its cheeky stunts, enlisted the services of UKIP leader and chief Eurosceptic Nigel Farage to wax lyrical about the virtues of Europe. It was a fun piece of content that was shared by many golf and sport fans and ensured the company stood out in a highly competitive betting market.

Sporting events clear offer an opportunity for brands. But now, thanks largely to social media, that opportunity extends to helping the wider customer experience and an experience that is far beyond simply that of ‘buyer and seller’ but instead loyal, engaged follower of a brand – a relationship more akin to that of the ‘fan and team’ so common in sports.

By Tami Briesies, Zazzle Media