The State Of Digital Marketing In Sports (Infographic)

I have to admit, it has been a challenge keeping a regular blog schedule with a 2 month old little girl in the house now (not to mention a 3 year old little boy) and grad school, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. It keeps things interesting. I find myself having to use random times and places to work on posts. A couple of weeks ago, between trying to keep my son in bed and checking my iPad and the T.V. for Cleveland Indian’s updates, I remembered about this infograhic (from ECAL), The State of Digital Marketing in Sports.

Not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this, I love infographics.  They provide an eye catching, easy to read, quick method for delivering statics, facts and figures, but I digress. In marketing it is important to understand the different channels and what makes each successful. As a marketer, I also know how valuable it is to understand what your audience is paying attention to. I am a huge sports fan as well, which is why this infographic caught my eye. Taking a look at a specific demographic like sports fans and what companies are doing to reach those individuals makes sense, look at all the marketing campaigns centered around sports and athletes. While reading through it, a few of the points jumped out at me:

Individuals reach for their phone 150X a day– now that is a lot of checking the phone. One of the reasons I feel like the term Head Down Nation is so true. The graphic further breaks down of what people are checking with those 150X.

Going digital: MLS has stopped printing schedules– This makes sense to me; if people are using their phones to check schedules, why waste the time and money printing them.

Community based initiatives– Teams and leagues are utilizing the social media communities and creating specific campaigns directed towards them utilizing hashtags, retweets, shares and likes.

Personalization of services– with sports apps and websites, users can customize them with their favorite teams and leagues to create a one-of-a-kind experience.

Sports are big business and fans are big users of mobile devices and social media. Want to tap into that market and reach those potential customers? This infographic provides reasons for having a digital marketing strategy to do so.

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This is SportsCenter

SportsCenter

A couple of weeks ago ESPN had a special called the Top 50 This is SportsCenter commercials hosted by actor Jason Sudeikis. They started this campaign back in 1997 to highlight their flagship program, SportsCenter. For a campaign to last 16 years, it must to be a good one. It seems like most campaigns will last a few months, maybe a year and then it is on to a new one to keep things fresh. ESPN has done something right with the This is SportsCenter campaign and after watching the countdown I decided to discuss why I think it is such a good campaign and why it has held up.

SportsCenter Countdown

They Keep it Simple/Know who they are: ESPN is all about sports and SportsCenter gives the latest scores and highlights for the sports world, so what do the commercials deal with… sports. The campaign doesn’t try and get fancy or cute. They even use current players, coaches, sports personalities and mascots in the commercials. ESPN is in the business of sports and that is what their commercials are about.

Humor: The commercials are funny and some of them are really funny. I can’t think of one that hasn’t made me laugh. As long as they keep coming up with funny jokes and scenarios, the commercials will continue to be entertaining and memorable. Think about the commercials that you remember, chances are some of them are funny ones.

Make fun of themselves: ESPN and the SportsCenter anchors are not afraid of poking a little fun at themselves. Whether it is making fun of how ESPN only covers the Yankees and the Red Sox or certain quirks an anchor has, they don’t hold back.  Some of the commercials have even dealt with how easy it is to be a SportsCenter anchor.

Not afraid to be edgy: ESPN comes off as a pretty straight forward and conservative company.  With these commercials though, they aren’t afraid to get a little edgy.  There is The Swim Suit Calendar with the anchors doing a photo-shoot in swim suits (even Linda Cohn), The Bed Wetter with Scott Van Pelt getting the nickname Bed Wetter and the Locker Room with Dan Patrick and Trey Wingo in towels doing interviews about how the show went. As a whole ESPN stays pretty conservative, but going outside that with these commercials adds to their entertainment level.

Stay relevant: Sports stories are changing all the time. One day a player or team is in the spotlight and the next day they are old news. The commercials stay up to date and feature current people and stories of the sports world. This keeps things fresh and relevant and from feeling overplayed.

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As a huge sports fan I am frequently watching ESPN and have seen just about all of the commercials. It was nice getting to see some of my favorites in this countdown.  I thought about listing my favorites, but there were just too many. If you want to check out the commercials visit ESPN’s YouTube page HERE. It is not often we see a campaign last for 16 years, but if you can do what they have and find that right combination, I say stick with it as long as you can.

Author: Gary Balakoff

Top 3 AT&T It’s Not Complicated kids commercials

One of the better campaigns out right now is AT&T’s It’s Not Complicated kids campaign. They are some of my favorite commercials running at this time. I love the off-the-cuff feel and how the kids seem to drive the conversations. Yes, I have read articles talking about how the commercials are not completely adlib and that there is a basic scripted idea. However the articles also mentioned that the directors will let the kids talk and see where it goes, a film everything and see what there is in the end approach. Obviously the kids steal the show, but the actor (Beck Bennett) is just as funny and delivers the right amount of lines to enhance the comedic level without overshadowing the kid’s performances.

Since I enjoy this campaign so much I thought I would rank my top 3.

Honorable Mentions: Dizzy (here) and Nicky Flash (here)

These two crack me up, but just weren’t funny enough to make my top 3.  They were good enough that I had to at least mention them, so feel free to click the links and view them.

Number 3: More

The girl’s rambling about why someone would want more seems to go nowhere, but strangely enough I feel like I can follow her thinking.  This sediment is backed up by Beck’s nicely placed line “I follow you”.

 

Number 2: Werewolf

The little girl’s statement about becoming a werewolf is so random. She goes on and on about becoming a werewolf as an example for why it is better to be fast. The rambling in this spot actually does go nowhere, but is funny enough that I don’t really care. My favorite part being when she makes the growling noise and then translates it. Beck delivers a perfectly timed and confused sounding “what?” that wraps it up nicely.

 

and Number 1: Tree House

The disco comment is funny but the little boy’s delivery when he is talking about the T.V. is amazing and such a representation of how kids communicate (trust me I have a 3 year old boy of my own). That boy steals the show.  Not to mention that he is talking about putting a flat screen in a tree house, which is funny enough.  This commercial makes me laugh every time I see it, even when I looked up the clip for this post.

 

If you are interested, there is a short behind the scenes video on the making of these commercials HERE.

Author: Gary Balakoff

F.O.M.O. (An Infographic on Social Media Users)

I saw the infographic below on my Google+ page. It has some good statistics about social media and users of social media. The statistic that stood out to me was the one on F.O.M.O. (Fear Of Missing Out). It shows that 56% of people surveyed suffer from F.O.M.O. and are afraid they will miss something important if they aren’t keeping up with their accounts. As a proponent of social media marketing, this is the behavior that I want to tap into. If I provide relevant content on a regular basis, it is this behavior that will allow my marketing to be seen and can create awareness for social media campaigns. I still need to provide content that gets individuals to respond and take action, but knowing about F.O.M.O. helps in understanding the behaviors of social media users and who is seeing the messages. Are there any statistics that stood out to you or that you find useful?

SocialMediaAddictionInfographic

Author: Gary Balakoff

Note: This post is a couple days late, however my wife and I just welcomed our second child to the family.  Things have been a little busy but posts will get back on track in two weeks.

Google Maps, Twitter and a Hashtag equal Engagement and Promotion

scavenger-hunt

I have a passion for social media and the role it can play in marketing. I believe it can be a powerful and successful marketing tool, especially when it compliments traditional techniques. That is not to say that some social media campaigns can’t stand alone. One social media campaign that recently caught my eye was for the Firefly Music Festival held in Dover, Delaware a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately I was unable to attend the festival (looked like an amazing line up), but I did catch their twist on the Twitter scavenger hunt for free tickets. If you are not familiar with how a Twitter scavenger hunt works, it is pretty simple, in order to give away free promotional items, you hide said items out in public somewhere. Then you leave clues on where to find the promotional item on your Twitter feed. The first person to follow the clues and find the prize wins.

The promotional gurus for the Firefly Music Festival took the traditional Twitter scavenger hunt and added a nice twist. They paired it with Google Maps and a custom hashtag (#Firefly2013) for the festival. Then, instead of tweeting out the clues to the hidden tickets, they had followers tweet out the hashtag. How did one find out where the tickets were then? A special Google Map web page was set up (see it here) and the location would be shown on the map. However the map started zoomed all the way out, the more tweets they got with the hashtag, the closer they brought the map, until it was close enough to see where the tickets were hidden.

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While past scavengers hunts I have seen get you Twitter followers, this version added a few results that I find quite beneficial.

  1. Awareness and Promotion:  For one, contestants had to visit a special web page (here); this web page is full of marketing and promotions for the concert and links to additional information. Secondly, users were tweeting out the hashtag so everyone in their networks was seeing it. Hundreds of people tweeting to hundreds of followers… do the math, that is a lot of people reading about Firefly Music Fest or at least seeing the hashtag.
  2. Trending Topic: By having the participants tweet #Firefly2013 over and over, there is the potential to get the hashtag trending. It might be really tough to get it trending nationally, but could very easily start trending regionally. Regardless if it trends or not, the event hashtag is getting posted hundreds of times throughout the day.
  3. Audience Engagement: With past Twitter scavenger hunts, the goal is to get a lot of additional followers and then send out a lot of posts to Twitter. With Firefly’s set up, you are getting your followers to do the posting, the organizers only needed to control the Google Map. The contest is tapping into user generated content and getting the users to push out the tweets for you.

I am always in favor of adding social media to your marketing mix. It can open up opportunities to be more creativity. Social media contests are on every format, and whether you are looking to get followers, shares, likes or to gather emails with yours, why not add an element that makes it stand out and creates additional return.

Author: Gary Balakoff

Truth or Just Gross- Too much shock in ads

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I have always been a fan of the Truth, anti-smoking campaigns.  For one, I agree with the message they are trying to send, but I also love the creativity and guerilla marketing style the commercials portray. About a week ago though, I saw their latest ad and I have mixed feelings. It got me thinking, when does advertising become too over-the-top and distract from your message.

Their commercial is called Ugly Truth: Poop vs Pee, take a look:

I get that the Truth campaign is about shock value, but I feel like this is a bit much.  When I saw it, I wasn’t shocked at the information they were giving me about smoking, I was shocked at the images I was seeing on the TV. Also, it took seeing the ad a few more times to really understand the message they were trying to pass along. Shocking or surprising content in a commercial is a valid tactic, but when does it become too much.  Is there a point, at which we can say, that is too much shock value, our ad is losing its effectiveness?

I don’t have that answer, but what I can say is that a commercial or any ad should leave the recipient thinking about the product or service you are trying to sell.  An ad should make someone want to go buy what you are selling or at least want to find out more about it. When a commercial gets to the point that it is all shock and no content I think it starts to be less effective. When people start to walk away thinking about how crazy a commercial or ad was instead of the message you were trying to give about your products or services, it may be time to start scaling back on the shock.

Author: Gary Balakoff

Taco Bell, Star Wars and Luke Skywalker

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As a huge fan of Star Wars and Taco Bell’s Dorito Loco Tacos, I would like to use Luke Skywalker blowing up the Death Star to highlight what I like about how Taco Bell handled the launch of the Cool Ranch version of the Loco Taco.

When Taco Bell launched the Doritos Loco Taco (can’t believe it took so long for someone to figure that amazing combination out) it was an instant success.  In fact it became the fastest selling Taco Bell item of all time (source). Personally, I think they are delicious and contributed to those sales figures. It wasn’t long after the release of the Nacho Cheese flavored taco that chatter for a Cool-Ranch flavored one started.  Talk of a Cool Ranch Loco Taco seemed to be everywhere, friends, co-workers, social media, radio and TV. I kept hearing people say, if Taco Bell was making a Nacho Cheese one, it only makes sense to have a Cool Ranch one. However, there was no announcement or release of a Cool Ranch taco and Taco Bell was sitting tight with just the nacho cheese one.

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This brings me to Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope (because we all know the original trilogy is all that matters, but that is a completely different post). The strategy Taco Bell chose to go with is much like the strategy Luke Skywalker employed to destroy the Death Star in the movie. At the end of the movie Luke is part a squadron of fighter pilots that must hit a specific target to destroy the evil empire’s massive starship, the Death Star. Luke is able to get himself within striking distance of the target and is moving in to take the shot. As he does so Darth Vader (the enemy) starts chasing him. Now Luke has a fairly clear shot, although from some distance, but chooses to get closer and closer to have a better shot, even with Darth Vader closing in on him. Despite the pressure of Darth Vader about to shoot him down, Luke stays his course and gets in position for the perfect shot… BOOM, destroying the Death Star and saving the day.

Taco Bell, much like Luke waited, even with all the pressure to release a Cool Ranch Loco Taco, for the best possible moment.  Think about it, the Nacho Cheese flavored taco was breaking sales records and a Cool Ranch flavored one would have just added to those sales, but that would have given Taco Bell only one wave of excitement, with the flavors running parallel.  Instead Taco Bell waited and waited, even with all the demand, till the right time when the hype was calming down for the Nacho Cheese flavor. Then, with a very strategic launch, started a brand new wave of excitement with the Cool Ranch flavor. This may not have been easy, but by taking the same approach as Luke Skywalker and waiting for that perfect shot, Taco Bell created two very successful product launches for each of the flavors, not just one combined launch with the flavors together. They even made light of it in their commercials for the Cool Ranch Loco Taco.

With your campaigns, do you have the nerve to go against popular opinion? Can you stick to the plan you think will get you the most success even with your customer base and/or critics saying you should do something else? Will the Force be with you like it was for Luke Skywalker and Taco Bell?

Author: Gary Balakoff