Getting Future Fit

Last week I went to a conference called Future Fit: How brands can capitalise on the new sports marketing opportunity. It was short and sweet – eight sessions crammed into three and a half hours. The bite sized chunks worked perfectly, the pace was fast and I never felt my concentration drifting. Thanks to Campaign and We are Social Sport for putting on a great event. Here’s some highlights from the day.

What I got from it

Sport is big. KPMG estimate that the global sports industry is worth up to $700 billion1. In the UK we watch or listen to 122 hours of sport every year2, while 16 million of us play sports weekly3 (thanks to the NFL and Wasserman for highlighting some impressive statistics).

Sports brands are nothing without their community (note, it’s not audience or consumer in this world). Engagement comes from seeing beyond the ‘fan’ label to understand what is really important in their lives and what they want to get from sport. This means the NFL delivering cool, fun and authentic experiences, or Nature Valley hosting their own Battle of the Sexes.

Goosebumps. Literally. The event was in the Curzon cinema, and seeing brand campaigns up on the big screen was really powerful. Most notably the Tango Squad from Adidas. The drama, the characters, the tension: exactly the type of passion that you want to attach your brand to. A reminder that the cinema is still the top channel for generating an emotional response, as also seen in a recent Re-evaluating Media report from Radiocentre and ebiquity.

What I didn’t get

“Dark social”…. had to Google that phrase. Now, obviously, that makes perfect sense and it’s what we all do every day with our personal communities. No wonder brands want in.

E-sports. Seems to be a very male space still, and doesn’t seem particularly sporty! But that said, it is reaching huge audiences and particularly connecting young people. It only surfaced a couple of times but as a mass consumption activity I’m sure it will keep rising up the agenda.

Where is the return on investment? We heard about sales growth from Lucozade Sport and Nature Valley but from other brands this was notably absent. Being visible and being part of the conversation were seen as an end in themselves. Presumably the plan is that mere exposure effect generates brand warmth now, and hopefully revenue in the future, but no one talked about tracking this.

Where we can go with it

Obviously I wasn’t just there for a jolly (or the free cake – although that was a delicious if slightly off-topic mid-morning snack). I was also wondering how Incite can fit into this space. The strongest research needs seem to be in understanding that community brands want to serve. Football fans aren’t just football fans, and not all football fans are the same. Understanding the nuances is key to adding value to this relationship.

As James Young from Lucozade Sport highlighted, all of that effort to connect is in the hope that if you add enough value, your community will ultimately buy your product. And you can only be where the fans are, serving them what they want, if you really understand them.

Get in touch to find out how Incite can help your brand.

1 / KPMG

2 / BHF

3 / Sport England