Major sporting events are truly golden opportunities for brands, whether it be through sponsorships, half-time commercials, special activities or shows. Pushing the limits of creativity, advertisers contribute to the fan experience, namely through digital technology, which enables sports enthusiasts to take part in the festivities from anywhere in the world. Today, sports, food and digital technology form an inseparable trio!
With its ability to bring together communities around the world, digital technology allows people across the planet to discover sports that were once unknown outside their country of origin. For example, who knew anything about Gaelic football or hurling as recently as a few years ago, apart from the Irish?
Obviously, video recording and broadcast technologies also enable fans around the world to follow matches live on the other side of the globe.
|Certain leagues or events that have not yet reached peak popularity in France are can’t-miss affairs elsewhere: take for example the NFL Superbowl, the first that springs to mind, which reaches around 100 million viewers in the USA, or the international cricket championship, a big hit in India, with an audience of 340 million… And these dizzying figures are only for the broadcast itself, not the comments on social networks or the reuse or ‘hickjacing’ of footage!|
Advertising visuals have also changed a great deal! Digital billboards that enable ads to be targeted based on the audience, replacing good old vinyl banners and advertising posters, have only just started making their mark. The same goes for on-screen information: from performance stats to player profiles, viewers no longer miss out on any key details thanks to augmented screens!
This success clearly creates a few problems: with broadcast rights increasingly costly and closely monitored, some pubs flout the law and broadcast matches without a licence at their watering holes. Recently, in the United Kingdom during the last Premier League season, several establishments were hit with stiff fines for such copyright violations.
Indeed, the broadcast rights market is another interesting topic. For example, Amazon Prime Video has just acquired the TV rights in France for the French Open tennis tournament – including certain exclusive license agreements – right under the nose of long-standing players such as France Télévisions. Yet more proof, if any were needed, that digital pure players hold a few big surprises in this arena.
Of course, sport is much more than simply watching a match at the stadium or on television. For a long time now, the second screen has been a handy complement to the first, and conversations between friends have now shifted onto the Web: type the Twitter hashtag for any match underway and you will find yourself in the world’s biggest fan zone, with all the passion, comments, heckling and puns one could ever imagine. The most fervent, boldest fans also bet a lot: whether for fun (for example, Mon Petit Gazon) or for money, there is no shortage of easy-to-find – and sometimes addictive – sports betting applications.
From a mere spectator or gambler, you can also evolve into a fully-fledged athlete. In the era of the quantified self, there is a wide range of apps that enable you to measure your own performance, to boost your stamina, to share your performances and much more. Whether you are using Strava or Nike Run Club, you can always find a group to take part in and that, in return, will cheer you on before, during and after your workouts. As is often the case, problems related to data privacy and security are never far behind, with questions such as “Who has access to my data?” or “Can I be constantly tracked?” coming up. Notable examples of such risks include the Pentagon memo reminding US soldiers not to post their jogging paths online, and the French DGSE external intelligence agents who were pinpointed because they were using personal geo-tracking services on a secret military base on foreign soil.
Finally, how can we discuss sports in this day and age without mentioning e-sports? While the discipline was little known to the general public only a few years ago, e-sports has now broken into the mainstream. The winnings at stake illustrate this: while the first-place rider in the Tour de France takes home a €500,000 prize, the top performer in the online videogame Fortnite Solo walks away with €2.7 million.
So, what about food in all this?
|During the last Rugby World Cup in 2015, some 2 million litres of beer were downed in the tournament’s stadiums and host cities. The organizers, who feared they would run out of the foamy brew, called on Japan (the next host country) to stock up in advance and avoid any potential shortage.|
Local, national and international sports events draw millions and fans and experience has shown that these fans get very hungry and thirsty. This year, Sopexa is supporting the French Ministry of Agriculture and Food during the Rugby World Cup, to be held from 20 September to 2 November in Japan. For 2 weeks, fans will have the opportunity to enjoy French products while enjoying the festive, sportsmanlike atmosphere at the France fan zone.
Advertisers have clearly understood the interest of this: advertising space is snapped up quickly during major matches and tournaments, home delivery food orders soar and some players, like Uber Eats, go so far as to sponsor sporting events. In Brazil, the most diehard fans can even buy a dual season TV pass that includes live broadcasts of league football matches and the refreshments to go with it: the Brahma beer brand offers bottles of cold brew decked out in the colours of the two teams squaring off, delivered right to viewers’ doorsteps in less than an hour.
The way fans “consume” sports has changed greatly in recent years, showing the need for advertisers to constantly adapt their strategies. Digital media, which enhances the fan experience, offers innovative communication tools and channels that generate a host of new opportunities. See you soon in Japan to get a close-up look at the latest marketing innovations and celebrate rugby!
|By Thomas Fournier, Global Digital Director