Athletes work constantly to strengthen their bodies. In a similar fashion, Chicago-based Revolution uses sports to help brands strengthen customer relationships.
Doing that effectively is definitely more of a marathon than a sprint, says John Rowady, president of the sports marketing agency, which was founded in 2001.
“Consumers are overwhelmed by information today,” he says. “A lot of brands are looking to do things in short waves, like suddenly deciding to sponsor Tim Tebow because he’s hot. That’s a not a good strategy—you need to settle in and be creative in the way you run a campaign.”
Travelers Insurance, for example, settled in with the PGA in a big way by sponsoring a major golf tournament in Cromwell, CT, the Travelers Championship, which is televised over four days.
“Taking a lifestyle angle like this allows you to target your customer base around a sport or activity they like,” notes Rowady.
To amplify the investment Travelers made in the tournament beyond that single event itself—and to reach people who might not ever get to the tournament—Revolution created the Travelers Chipping Challenge, held in various locations around the country. Fans can play and win prizes, and met athletes at the event. Social and PR components help amplify impressions in key markets.
“How do you get the insurance buyer to be involved with the brand? This is one way to do it,” he says.
In virtual sports, Electronic Arts partnered with GameStop to promote its top-selling soccer video game FiFA. Street teams traveled in vans tricked out with FiFA imagery and visited events and parks to encourage game play.
“It created the ability for the game to surpass [the popularity] of Madden Football and get people who normally wouldn’t play soccer to test it out.”
While there’s a huge appetite for data and immersing consumers in the digital side of promotions, traditional media and live events will still have a huge place in the future, says Rowady.
“There’s a lot of scrambling and some people feel that digital needs to lead everything going on in a campaign,” he says. “But it will settle down into being a component.”