Passion Power: Engaging with today’s connected fan



( – By: Malati Siniah
It can turn the best of friends into enemies, shake up a country and even reduce a person into tears. Those who have overlooked the power and influence a sporting event wields don’t know the golden opportunity they are missing out on.

Engaged, passionate, social and interactive – Sports fans carry all the attractive attributes a marketer desires. Imagine your consumer as captivated by your product as how a Manchester United fan is about his favourite team. The late nights spent watching a game and the fights with a rival team, no other genre evokes high levels of passion like sports, being Live, natural and unscripted.

Fan passion can often equate to brand passion and sports marketing has the ability to deliver fans for brands as well as opportunities to create multiple marketing platforms to build long-term relationships between sponsors and sports aficionados.

Enhancing the fan experience
While we see them at the peak of their game – scoring that winning goal, all smiles mixed with tears having lived up to the expectations of those cheering their names in the stadiums and at home, it really is not easy being an athlete.

Adding value to the fan experience, Under Armour launched their campaign right before the recent Olympic Games to give fans a behind-the-scenes look into the lives of their favourite athletes namely swimming champion Michael Phelps and the US gymnastics team.

The ‘Rule Yourself’ campaign featured the athlete’s gruelling training regimes, for Phelps it was his intense gym workouts and ice baths while the other ad for the gymnastics team showcased the girls training until their hands bled.

The campaign has picked up multiple awards this year including a Grand Prix at this year’s Cannes Lions. Crafted to highlight the brand’s tagline, “It’s What You Do in the Dark That Puts You in the Light.” Launched early this year, the campaign did well as it went beyond just putting a face to its brand. Giving fans an exclusive glimpse into their sporting idols private moments and adding value to the fans as they got to understand their heroes better, all thanks to the brand who had bridged this divide.

Celebrating the fan
As the official beer sponsor for this year’s UEFA Euro cup held in France, Carlsberg launched its ‘La Revolution’ ad campaign which aligned their brand with the football fans.

The ad, set during the French revolution, featured ex-footballer Marcel Desailly playing a French revolutionary leader who steals tickets to the football match from the rich French aristocrats and sharing them with his fellow football fans. To better connect with fans the spot also carried inside jokes such as the match predicting octopus and the vuvuzela, a throwback to the past World Cup.
Speaking on the campaign Richard Whitty, Senior Marketing Manager Football at Carlsberg, shared that the campaign was created with the mindset of ‘doing football better for fans.’

Understanding how hard it was for fans to get tickets to watch their favourite football stars, as part of the campaign, Carlsberg gave away its most number of tickets giving fans a better opportunity to experience the tournament.

Capturing the local audience
It has been a great year for Malaysian sports, from movies such as Ola Bola bringing back the heydays of Malaysian football, to the spirit and vigour of current top local football clubs such as JDT and Kelantan FA inspiring their fans, and the magnificent showing from our athletes at the Rio Olympics.


Over the season, we have seen how local brands have been winning big through marketing opportunities in the domestic sports scene. Several sponsors have developed smart marketing campaigns around sports, and developed innovative ways on leveraging sports to activate their brands. It is heartening to see a strong trend on how local brands have gone beyond logo awareness or audience reach to build relationships directly with target audiences and engaging them in deeper, more relevant and effective ways.

A major theme we’ve seen recently is how brands are now savvier in including activation activities to bring their brands to life, and this is making a difference in their sponsorship programs. Local brands are getting savvier on using sports sponsorship as an effective marketing tool, specifically in terms of getting audiences to relate back to the brand.

Malaysian football fans love to attend Live events with their friends and families, which is a strong selling feature of the local football championship, M-League, thanks to its strong fan support at the stadiums.

Several local brands have been astute in exploiting opportunities…..

To read the full article get your hands on MARKETING Magazine’s November-December 2016 issue.


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