• How To Keep Fans Being Fans

  • Pangolin co-founder, David Phillips, discusses how sport-related brands can navigate the easing of lockdown.

    The global pandemic has hit the world of sport hard with competitions, leagues, cups and events cancelled due to the threat COVID-19 poses. This has led to many sport sponsorship brands pivoting the way in which they approach their partnerships and communicate with their audience. From a charity FIFA tournament hosted on Zoom, athletes sharing their at-home workouts over Instagram, to a nationwide virtual Football Pub Quiz – sponsors and partners have acted quickly and reacted to consumer’s needs and their own capabilities, with some brands even putting a stop to marketing completely.

    However, as lockdowns across the world begin to ease and discussions around restarting football leagues, cricket competitions and Formula 1 begin to gather pace, sport sponsorship brands need to consider their best approach to a post-COVID world of sport. One thing’s for sure, we won’t be going from zero to fully attended events – there will likely be a period where sport will be played, yet fans will be unable to attend. This provides sponsorship brands with an opportunity to think creatively about how they can still bring the fans to the game and the game to the fans:

         • Give the power of the cheer to fans in their own home; facilitating the ability for fans to sing for their team on the terraces whilst sat in their own living room via speakers or live video link.

         • Provide fans with the full gameday experience, from a behind the scenes insight into the preparation of a driver before an F1 race, to delivering fans the stadium snacks they usually enjoy on match day ahead of the big game.

         • Host drive-in viewing parties, where fans remain in their car (adhering to social distancing rules) and watch their team via a livestream as they compete behind closed doors.

         • Showcase the power and value that fans bring to sporting occasions – use athletes to tell personal stories of what fans mean to them.

         • Offer fans across the UK the chance to join the pundits’ with their post-game analysis from the comfort of their couch using one of the many apps that have helped us stay connected in recent months such as Instagram Live, Zoom or HouseParty.

    Whatever the creative, brands also need to tread carefully, be considerate of what the world has been through and certainly not ignore this transition period we all face:

         • Recognise the restrictions the world of sport still faces and refrain from organising events that will encourage mass gatherings and human contact.

         • Are there sports teams or communities who need support following the global pandemic? Don’t have tunnel vision and just look after yourself.

         • What role does your brand play in the world of support? Ensure your activation feels genuine and not misplaced.

    What we know for certain is the world of sport is not going to be the same for some time. But that doesn’t mean brands won’t benefit from their association. The brands who react to the situation, respond to consumer’s needs and recognise the new challenges we all face, will be the ones who will stand out and be appreciated – driving engagement with their audience and their reputation.