The power of sport: How CMOs can reach nine in ten households in 17 days
Almost every Australian household will be watching the Olympics. Brands that seek deeper connections, larger audiences and faster growth should put themselves on the podium.
With the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 less than 100 days away, the world is about to be reminded of the power of sport to unite people, ignite passion, surprise and delight us – and build bigger brands, fast.
The Olympics will look very different this time around, with no international spectators in the stands, reduced teams from some countries, and strict social distancing and other safety controls for the athletes, officials and media. But one thing will remain undiminished: the world will be obsessed with the Games and, once again, sport will dominate headlines, conversations and screens.
At the risk of stating the obvious, people here in Australia and around the world are feeling disconnected, battered and uncertain. The Olympics have a long history of bringing people together and this year, the Tokyo Opening Ceremony will represent a huge moment for humanity. Regardless of the smaller number of athletes marching, seeing 206 nations represented in a condensed parade of nations will inspire national pride and feel like a gold medal for every country.
Sport is, of course, more than sport. For Australians and many other nationalities, it’s an integral part of the national psyche. Here, summer equals cricket. Boxing Day means the start of the Sydney-Hobart yacht race. Winter is all about the footy.
Almost 70% of Australians describe themselves as fanatical supporters of a sport. With the Olympics, our viewing is higher here than in the US: 89% of households in Australia tuned into the 2016 Rio Olympics, compared with 78% of households in the US.
Sport creates moments that are unforgettable and, at times, instantly iconic – Steven Bradbury at the 2002 Winter Olympics, Cathy Freeman at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Australia winning the America’s Cup in 1983, and so many, many more.
Most people like sport and want to be part of it. That is particularly true in what is, for Australia, a largely Covid-free environment. According to research conducted by 7REDiQ and TEG Insights in March, 58% of people are keen to go to sporting events now that Covid-19 restrictions have been eased (and the same proportion want to go to live music concerts).
Sport is authentic, unpredictable and ritualistic. It creates a level of passion and engagement that is hard to find elsewhere. Sport brings communities together. For marketers, sport represents a pure and powerful way to connect with people. It puts brands close to the big moments, the unexpected moments that live in our minds forever. It is also a blank canvas, ready to be used to create marketing messages that – done correctly – resonate deeply with consumers.
Sport delivers consistently large audience numbers, including some hard-to-reach groups of consumers. Transcending demographics, it also means so much more than a CPM. Done right, sports marketing creates real connections and the ability to engage people over a sustained period – six months in the case of the AFL.
In recent months, we’ve seen more brands take AFL broadcast and digital sponsorships than ever before. But that’s perhaps unsurprising: At a time when Australian marketers are searching for new ways to grow and new ways to talk to customers in a post-pandemic world, sport offers connection, engagement and authenticity. It also delivers a level of certainty in an increasingly fragmented video world.
Using sport as a marketing vehicle is hardly a new idea. But the vehicle is changing and evolving. Consider these examples:
- Sport is creating better connections with viewers through new technology. The extraordinary digital innovations Seven and 7plus have developed for Tokyo 2020 will take those connections to a whole new level.
- We are seeing the increased use of sports stars as brand ambassadors and creative themed to specific sports.
- Brands are creating their own content or partnering with media companies to produce sport-based content.
- Viewers are increasingly hungry for sport content, both in season and off-season.
- Sport brings families together whether at home watching on the screen or at the ground. Brands that leverage both the on-ground experience and at-home experience will achieve better cut through.
As Tokyo 2020 draws closer, now is the perfect time for marketers to embrace the power of sports marketing. Kick some goals with customers, put your brand on the podium – and seize the opportunity to reach nine in ten Australian households in just a couple of weeks.