Sports marketing continues to boom to make brands matter

08:32 | 20/05/2019
Sports marketing is quickly gaining ground in Asia as more global events like the Olympic Games are held in the region and brands recognise the powerful impact of sports. Scott Kronick, chief executive of Public Relations & Influence at Ogilvy Asia, shared his thoughts with VIR’s Nam Phuong on this rising trend.
sports marketing coutinues to boom to make brands matter
Scott Kronick, chief executive of Public Relations & Influence at Ogilvy Asia

In your opinion, what opportunities does sports marketing offer for brands? Is there any challenge to this form of marketing?

First of all, sports provide a fantastic platform, and sports events like the Olympic Games are packed with great spirit, celebrating potential, sportsmanship, and excellence on the global level. People connect to sports on an emotional level, as they see athletes spending their whole life for one goal and one chance. That type of commitment is very powerful and moving.

When an athlete receives a medals carries their flag, and sings their national anthem, it’s a source of pride for a lot of people. Sports also represent people coming together in friendly competition to achieve their dreams.

It’s not surprising that many brands want to be linked to these kinds of ideals. By quickly associating with a sports event or an athlete, the brand gets the “reference bump” to achieve awareness or whatever communications objective they have in mind.

Sports marketing has been around for a long time, but I think it got a big boost around 40 years ago. In Asia, it’s still developing and we’re starting to see the fruits of real growth, especially with South Korean, Chinese, and Australian brands. A lot of people follow sports and entertainment, and brands are striving to understand whether these are the platforms to reach their target audience in a new, different, and nuanced way

There are of course risks associated with sports marketing, no matter what avenue a brand uses. That’s why companies like Ogilvy are here to help clients do the assessment and manage the risks together.

What advice do you usually give clients on sports marketing? How can brands be successful when associating themselves with sports events?

The first thing brands need to do before they consider sports marketing is to set their goals – What are they trying to achieve with their campaign? Second, brands need an idea that captures the spirit of the sponsorship. Then they need to make sure that the idea reaches the right person with the right execution strategy.

In other words, brands need “to roll up their sleeves and do the work” – execution is the highest form of strategy and brands must do it wonderfully. It really begins with what the brand want to achieve and who they want to achieve it with, then we can talk about tactics, such as whether they should sponsor the World Cup or have their logos appear on the jerseys of football teams.

Other factors to consider are the target audience’s emotions, creativity, offering more than what brands usually do. It’s also helpful to leverage the tools to evaluate the total impacts, promote patriotism, and understand risks. Last but not least, brands should keep an eye on the competition and don’t forget about their employees.

Can you share some examples of good sports marketing, from around the world and from Ogilvy itself?

I love sports and especially the Olympic Games, so I have a lot of personal favourites related to this event. One is the “Impossible is Nothing” campaign by Adidas during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which features Chinese people cheering their athletes to win.

Then in the 2012 London Olympics, P&G also did a wonderful campaign called “Thank You, Mom” with athletes expressing their gratitude to mothers. Another favourite campaign of mine is Louis Vuitton’s Core Value, which had football legends Pele, Zidane, and Maradona playing table football together.

For Ogilvy, we’re very proud of our strategic communications campaign for the 18th Asian Games last year in Jakarta of Indonesia. We acted as the catalyst between the media and the Games’ public relations division to synchronise messages to the public. Ogilvy helped 11,000 journalists at the Main Media Centre, created a narrative, and proposed activities to increase the level of support and participation. One example includes the Torch Relay series in more than 50 cities across Indonesia.

In terms of results, we recorded a surge in visitors on September 25 and 26, peaking at 150,000 visitors at the Asian Games Festival. The number of generated coverage reached 15,282 (competition-based news) and 1,256 (human interest-based articles) between August and September, projected to reach 4.3 billion readers all over region.

We heard that Ogilvy was chosen to carry out public relations duties for the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022. Can you share with us why Ogilvy was selected and what communications strategy you have in mind for this event?

I believe our team won because we are considered the leading international PR firm in Asia. The Olympics Committee wants a firm that understands the local and international environment and we’ve successfully demonstrated it with a strong proposal and extensive experience with previous sports events. We also know a lot of brands that can be associated with the Games, and last but not least, Ogilvy can carry out both the idea and execution part equally well.

Our role is to help the committee communicate their plans to the world and find the story that they can amplify. We help them craft the right message to the right target audience. Just last week, the Games kicked off the “1,000 Days to Go” campaign with a ceremony and a promotional video. A lot of other exciting activities will follow in the coming months as we continue with the campaign.

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