On Tuesday June 2nd, 2020, brands and organizations of all types blacked out their social media pages and some used hashtags such as #BlackOutTuesday, #BlackLivesMatter and #TheShowMustBePaused. Some criticized the effort because it made it was clogging up channels that protesters rely on to spread information.
Nevertheless, brands spoke up to show the public which side they’re on. Admirable, unless you happen to be a brand that has been accused for decades of racial insensitivity. Those tweets just came off as sounding hypocritical and tone-deaf.
Many pro sports teams have refused to change their names and mascots and even chants that mock or dehumanize native Americans. That’s their choice, but pairing that with a tweet meant to convey empathy for black, brown and native American populations just adds gasoline to the fire. Here’s a sample:
Why it’s Hot
For some brands, expressing solidarity with a repressed segment of America feels natural and progressive. For others, it’s a trap (of their own making).
An Allstate ad that aired with “The Last Dance”, a documentary about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, featured a 90s-era clip of SportsCenter newscaster Kenny Mayne making startlingly accurate predictions about our current world.
Though it looks real, the ad is doctored. Old footage was combined with the mouth and voice of the current Kenny Mayne to create a realistic portrayal.
While this is not the first time the ad industry has used deepfake technology to create ads, this may be part of a larger trend as advertisers explore ways to create content as they face limited production possibilities during the COVID-19 lock-down, the New York Times reports.
Where do sports fans turn when every major league across the country, and even the world is cancelling seasons? The Marble Racing League. What else would you expect?
The company’s now-viral marble races, which appeared on ESPN’s 2019 ‘The Ocho’ programming, started in 2006 as a YouTube channel called “Jelle’s Knikkers,” which is Dutch for Jelle’s Marbles.
Jelle’s Marble Racing has seen a 339% increase in YouTube views and >999% spike in subscribers in the last week as fans tune in for the Rojo Rollers and Savage Speeders.
A video of an old Marble League sand race went viral, racking up 33.3 million views, almost 781,000 likes and landing on ESPN’s SportsCenter.
The league plans to continue with its two weekly uploads through the end of the current Marbula One season. Once a champion is crowned, Jelle hopes to prepare the studio for the upcoming Marble League 2020 season, which will begin in May/June.
Why it’s hot:
With seasons cancelled and teams closing down facilities, it’ll be interesting to see how other outlets or organizations thrive. Or will nostalgia take over and people consume old school content? It’ll be interesting to see.
Lighting for nighttime sports is scarce in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam, making it hard for people to enjoy outdoor activities, like football and skateboarding, at night. The desire to play sports at night is especially strong in Vietnam because of the intense daytime heat and humidity. Red Bull, being all about energy and action, used this as an opportunity to create a social benefit while aligning the brand with a different kind of energy than caffeine: solar.
To do this, they painted a grid of used Red Bull cans black, in order to soak up the sun’s energy during the day, then stored that energy in batteries, which were used to power flood lights, making nighttime games and sports possible.
Why it’s hot:
Instead of just throwing up some standard billboards in outdoor recreation areas, Red Bull decided to be user-centered, looking to solve a real problem first, and found a clever way for the brand to participate in a more meaningful way within the culture it wants to attract.
1. Alignment: Red Bull sells an image of passion — a desire to go “all out” for one’s dreams, and this project fits perfectly with that image.
2. Social benefit: This hits on all cylinders for Red Bull. It positions the brand as essential to the sports it’s supporting, while repurposing resources, reducing energy use, and showing off its innovation chops. Helping people in this small way with things they are passionate about extends good will toward the brand far beyond the initial investment.
USA Swimming, the national governing body for the sport of swimming in America, U.S. Masters Swimming and Golden Road Brewing has announced a new multi-year partnership, marking the first-ever alcohol sponsorship for USA Swimming.
As part of the partnership, Golden Road will serve as co-presenting sponsor of VIP hospitality experiences at USA Swimming House and USA Swimming Live at next year’s U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Omaha, Neb. The brewery will also hold activation rights in the Toyota Aqua Zone and serve as presenting sponsor of the “Last Session Show” and the Golden Goggles red carpet show. In a unique extension, Golden Road will also implement an athlete support program that provides financial support to adult athletes, as well as industry exposure and professional training.
A former captain of the Yale University swim team, Gill co-founded the Los Angeles, California-based brewery in 2011 when she was just 25. In 2015, Anheuser-Busch bought Golden Road.
“My dream since I was a little girl was to spread the passion and excitement I felt for swimming with others. My second love, beer, happens to have the ability to bring fans together and add to the enjoyment of watching competition,” Gill said. “By chance meeting last summer at the Nationals, I realized USA Swimming’s leadership team had a big vision of taking the sport of swimming to new heights — so our teams have worked on a truly unique partnership to help drive excitement for fans and athletes leading into a major year for swimming on the global stage. I can’t wait to enjoy a Golden Road beer while watching my favorite swimmers compete for a spot in Tokyo next summer.”
Adidas Soccer revealed the Telstar 18, a reimagining of the original Telstar ball used at the tournament back in 1970 to be featured in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
It will be the most tech-savvy ball in history with an NFC microchip embedded inside. The chip will allow consumers to interact directly with the ball using their smartphones. Each ball generates a unique identifier, unlocking exclusive content and information for the user about the details of each ball and providing access to challenges that users can enter before the World Cup.
In short, passionate soccer fans can tap their phone on the ball to unlock a consumer experience – technically this could be anything from player exclusive content, to games, to Adidas’s discounts, to brand co-partnership
Why It’s Hot:
Harnesses a red-hot passion point (aka soccer) at a global scale
Enables increased product sales (the balls)
Delivers on a unique and exclusive consumer experience
“Essentially what happens is customers can purchase a jersey for their favorite player and unlock “premium content” about that player via the NikeConnect app. That premium content includes things such as “pregame arrival footage,” highlight reels, music playlists from players, and more. Just so everything comes full circle, the jerseys can unlock boosts for players in NBA 2K18.”
Why It’s Hot:
Everything is now a platform. With AR, NFC, and QR truly becoming mainstream, and mixed reality and AI presumably not long behind them, we’re interacting with things in a whole new way. This is a relatively light example – less utility, more entertainment – but it shows how technology is integrating into everything to provide a new layer of experience to even the clothes we wear.
As one of the greatest to ever play the game, and perhaps one of the most polarizing figures in sports today, Lebron James’s has seen his share of ups and downs since he joined the NBA in 2003. But there’s no arguing that James has carefully crafted his Brand. At times powerfully emotional – at times wholly contrived – James harnesses his branded partnerships and massive media leverage to tell his story and sell product while he’s at it. Because that’s exactly what a superstar player like James does off the court– he constructs and carefully manages his image. Through media and brand partnerships over the years, James has established himself as one of the most iconic figures in advertising– most notably through his work with Nike.
Watching James’s career through the lens of his ads shows us the story arc of his own personal brand strategy come to life. Juxtaposing James’s Nike spots during his stint in Miami with those that followed once he returned as the Prodigal Son of Cleveland make for an uneasy character study; The Ringer’s Jason Concepcion cynically muses of the spots, “Authenticity is a valuable commodity that can be replicated as necessary”. Yet if this tells us anything as marketers, it’s that strong brands are resilient, despite losses, missteps, and change.
IBM and the U.S. Open teamed up together for last year’s summer tournament to bring an interesting twist to what is often thought of as an older sport. IBM’s data team partnered with James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem fame to translate the raw data that IBM collects during matches into listenable music. The raw data that is collected passes through an algorithm that James and his collaborators created that eventually spits out something that is pleasing to the ear. Some tweaks are then made by James and tracks are created.
Why It’s Hot:
We often hear the buzzword of Big Data being thrown around constantly but have many different ways of interpreting its definition. Some may say it’s for optimizing experiences, uncovering insights, or seeing patterns that we normally would not have been able to uncover. In this case, the data is actually used as a medium to create art with. There are tons of ways to think about and use data, this just happens to be one of the more creative and sonically appealing.
Television, the long-dominant medium for sports consumption, is quickly losing ground as audiences everywhere turn to computers, phones, tablets and streaming set-top boxes to watch their favorite games online. These digital platforms are winning the battle for audience attention by providing the kind of flexibility and control that consumers can’t get from standard cable contracts. For example, if you live in New York but root for a team in Chicago, in all likelihood you can’t consistently watch your team’s games on TV. Online streaming solves the problem wherever there’s an Internet connection.
Why It’s Hot
These advantages are already driving impressive audience growth in the digital space. According to Adobe Digital Index (ADI), the average consumer viewed 4.2 authenticated sports videos per month in Q3 2014, a healthy 10.5 percent increase year-over-year. Furthermore, audiences will soon to be able to stream ESPN and other channels that broadcast sports, such as TNT and TBS, for as little as $20 per month on emerging Web-TV services. Cord cutting even
took a chunk out of TV ratings from the Big Game this past Sunday. NBC reported that a peak of 1.3 million people streamed the broadcast concurrently, a record for a championship game.
Marketers may consider reaching fans more efficiently with a less expensive, multi-channel digital campaign that can be both targeted and measured than moving forward with a seven-figure TV ad. There is potential for brand lift, as ADI explains, online viewers see 66 percent more ads per video when watching sports content than they do when watching non-sports content.
The digital space will also have a huge impact on how major North American sports leagues compete for international attention. While leagues, sponsors and sports networks won’t be able to easily reach audiences abroad via TV, the barriers to entry online are so much lower. According to ADI, the major basketball, football and baseball leagues have already generated respectable social buzz outside of the United States. This should continue to increase as steaming services and other digital options give fans access to games from remote locations.
This information shows how much the playing field has shifted for sports media in recent years, and how much potential there is to keep evolving. Just as radio broadcasts gave way to TV, it’s clear sports consumption has entered a new, digital era.
The WSJ’s “The Count” asked Facebook to compile a list of the most-liked sports in each state when compared with the sport’s own national average. The “big four” North American sports — football, hockey, basketball and baseball —dominated much of the country, so they asked Facebook to run the list again with those four sports being exempt.
Why It’s Hot
Many of the results are what you would expect based on regional popularity, like skiing is popular in the 11 states across the mountain ranges of the East and the Rockies in the West. But also finding out that volleyball captured 11 states, and softball is popular in the Midwest and South (10 states) is more surprising. This data may show regional trends and also offers marketing opportunities on Facebook and other social media. Advertisers can engage the tennis lovers in Georgia or the bowling fanatics in Michigan with unique messaging targeted to these audiences. These may be minor sports, but advertisers can hit home runs by reaching out to their fan base, getting their attention, and initiating dialogue.
Ralph Lauren unveiled a high-performance Polo Tech shirt at the start of the 2014 U.S. Open. The Polo Tech shirt merges biometrics into active lifestyle apparel, marking a revolution in advanced technology designed to improve general wellness and increase personal fitness. The shirt features sensors knitted into the core of the product to read biological and physiological information. The data collected by the shirt is stored by a “black box,” which includes an accelerometer and gyroscope, which capture movement and direction. That ”black box” transmits the data into the cloud, where it is plugged into a number of algorithms that gauge important performance-oriented biometrics, including heartbeat and respiration, as well as some psychometrics such as stress level and energy output.
Why It’s Hot:
Our vision is that this will transcend sports to help us at every age and in every aspect of life. Reaching far beyond just the needs of elite athletes, Polo Tech will offer innovative technology for all ages and lifestyles to promote general wellness and quality of life.” David Lauren Senior Vice President of Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations
As wearable technology continues to emerge as a hot trend moving forward, many more luxury brands will be jumping for a chance to take a slice of the pie. Ralph Lauren is getting ahead of the game by creating a useful garment to appeal to the affluent tennis/golf/fitness audience that the brand tends to attract.
Gatorade just launched a handful of videos that feature normal people going into a gas station convenience store, and trying to buy Gatorade. The clerk then denies them their purchase because they didn’t break a sweat… they have to sweat it to get it. From there, famous athletes come out and surprise the people.
Why It’s Hot
The videos have cumulatively gained hundreds of thousands of views, and hundreds of comments in a matter of four days. Whether people think the idea of trying to attract a smaller audience- athletes- is smart, people are talking about it. Any PR is good PR, right?
This summer Nike launched the Risk Everything campaign as well as The Phenomenal Shot (with Google). The two campaigns are extremely interesting because they juxtapose the usage of technology in sports. The Risk Everything commercial “The Last Game” shows a … Continue reading →
The National Basketball Association has held a Dr. J-like grip on the No. 1 ranking in the weekly Adweek/Shareablee Instagram video charts since the pro league’s playoffs got into full stride last month. It would be easy to say the dominance is all about LeBron James—his fans and haters who seemingly cannot get enough of the best player in the world.
But the NBA’s social media staffers deserve a lot more credit than that, routinely finding creative ways to post 15-second clips that generate huge engagement. For instance, one week, it was a series of stills that showed the trendy/preppy duds being worn by James, Kevin Durant, Paul Pierce, Russell Westbrook, etc., as they strutted their stuff before and after their playoff games. No highlight reels needed.
Most recently, the NBA won Instagram with a social video showing the Miami Heat’s Mike Miller running the court and nailing a three-point shot in a Finals game versus the San Antonio Spurs. The catch: The basketball journeyman was only wearing one shoe—and the #FlashBack clip was from last year’s Finals against the Spurs. In terms of repurposing creative, that’s a slam dunk.
Why it’s hot:
Interesting way to generate content around the event. Sometimes unusual and unknown activities around an event (pre/post) provides the audience with a moment of “discovery” to fuel their immersive experience.
Outdoor gear and apparel retailer The North Face continues to see strong results from its use of natural language and voice-enabled search, helping its sites across mobile and desktop in several European counties to deliver a 35 percent increase in search conversion rate and 24 percent increase in revenue from search.
EasyAsk has been deployed across 11 sites in nine countries, including Britain, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, France, Italy, Spain and Austria. As a result, visitors to these sites can use specific terms for what they are looking for in their local language as opposed to using traditional keyword search.
Voice-enabled on-site search makes sense on mobile because users are familiar with speaking into their smartphones. The problem is still accuracy–I keep getting “pizza places” recommendations from Siri, whenever I search for Dry Cleaners…
For on-the-go users who may be trying to find something quickly, natural language search means they can quickly and easily find what they are looking for without having to use a general keyword and then have to scroll through a lot of unrelated results.–I get it for public restrooms: bit how urgent is your need for a new “warm winter jacket”?