Kudos to Major League Soccer and it’s teams for utilizing a very smart but simple tactic to help promote engagement and interaction with their players. Teams such as the LA Galaxy and Chicago Fire list their players with twitter accounts right on the team’s official twitter pages. (Click picture below for examples). Every team in the MLS, as well as all other leagues not in a lockout, should follow suit and employ this tactic to build a following and interest in their own players.
Deron Williams of the New Jersey Nets is reportedly planning to play in Turkey if the NBA lockout is not settled by the Fall. Other notable players entertaining the idea of playing in Europe include the Atlanta Hawks’ Zaza Pachulia, Kobe Bryant, and the Knicks duo of Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire. The idea of NBA players playing in Europe has been debated and dissected by numerous TV shows, radio shows, and analysts across the industry with every concern cited from safety to ability to adapt.
Thinking with the sponsorship hat on, I believe it would be advantageous for stars of the NBA to compete in Europe from a business standpoint. Players would be able to showcase their personal brand, and the Nike’s and Reebok’s of the world would be able to leverage their high-profile athletes in a brand new global setting.
[As an aside, consider this a tip of the cap to WNBA. While most are compelled to compete abroad for financial reasons, one has to admire their willingness to put it all on the line. As of March 2011, 92 players from all 12 teams are competing in a dozen countries all over the world. See the full map where all WNBA players are competing here.]
McDonald’s created a brilliant billboard in the city of Stockholm, Sweden. This “Pick ‘n’ Play” campaign was experimental but returned huge results for the company.
As you see in the video, users connect with the billboard using their smartphone, without having to download additional software (big perk!) The user is prompted to pick their favorite McDonald’s snack to begin, and then play a game of pong on the billboard using their smartphone to control their paddle. If the user wins the game, a coupon for a free snack that they chose is sent straight to their phone.
Team executives would be wise to follow this excellent interactive marketing strategy and apply the concept to their home stadiums. Those tailgating or entering the stadium would gladly participate and play the game on the billboard, especially if they could get something for free out of it. Team sponsors can creatively integrate their product or service into the game, and teams would have the option to rotate every game or series to maximize their partnerships and revenue opportunities.
Foursquare and American Express announced a deal today wherein rewards and incentives will get even better. Users will be able to sync their Foursquare and AmEx accounts where they will receive exclusive discounts and saving at specified locations. For example, shoppers who check in on Foursquare at H&M will recieve a $10 credit to their AmEx account when they spend $75. If you spend $50 at Sports Authority, you will receive a $20 reward. This partnership has great potential and has already created a buzz after an initial test at SXSW back in March involving a “spend $5, get $5” deal.
If used properly, this type of partnership could have big implications on professional sports teams and their use of location-based apps such as Foursquare, Gowalla, or Whrrl. After a proper sync with a team and/or league, there are many possibilities to leverage this type of relationship.
- Season-Ticket holders receiving credits to an account for every check-in at the game, redeemable at the game or for future ticket purchases with the team (and who wouldn’t want to be the ‘mayor’ of Yankee Stadium?)
- “Booth of the night” – One sponsor/vendor’s booth is pre-determined by the team each game, and the first fan to check-in at said booth wins credit to store and a shout-out with sponsor on stadium scoreboard (Ex: $25 to Jimmy’s BBQ.)
Out of Stadium
- Every fan check-in at a team’s sponsor leads to money redeemable at the stadium (Ex: St.Louis Rams fan checks in at U.S. Bank, receives $10 to spend at Edward Jones Dome.)
- Every fan check-in at a league’s sponsor will allow them to receive cash back if they pay with league’s credit card (Ex: NFL-Visa, NBA-American Express, MLB-Mastercard.)
This American Express/Foursquare is only the tip of the iceberg, but I think it is safe to assume that location-based apps are here to stay, and it will be exciting to see how they can be integrated into sports business.