Thinking ‘Outside The Box’

How are sponsors in football & sport tackling audience engagement challenges through COVID 

With Covid-19 bringing a halt to life as we knew it, the world of sport really suffered. Sporting events had to be postponed to ensure safety for it’s participants and it’s consumers, the fans. Events were then allowed to go ahead, albeit under strict Covid protocol, resulting in matches being played behind closed doors. 

With fans not allowed in stadiums, organisations throughout sport have had to use their initiatives and “think outside the box” in order to keep their fans engaged and entertained.

Podcasts have seen a surge throughout the multiple lockdowns with sports clubs using them as a platform to keep fans involved with the clubs activity. One that springs to mind is the Leeds United Podcast with Patrick Bamford, ex-player Jermaine Beckford, LUTV Host Emma Jones and famous Leeds United fan and actor, Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom). The Podcast has been a great success and will no doubt continue post-Covid.

Footballers also took it upon themselves to engage with their fans via social media with challenges such as the kick ups challenge with a toilet roll, giveaways with match worn shirts & boots and Q&A’s with fans posting their questions via Instagram story boxes. 

Budweiser also became a talking point during lockdown for their fantastic campaign with Lionel Messi.

To celebrate Lionel Messi breaking Pele’s record for the most goals scored for one club, Budweiser sent out bottles of their beer (644 bottles to be precise) to each of the Goalkeepers that Lionel Messi has scored against whilst playing for Barcelona. One unfortunate goalkeeper, Diego Alves, was sent 21 bottles of Budweiser each with a number on corresponding to the goal on Messi’s tally. Not only did the campaign celebrate a great achievement that every football fan can recognize, but it also gave fans something to talk about that wasn’t COVID related.

From Podcasts to PR stunts, the ideas coming from the sports industry are a lesson to everyone showing that well thought out campaigns can ensure audience engagement doesn’t stop just because you cannot physically connect with your consumers and fans.