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Moment Marketing in Live Sport: What Can We Learn?

The very ‘live’ and unpredictable nature of live televised sports makes it the perfect opportunity for savvy marketers to capture the public mood and imagination with a well-timed and creative reaction to something that has happened on screen. The viral potential of moment marketing is huge if it’s done well, although the risk of disaster is also large if there are any errors of judgement taken in the narrow gap between planning and implementation. So what lessons can be learned from moment marketing in live sport?

This was done most famously during the 2013 Super Bowl when a power cut stopped play for over half an hour. For an event which sees huge ad spend and requires very careful marketing planning, this was potentially a disaster. But instead, the way some responded to the situation remains memorable more than most of what actually happened in the game itself. The team responsible for Oreo’s social media were the big winners for their tweet ‘Power out? No problem. You can still dunk in the dark.’

Because it was the Super Bowl, Oreo was well-placed to respond quickly to the change in situation, with 15 members of staff from digital marketing agency 360i working on social media, ready to react to the game itself and its result with themed posts for whichever team won, etc. This meant that when the lights went out, Oreo could take full advantage. “The new world order of communications today incorporates the whole of the way people are interacting with brands right now,” Sarah Hofstetter, president of 360i told Wired. “Once the blackout happened, no one was distracted — there was nothing going on. The combination of speed and cultural relevance propelled it to the forefront.”

The result Oreo got from its speedy and effective reaction was over 15,000 retweets on Twitter and more than 20,000 likes on Facebook. Other brands that got in on the #blackout action included detergent brand Tide, Calvin Klein, Duracell and Audi, who delighted in making a joke at the expense of rivals Mercedes Benz, who sponsored the stadium where the power failure had taken place. These messages didn’t make the impact of the Oreo one, but all showed that the brands were ready to react quickly.

So the lesson is clear from these examples – brands need to be prepared and have adequate resources available, particularly for sporting events like the Super Bowl, The FA Cup Final, Champions League Final, the World Cup (Snickers managed a memorable joke at the expense of Luis Suarez at the last World Cup, earning over 40,000 retweets), the Olympics, etc, where the audiences will be enormous and the potential to capture a zeitgeist moment will be equally huge. But being prepared means more than just having the resource available to react, it also means requiring the understanding of consumer behaviour and the technological expertise to utilise programmatic advertising to its full potential.

Some of the best examples of moment marketing around live sports come from online betting companies, like Bet365, whose Ray Winstone-fronted adverts have been prominently shown on TV around live football. While the content from Winstone is generic, the offers shown in the ads are topical for the game being shown and change depending on the score. These ads also run on football websites and, along with those from other betting firms (usually based on deals with individual clubs) are displayed on electronic advertising boards by the side of pitches, earning great exposure throughout the game and changing to fit the events of the game.

This real-time advertising and marketing has to be well planned in advance as well as being responsive to changes, and using platforms like Google Adwords to ensure that online ads are run in sync with TV ones. It’s an exact science in that respect, but when moment marketing is done well, it needs to look seamless and effortless, because the audience doesn’t want to be thinking about advertising or marketing while they’re watching sport, it needs to be an enhancement to the experience, whether it’s in an advert break or something they see on their phones or tablets.

If the research is done, the data is crunched and the right team is assembled, brands have a lot to gain in exposure from moment marketing around live sport, and as long as the content, message and tone are all  appropriate to the sport itself, there’s far fewer pitfalls than trying to use these tactics around news stories or extreme weather conditions. This gives brands more freedom to experiment and take risks that could pay off with tens of thousands of retweets or likes, sharing that brand with enormous audiences.

What are your thoughts on moment marketing in live sports? Have you got any other great examples of how this has been done? Get in touch with us on social media and let us know your thoughts on this matter.

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