By: Arin Segal, @arinsegal
When you graduate from college as I did in June, lots of time suddenly becomes available. The past year, I have progressively added more and more newsletters to my database and books to my shelf. Something I noticed with all of this reading? The incredible opportunity for interactive sponsorship activations. Signs are becoming digital, fans are spending incredible periods of time on phones and the experience of an event is expected to be immersive.
Tech is an incredibly hot space across the board, from VR to mobile apps and wearables to analytics. But how do you authentically incorporate tech into a sponsorship to make it catch someone’s eye without distracting from the event? Well, it isn’t easy and there are plenty of failures, but there are also plenty of successes.
Let’s walk through an example of a way tech could create an incredible experience AND leave fans with a keepsake to take home. You walk into the NHL All-Star Game and are handed a small canvas bracelet that has LED lights inside. On top of it is a battery box with the logo of the All-Star Game and all of the bands come in a mixture of colors to represent different teams in the league. On that canvas band are logos for one of the title sponsors of the event who want to activate, giving the sponsor immediate activation just from people wearing these wristbands. As fans trickle in, seats are filled and it is time for pregame moments like the national anthem to occur. Lights go down and as the flag is on the ice, a digital flag appears through the rink as wristbands light up based on location (small sensors lie within each section sending signals). The crowd is immediately in awe, looking down at their wristband or fishing it out of the jacket pocket that they stuffed it into. Then other moments happen with fans becoming part of the light show.
The game begins and fans think that was all the wristbands would do, but wait there is more! Each time a goal is scored the bands light up in the color of the goal scorer’s team. We make it to intermission and as a band takes the ice for a short performance, the wristbands are suddenly active again with lighting to match the music. As the game ends and fans exit the area, their wristbands stay lit in the winning team’s colors all the way to the parking lot.
Sure, the sponsor of those bands probably has some other signage around the area, but what they have just created is a memory that fans will take with them. So who did this? Well there are two companies I have read a lot about, PixMob and Xylobands who have brought their technology to various sporting and entertainment events. Arsenal, for example, used Xylobands at an event with Puma to launch their new kit design and the bands had been branded with the Arsenal and Puma logos.
The key lesson, here, is that when you think about creating a sponsorship asset for your next event, go beyond just the simple signs that will get sold anyways and look to create a few additional experiences that involve a brand partner AND make the event even more unique. It may not always work in terms of expected ROI, but you can guarantee that a stadium full of lights will instantly become Instagram and Snapchat material.