How Iconic Brands Deliver True Fan Engagement
Matt Sych from Team Epic shared a variety of insights on sports sponsorshing, emerging trends like virtual reality and the value of long-standing brand relationships. Matt is a Manager- Sponsorship Consulting for Team Epic, where he helps iconic brands partner and activate with the biggest sports and entertainment properties.
Describe your current role at Team Epic?
As a Manager in the Consulting group, my job is to help Team Epic clients develop, execute and measure their sponsorship and lifestyle marketing strategies.
Why do brands and businesses choose to work with Team Epic?
Our CEO always says, “an agency can’t only be measured by the company you keep, but also by how long you keep the company”, and we’re proud to have long-standing relationships with some of the biggest blue-chip clients in the industry. FedEx, IBM, and AT&T have been with us for over 15 years. I’d like to think that’s because of our depth and breadth of expertise, holistic approach to measurement, and track record of bringing integrated partnerships to life…but some of it might be all the candy we give out (courtesy of our Mars client).
What sponsorship assets are most sought after by clients?
“Traditional” sponsorship assets like signage, tickets and IP rights have their place, but what brands really want are unique and ownable platforms that allow them to create compelling content and build a meaningful connection with fans, in a way that is authentic to the brand. A lot of companies will negotiate for generic sponsorship assets and develop an activation plan after the deal is signed. We encourage our clients to do the opposite. Not only does this result in a more authentic connection between the brand and the property (we refer to this as a “reason for being”), but the overall asset mix is better optimized to meet both parties’ objectives.
Sponsorship is incredibly multifaceted and every client has different objectives, so any measurement strategy need to be highly customized. With that said, two general principles come to mind:
First is that brands should be looking at both valuation (ROI) and evaluation (ROO) when measuring the impact of their sponsorships. While these disciplines are inherently linked, they don’t always tell the full story on their own. Second is that measurement doesn’t need to be a linear process. Most brands will do a pre/post report, but that doesn’t allow for any mid-program adjustments. An effective measurement plan will give you insights into ‘why’ something is or isn’t occurring. Then you can make changes, optimize, and repeat.
Can you describe one of your more unique sponsor activations of the past few years?
One of my personal favorite activations was the AT&T/EA Sports “More Than a Vote Challenge”. As the presenting sponsor of the annual Major League Soccer All-Star Game fan vote, our client AT&T challenged us to see how we could generate fan engagement beyond the traditional online voting system.
The result was a collaboration with fellow MLS partner EA Sports to develop a program where fans could ‘vote’ for their favorite player by scoring goals with him in the new FIFA video game. In addition to generating some great PR buzz for being the first professional sports league to choose a member of the All-Star team through a video game, fan engagement with the AT&T MLS All-Star voting platform increased well over 500%.
What emerging media/advertising technologies have caught your eye? Where do you see this going?
Last week I had an opportunity to test out the HTC Vive virtual reality system and it really blew me away. I’ve tried Google Cardboard and Samsung VR, but I had no idea the technology has increased to the point where you can pick up virtual objects and essentially “feel” their weight. As for the media/advertising implications of VR – I think it will have a profound impact, particularly on experiential marketers. The opportunity to provide consumers with a truly immersive 1:1 brand ‘experience’ was previously limited to the physical world. As the technology becomes more mainstream and more affordable, the creative possibilities seem endless.
Brands that win in sponsorship marketing are ones that…
**…develop an authentic, fan-centric “reason for being”. **