Sports Entertainment Summit II: Sports and Brands

By Steve Harvey

The recession has impacted relationships between brands and properties, creating higher expectations and requiring greater accountability. As the Sports and Brands panel discussion highlighted, those changes in partnership dynamics have also driven innovation.

AEG recently announced a $700 million naming rights agreement for Farmers Field, a proposed stadium in downtown L.A. that is still in the planning stage and has no resident NFL team lined up. Talk about innovative. When the recession arrived, “We tended to get a little better at what we were doing than in the past,” said Todd Goldstein of AEG, with some understatement.

According to recent analysis, said brand consultant Anne Rivers of Young & Rubicam, “The brands that have named stadiums get a pickup in their firm value, in what Wall Street thinks of that brand.” Farmers Insurance can already show some ROI from the recent media exposure, Goldstein commented — and they haven’t paid anything yet.

Interaction with fans on social media needs to be organic and authentic. But marketers are still feeling their way with the new platforms. According to the WWE’s Eddie Hill, “I don’t think anyone’s figured it out quite yet.”

Andrew Kritzer of Sharp Electronics observed that there are now additional avenues to consider when allocating media dollars with the recent appearance of social media. Asked who is doing it right or wrong, he responded, “It’s such a new technology; it’s evolving even as we speak.”

Some of that new technology has fostered partnership opportunities. Blain Skinner of the L.A. Lakers organization reported that, for example, Verizon customers arriving early to a game can send texts to the scoreboard. During the Vancouver Olympics, Visa used social media to fine-tune its campaign in real time, offered lawyer Chris Brearton, of O’Melveny Meyers.

“Let the reins go and let people have your brand,” advocated Hill. Every fan is part of the brand, and can become a brand evangelist via social media. “That’s far more powerful than any ad we could create or buy.”

Click here for SVG’s comprehensive coverage of the Sports Entertainment Summit II.

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