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Brand Strategy   |   Marketing Communications


Big Event Marketing: Big Restrictions. Little Loopholes.

Big Event Marketing: Big Restrictions. Small Loopholes.

4 Brand Building Ways to Leverage Big Events Without Breaking The Rules

I love the Olympics and I love the Super Bowl but, as a marketer, I hate the strict intellectual property rules that come along with both – the rules that cause us to create ads and promotions around “The Big Game” or “The Big Event” or “The Games” or “The Worldwide Sporting Phenomena that Occurs Once Every Four Years”.

I get it. These are billion dollar enterprises (approximately $50 Billion was spent on the Rio Games alone) and a lot of money is to be made in Brazil and globally through television deals, sponsorships and advertising. While the event host entities won’t likely make a profit from the actual attendees of these events, everybody profits from ancillary, downstream marketing activity.

So, why can’t your Acme Mid-Sized Corporation reap the same rewards as the Coke, Samsung, Toyota, McDonalds and Visas of the world? Well, you actually can.

As a small or medium sized business – that can’t afford sponsorship rights – you can take advantage of these events while avoiding getting sued for merely uttering “Super Bowl 50”. The great equalizer = social media!

Here are 4 thought starters:

  1. Be present. Develop content on the fly during the games/events most talked about moments.
    • The simplest and easiest way is to be a participant in the conversation(s), via your social media strategy. Commenting on live events and capitalizing on already existing #hashtags, making them relevant to your business or service, can increase brand equity, allow you to have fun with your brand (or product) and show that you’re a fan along with millions of others.
    • Here are some great examples of things that have worked (over the years) – and things that didn’t work too well.
  2. Create your own event hashtag as part of your Social Media Marketing Strategy.
    • A great way to separate your brand or product from the millions of people using the customary #Superbowl hashtag is to create and seed unique brand or product hashtags prior to the event and then use them consistently throughout the event.
    • Here are some brands that have done it right.
  3. Increase your Brand Equity by focusing on patriotism.
    • This is particularly applicable with international events, like the Olympics, but can also be used as a way to root for the home team. Think about changing your logo or social media profile shots for a limited time or use hashtags specific to your team or country to illustrate that you’re part of the fandom.
    • This amazing example from Panasonic UK might give you ideas on how to apply patriotism or home teamism to your brand or product.
  4. Use themes related to fandom and athletes.
    • Ford’s campaign for its 2017 Ford Escape SUV “We are All Fans”included Snapchat posts that didn’t use banned terminology but still allude to the Olympics. They also used everyday, next-door-neighbor athletes instead of shelling out millions for the pros. Ford’s a big brand but they accomplished and created this impressive campaign in an organic and inexpensive way – proving that all brands can be creative and relevant even when not a sponsor.
    • See the Ford campaign here.

While there’s a bit of a nod and wink that goes along with the current spate of pseudonym-named promotions that small and big businesses put forth, there are creative and compelling ways to get around the constraints of not having millions of dollars for usage. Consumers, for the most part, get it… But wouldn’t it be great if we all got a little creative, stopped with the lazy “The Big Game Contest” and instead engaged our audiences with compelling and fun ideas? After all #WeAreAllFans.

Daniel Getachew, VP/Group Account DirectorDaniel Getachew, VP/Group Account Director

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