True Story: Sports Remains At Apex Of Passion Marketing

Sometimes the best illustration of sports’ power to create unique connections with fans happens organically. In the July Media Post Marketing Sports, SLRG’s Jon Last reflects on how he was recently witness to such an example

It’s no surprise that 61 of the top 100 prime-time broadcasts in the past year were sports-related.  Our research continues to show how, in an increasingly polarized society,  sports not only offers a needed escape, but also brings people together around a common passion point.  That’s why we continue to see wildly escalating rights fees and heightened interest among nontraditional digital brands to obtain streaming rights to deliver these marquee events.  Sports remains unmatched as a marketing lever.

We are frequently tasked with quantifying the ability of sports marketing activation to create unique connections with fans.  Time and again we prove the common hypothesis that sports can forge a commitment level unparalleled elsewhere. But sometimes the best illustration of that principle happens organically.  I was witness to such an example just a few weeks ago.

On June 16, I was enroute from New York to Boston to meet my colleagues. This was also the day that the Golden State Warriors were in Boston, seeking to win the NBA Championship.  This was a day that saw significant disruption to commercial air travel, and what was originally scheduled to be an early morning quick flight turned into numerous delays.  It wasn’t until 3:45pm that our rescheduled flight left the gate.  After sitting on the tarmac until 5 p.m., we learned that we would be returning to the terminal, as no air traffic was moving in and out of Logan.

As one can imagine, several on our flight were reassessing their plans.  I had already informed my staff to proceed with project preparations without me, though I remained determined to get there.

Among our band of travelers, just a couple of rows behind me, were a father and son from the San Francisco Bay area.  They were clad in Warriors attire, and had made it known to all of us in earshot that they were headed to TD Garden to hopefully make the tip-off and watch their team clinch the NBA title.

As it became more apparent we weren’t getting anywhere quickly, it was easy to overhear everyone adjusting and mostly cancelling their plans.  The exception was our Warrior fans.  They proceeded to research and book a private helicopter to get them as close to Logan as they could.  Nothing was going to deter their unadulterated pursuit of being present for a special moment together, facilitated through a passion for sports. I decided to chip in and hitch the helicopter ride with them.

The ensuing couple of hours was a vivid illustration of so much of what we’ve learned over the years about the unique and powerful vehicle that sports can be for marketers.  And yes, my new friends made it to the game — and got to celebrate a championship.