Participative Sports—Why Every Marketer Should Take Notice Before It’s Too Late

Akriti AroraEvent Management

“If you’re a good marketing person, you have to be a little crazy.” – Jim Metcalf

There is no bigger catalyst to brands creating an emotive connect with their target audiences than sports. We can take any sport as instance-cricket, football, basketball, ice hockey- and we will find truth in this.

The reason is also fairly obvious. We connect with sports at a very primal level. It brings out the raw instincts that hardly surface elsewhere. For example, it is not unusual to find people we know to be calm and collected, becoming completely animated when their team is playing on TV; while sports rivalries in colleges, corporates, and clubs, transcend beyond the sport itself to take a life of its own.

Wherever you think of sport, passion automatically follows. It is no wonder then, that sports properties command a premium when it comes to ad revenues. Wimbledon, 7 Nations Rugby, Tour de France to name a few, are online and offline crowd pullers and brands are right up there trying to catch the attention and loyalty of the audience.

In the past few years, however, there has been quite an interesting trend that has made marketers like me sit up and take notice. Across the world, the desire to be fitter and healthier has been on an unprecedented rise. Our social media posts have become more about stories of personal fitness journeys and sporting achievements. It is safe to assume, that people are no longer as satisfied with watching sport, as they are when they participate in one. They like to celebrate their own victories; become their own heroes.

Six years ago, to give regular folks like ourselves, a platform to celebrate their successes, I launched Volano Entertainment, a company that would create, conceptualise, and execute disruptive participative sporting events- a format of sports that would need no training like in cricket or tennis, and a platform that would allow working professionals and amateur athletes to showcase their prowess and compete with their peers.

The result was not only emotionally gratifying but hugely successful as a business model. Today, we are able to create stories of these amazing individuals and promote these to the world at large!

This is a very exciting time for entrepreneurs to turn to participative sports. As for marketers, this is the sweet spot where the rubber meets the road. The brand integration possibility in the context of experiential marketing is huge, allowing for a far better recall and connect than the traditional media options. The reason is simple. When you bring home a memory attached to a sporting event and the brands associated with it, you recall them with a lot of positivity and fondness.

This is where smarter marketers are capturing their ROI—their consumers are experiencing their brand or its attributes at sports events, where the organic engagement is high; they need only present themselves in a manner that seamlessly integrates with the sporting property. Back home, when the consumer makes decisions relating to big investments such as buying a luxury car, no prizes for guessing the first brand they have on their mind! This translates online as well, when brands are able to build not just followers but communities and evangelists.

The success of the IronMan Franchise, Spartan Races, Global Marquee marathon races like Boston, New York, Berlin, and closer home, our very own Maruti Suzuki Arena Devils Circuit, validates this reality that we live in… the future is bright; the future is participative.

This blog was originally posted by Adnan Adeeb on LinkedIn.