The COVID-19 crisis is working its way into every corner of the globe and has forced billions of people into some form of lockdown. For any business this is an extremely challenging time financially; and with even greater stress given the uncertainty of its time frame. Rather now is not the time to bury our heads in the sand and simply wait until the crisis is over: now is the time to find proactive and creative ways to keep business alive.
Now that all sporting events have come to a grinding halt, it is important for individual brands and businesses alike to stay as connected to their fan base as possible. The most successful have two key ways of remaining relevant and informative during this period of uncertainty. Firstly, with 78% of people believing that brands should help them with their daily lives (Kantar 2020) it is important to address the primary concerns. Secondly, it is important to provide engaging content, with a 412% increase in indexed search volumes for “home activities" .
With this in mind, here is a list of organisations in the industry – brands and rights holders – that I believe are doing a fantastic job of adapting to this rapidly changing socio-economic environment:
1) The FA - #FootballsStayingHome
With its mass fan base, theFootball Association’s “Football’s Staying Home” campaign is a great example of the type of response required in a time like this. This digital campaign is aimed at providing entertainment and a sense of togetherness with the hashtag#FootballsStayingHome throughout this period of social isolation.
It’s “watch, play, learn”platform releases daily content with the focus of supporting health and wellbeing. For example, at home workouts, mental health support groups and educational resources, it aims to engage individuals of all ages and abilities in positive stimulation. A simple responsible message couple with valuable content to a large audience. Well played the FA.
2) Joe Wicks – PE lessons
Joe Wicks’ brand is well suited to the current climate. ‘At home’ workout videos have boomed over the past few weeks with influencers from all over the world keen to give their spin on fitness in the home.
As well as providing engaging content, Joe has used his brand to combat one of the biggest problems faced by parents at the moment, keeping their kids active in their enforced sedentary world. Joe has used his social media platform, especially YouTube, to broadcast his PE lessons to over two million of his subscribers and while doing so has accumulated a significant amount of advertising revenue. This not only allows him to profit through engagement and awareness but has also allowed him to donate £80,810 to the NHS so far, as he promises “All of the money is going to the NHS”.
This easy to access digital content and positive message coupled with the charitable angle has shown Joe’s awareness of public feeling in this current climate and will potentially allow him to gain popularity in the long run.
3) Formula 1- Virtual Grand Prix
Formula 1 has given its fans the opportunity to watch virtual F1 races to combat the boredom of coronavirus. TheF1 Grand Prix has opened its track to special guests, with the likes of cricketerBen Stokes, who will compete with world-renowned racers on its 2019 F1 video game, to provide engaging content for their viewers. To construct a competitive race to watch, it uses a wide variety of gaming skill levels and game settings which can be configured to encourage an entertain in grace in an attempt to engage with a bigger audience. This, along with its social media slogans like #RaceAtHome, encourages fans of others sports to join in and watch.
This has provided F1 with a great opportunity to engage with new, younger viewers and prospectively support the growth of the sport in the future. “Esport races are about reaching out to a younger, digitally savvy audience” (Julian Tan, Head of Digital BusinessInitiatives & Esports at Formula 1).
4) NBA – NBA 2K Players Tournament
The NBA has teamed up with 2K, a video game publisher, and the National Basketball Players Association to provide fans with the opportunity to remain connected to the game. Their campaign involves sixteen current NBA players competing in a video game tournament, with the winner choosing the charity to receive a $100,000 donation from 2K. The tournament runs over 16 matches and features the biggest named athletes in the NBA. Each match is streamed live with catch-up available on its platforms including ESPN, YouTube and NBA’s official Twitch channel. This campaign allows fans to easily watch its content over a long period of time to stay connected to the sport they love.
5) The Virtual Grand National
With all horse racing in GreatBritain being postponed until at least the end of April, the Grand National lined up forty of its most likely runners to take part in a stimulated-race using CGI technology and special algorithms. The event proved to be a virtual epic, totalling 4.8 million views on ITV. However, the real victory lies in the amount of money raised for the NHS: the race enabled mainstream bookmakers to offer the winnings of viewers bets to one of140 NHS charities. These profits resulted in £2.6 million worth of donations for the NHS, proving that rights holders can profit themselves in these times as well as raising money for a vitally important cause.
These are all great examples of sports staying relevant in a time of inactivity. The key themes to come out of these successful initiatives are as follows:
· Relevance to public need – staying healthy, informed or entertained
· Digital approach – reaching large audiences remotely
· Purpose led – charitable commitments for the greater good of society
· Creativity – utilising virtual environments to replace live content
· Authenticity – creating unique campaigns that truly resonate