By Thomas Hobbs, Journalist

January 14, 2020 | 3 min read

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Brands must provide excellent experiences around sport that truly add to the consumer experience or they’ll risk alienating their audience altogether.

IBM The Innovation Game

Brands must provide excellent experiences around sport that truly add to the consumer experience

This was the view of Arjoon Bose, marketing head at General Mills, who was speaking at The Drum and IBM’s The Innovation Game conference last week.

“For us the key thing with sport is what role can we play in consumers’ lives to enable a great brand experience that unifies people,” said Bose in a video for the event, which saw a panel of marketers explore the ties between sports and marketing. “Whichever sports partnership we engage in we have to ensure we don’t diminish the power of the game, but actually enhance it.”

Meanwhile, Tanya Joseph, director of campaigns at Nationwide, said her biggest takeaway from the event was learning how to differentiate between loyalty and generating fans. “I’ve learned today that the emphasis really needs to be on generating loyalty through sports partnerships,” she added. “Underpinning loyalty is trust and to build trust you must understand the consumer better by using data more effectively.”

For Liverpool Football Club’s senior VP of digital media and marketing Drew Crisp, the key is ensuring: “We serve our one billion fans with relevant content that will maintain their loyalty to us as a club.” Yet in order to produce this relevant content, a football club like Liverpool must ensure it's at the cutting edge of technology and data, according to Debbie Vavangas, global garage lead and VP, IBM.

“The consumer of the future is dependent on technology and data,” she explained. “You need to figure out a way to drive insight from enormous fields of data in order to come up with things that resolve the pain points of the consumer, and only then will they become loyal fans. Tech and data can change the game and there’s so many sporting examples, whether that’s Wimbledon or football, where that happens successfully.”

With sport being such an emotive industry, brands must draw from this emotion and try to generate passion for their own products, according to Audi’s head of digital Anthony Roberts. He concluded: “If we can tap into the passion of sports fans as marketers and as a car industry then we will get massive engagement from it. It’s such a big opportunity.”

Watch the full video from The Drum and IBM’s 'The Innovation Game' conference here.

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