By Thomas Hobbs | Journalist

January 31, 2020 | 3 min read

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The Drum and IBM’s ‘The Innovation Game’ conference saw top marketers from the likes of Liverpool Football Club, Activision Blizzard, Nationwide and Audi discuss what brands can learn from how sports teams treat their fans, especially when it comes to generating loyalty, and also what the future of sport sponsorship might look like.

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IBM’s Debbie Vavangas’ shared admiration for football clubs that take on constructive criticism from fans

“You need to find a way for your brand to enhance a sport fan’s enjoyment of a live match or your presence there will just annoy them,” advised Kate Moore, senior sponsorship manager at Diageo.

“In e-sports we see fans who are very engaged with the brands who advertise at all of the events because they help legitimise it as a sport,” added Greg Carroll, global head of sales at Activision Blizzard Media, as he tried to explain why brands should take e-sports more seriously as a long-term advertising investment.

Other highlights included IBM’s global garage lead and VP Debbie Vavangas’ admiration for football clubs that take on constructive criticism from their fans. “For consumers to turn into fans you have to show them that you are really listening and applying their advice to improve something. You need a thick skin.”

And also Audi’s head of digital Antony Roberts’ admission that the car giant still has some work to do if it’s to properly connect with some of its most loyal fans. “You need to look at it in tiers,” he explained. “You have the drivers who are just about happy and the ones who might ramp up into mega fandom. I guess we need to find a way to reward both of those groups uniquely, and find different languages to communicate to them in.”

You can watch the full video above.

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