Marketing Brand Strategy Cannes Lions

How marketers can fuel the endless season of fandom

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By Max Simpson | Journalist

August 15, 2023 | 6 min read

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Marketers from FanDuel, 72andSunny and Braze convene to discuss what it takes to appeal to the modern sports fan.

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Braze sat down with marketers from FanDuel and 72andSunny in Cannes to explore the endless season of fandom

Sports generate the never-ending energy that remains constant within our lives - in-season, off-season, regular season, or playoffs. Moments of pure fandom are made 365 days a year. It takes consistent marketing efforts to not only match this energy but to bottle it in a way that keeps fans informed and engaged.

Sharon Panelo, senior director, strategic consulting at Braze, sat down with marketers from FanDuel and 72andSunny to explore the endless season of fandom, bringing out the best of the present and future of fan marketing.

Super Bowl spots

The Super Bowl represents a, if not the, premiere opportunity for a groundbreaking commercial spot. It can serve as an opportunity for a brand to introduce new initiatives or help fans reimagine how they can get involved.

“A lot of people think why does the NFL have a Super Bowl commercial on the Super Bowl? What do they need to advertise?” says Zach Hilder, executive creative director at 72andSunny. “And a lot of it is talking about separating the brand for the league itself. The league is the game but the brand really tries to push the game of football forward. We used the biggest stage to feature a female flag football player to really show that the future of the game is really more diverse and inclusive than we all thought.”

“FanDuel is fortunate that we get to be a part of the game,” says Andrew Sneyd, executive vice-president marketing, FanDuel. “When you’re using the genuine second-screen experience of betting on the game, you feel you’re a part of the game. We did not want to just run a traditional ad. So instead, let’s get Rob Gronkowski on board to kick a field goal live during the Super Bowl and get all of America to cheer for this fun guy who’s going to try to do something that he’s never done on a football field before. It was great to capture conversation and be a part of the culture of the game instead of just another advertiser buying time in the Super Bowl.”

Perspectives shaping experiences

As fandom becomes more dynamic than ever before, the evolution demonstrates the need for marketers to consistently update their approach to how they interact with fans. The look and feel of that updated approach may not always be a new product or service but rather reprioritizing how fans are consuming a brand in the first place.

“We see people talking about the second-screen experience for a long time,” says Sneyd. “And while people are betting, the big one on the wall becomes the second screen and you’re really engaged with what’s happening with the performance of what you’ve decided to wager on today.”

In addition to changing platforms, brands are tasked with speaking to new and emerging audiences as they come into the fold.

“The NFL really is for everyone,” says Hilder. “We’re also talking to a lot of kids. They’re not looking at the TV, they’re looking at their screen and we’ve got to think about ways to engage them. I think the NFL has done a great job with that [partnering] with Nickelodeon. They broadcast the games and now the games on Nickelodeon have slime when you score a touchdown. And it’s really great and really fun. And so you’re thinking about all these different ways that fans can interact with the game.”

Growing women’s sports

A major evolution of growing fandom is appealing to a demographic that has largely been overlooked. In today’s realm, you have women, quite literally (and metaphorically), betting on other women.

“We've seen tremendous growth just this calendar year in the WNBA,” says Sneyd. “Women’s tennis is also growing. Both female bettors and betting on female sports is a great growth driver for us right now. Lots of interest in just broader acceptance of people being interested in the game.”

“Women in sports: we’re at the forefront and I think at the precipice of what’s going to happen next,” says Hilder. It was super cool to hear about a woman’s sports bar opening up in Portland [The Sports Bra]. I love the idea that it’s a sports bar focused on female sports.”

Catch up on the full ‘The endless season of fandom, and how to fuel its fire’ panel discussion from Braze in Cannes here.

Marketing Brand Strategy Cannes Lions

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