I’m a sucker for a catchy sponsorship. It’s, paradoxically, a passive activation, bringing the brand to life without the consumer taking any action. A few observations from a recent Padres game broadcast on the radio reinforced the power of tying a brand to a sticky part of sports fandom. The value lies in the repeat exposure, contributing to the top-of-mind, affinity-laden association of brand with sport and brand with team. That’s music to marketing’s ears.
Sports is part of our everyday vernacular, comprising a lot of the daily conversations we have, the content we consume, and even what we think about, daydreaming about fantasy drafts on a lunch break at work. And when the heart rate gets going because you’re crossing fingers for a few insurance runs or you pump your fists for a goal during the waning seconds of the McFlurry Minute, with the goalie pulled (LA Kings in-game promotion with McDonald’s), it’s an organic brand association stuck in fans’ minds.
A few I enjoyed on the Mighty1090 Padres radio broadcast:
- The lumber – Whether they’re highlighting a big offensive performance, talking about who is due up next inning, or referring to a hitter, the term “lumber” is an oft-cited part of baseball-isms. And the broadcast seamlessly works in Dixlieline Lumber into these mentions. It’s smooth and, every time the word lumber is thought of or brought up, a devoted Pads fans can’t help but think Dixieline. As they say about a good hit in baseball, that’s good wood.
- Insurance runs – As alluded to earlier, every big baseball fan has heard or mentioned insurance runs as their team looked to widen the gap of a close lead. Throw in a local insurance company to mention when insurance runs are on the board is another fantastic way to insert a sponsor, tie that brand to an oft-repeated baseball term, and have it all flow smoothly into the call of the game, repeatedly. Even better, if a team is seeking or scoring insurance runs, it means they’re winning, so you’re reaching excited, happy fans, driving forth positive vibes as the sponsor and the “insurance runs” jargon are married in fans’ minds.
- Geico 15 outs – If you have consumed any sports content in the past decade, you have no doubt been beaten over the head with the tagline that 15 minutes can save you 15% or more on car insurance from Geico. The auto insurance company, also known for its Australian gecko mascot, has pretty much come to own the number 15 in the minds of consumers. This has been accomplished through marketing focused on repeated exposure and, therefore, is perfect for a sport that broadcasts 162 games per season per team, at minimum. Every game, after the 15th out of the game is recorded, the stat is noted by the broadcast, as Geico gets a read before the radio commercials begin. For a product like auto insurance, which one does not buy every day, this fairly organic insertion into the local team’s broadcast is an ideal way to activate.
There are countless more examples of this throughout sports, sports media, and other industries, too. It’s a clever way to find the intersection of two brands, so a sponsor can nudge their way into fans’ minds in the language of the sport and the vernacular that fills their head and their conversation every day. So next time you put down your Coke, reach for a Kleenex, and celebrate a DomiNoNo as the ace of your team gets a Gatorade bath, think about the power of brand association in sport. At its best, it’s ingrained.