As I am writing this on sports marketing, in a room full of the young and restless. Pakistan, a young nation is going through very controversial senate elections. Meanwhile, 2 of the top cricket franchises i.e. Karachi Kings and Peshawar Zalmi are competing. Both events are being covered live on television while the audience in the room is occupied between their own (work) screens and TV.
However, the viewers in the room unite in favor of the sport.
Rise Of Sports Influencer Marketing
The trend, though, is that influencers need to have the same values as the brands they’re partnering with. As consumers increasingly expect influencers and brands to take a stand on important issues.
This is a must read for sports marketing enthusiasts.
Professional athletes, who often have larger Instagram followings than brands or teams, and can achieve higher engagement rates. This is often tied to a direct increase in sales. Therefore, brands now highlight their involvement with such influencers as corporate commitment. This brings me to the role of social change.
Sports and Social Change
Sports has the power to unite people beyond politics and stereotypes.
Most evident is the case of the Pakistan Super League where individuals and causes are promoted during the live telecast of cricket to millions of viewers worldwide. Often it is the brands who are pushing the sports administrators, marketers, and providers to incorporate activities that facilitate social change.
Sports and entertainment marketing have one thing in common. That is to say, marketing and promotion of celebrities and events. However, Sports stars aren’t actors and can’t always effectively brand.
Sponsorship and why?
The uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is reducing the value of sponsorship. How rights holders sell and brand managers make those investments are of critical importance. Most importantly, when there is a clash between sponsors to secure sports rights, they likely can control fees.
As Nielsen points “Brands need to have digital-first contingencies in place to engage with consumers.”
This shift is here to stay in a risky physical world. Last year, Pakistan’s biggest cricket tournament was stopped in the last stages as a result of the pandemic.
The challenge is often for those representing tier two or less developed sports. Squash and hockey are prime examples although both have nationwide recognition. Add to that potential for football i.e soccer for a year around fan engagement.
One area with more activity in recent years is the private investors who see an opportunity to generate business from a long-term sports partnership. This brings me to the largely untapped potential of women in sports.
Sports and Women
The general perception that women are not active in sports is outdated and irrelevant. Pakistan has recently witnessed a rise in the achievements of women in sports. A decade of transformation at best covered mostly by media.
Brands can play a huge role by sponsoring facilities that lack significantly. In partnership with sports federations and even educational institutions. A long-term view for developing women’s sports in Pakistan. Be it cricket, squash, soccer, badminton, or/and athletics at large.
Sponsorship is still one of the best ways in empowering besides celebrating their achievements. Sports are also a catalyst for gender equality. Many brands already play a role in this, but they are not as actively involved as they should be. Considering the young women population, stakeholders need to do more. It’s still relatively new for women’s sports.
Esports has a great future and already has a considerable market size globally. Game Streaming was at an all-time high in 2020. Surpassing many traditional sports in terms of both revenue and viewership. But, what about us?
Perhaps, Pakistan needs to re-evaluate sports penetration and effectiveness. It’s the way they consume sports that matters. In other words at reaching a young, diverse and inclusive audience. They enjoy sports just as much as members of other generations. As an additional marketing channel.
This happens to be my observation based on experience. A significant number of our upcoming generation grew up with screens in their hands and it’s not TV.
Whats Sports Got To Do With Me?
Pakistan is popular for 3 sports in the world. It is an honor for me to experience all three of them as a marketeer. For example:
. World Squash Team Championship 2005 with Pakistan Squash Federation
. Shukriya Pakistan Hockey Cup 2016 with Pakistan Hockey Federation
. Pakistan Super League Cricket: With Karachi Kings 2016–17
In my humble opinion, sponsors are advised to rethink their strategies.
As a result.A direct connection with customers and a purpose-driven brand footprint. Therefore, an emphasis on digital and influencers will be critical going forward. However, the best way to do that is to study the market deeply and inclusively.
This for me is the game, set and match in 2021 & beyond for year around fan engagement.
Originally published at https://asimqureshi.com on March 3, 2021.