Creative Approach Rough Draft for WV Power Branding Project

This is the creative brief, interview transcript, paper edit, and rough draft of a script for a branding class (IMC 634 Digital Storytelling) project for the West Virginia Power.

West Virginia Power Branding Project

Creative Brief WV Power

Focus:

Create a unique, social and community-based entertainment value that can’t be found anywhere else. Instill a sense of hometown pride and ownership that recalls the long, rich baseball history and celebrates the strong community.

Issues:

Declining attendance. With rising costs of entertainment outings and the availability of cheap at home entertainment options (video gaming, Netfix, Pay-per-View) customers are more particular when choosing where to spend entertainment discretionary income.

Time poor consumer and a perception of a baseball game being too long or boring. Game is long; today’s consumer is time-conscious. (Most recreational activities are 2 hours or less). Baseball games typically last 3 1/2 hours.

Audience:

Urban Charlestonians

  • Live or work in close proximity to the stadium
  • 18 to 34 single or married couples
  • Enjoy an active downtown social life
  • Entertainment seeking; likely not baseball fans
  • Seeking fun, a sense of connection, community and belonging
  • Sees downtown entertainment as hip
  • Digital natives

Modern Moms

  • 24 to 45 years old
  • Social media and digitally savvy
  • Owns a smartphone and manages her life with it
  • Time scarcity is an issue; limited recreational time
  • Children under 18 in the household
  • Earns $37,000 or more annually
  • Likely controls a majority of the household budget
  • Makes decisions about the family’s and children’s entertainment
  • Many women are breadwinner moms, either as a head of household or earning a comparable salary to their partner’s

Golden Age Fans

  • Baby Boomers and Seniors, aged 50+
  • Strong community ties; longtime residents
  • Remembers the Charleston baseball legacy
  • Remembers the baseball greats of the past and the strong tradition of baseball as an American icon
  • Understands the game
  • The length and pace of the game may not be a negative

Content Points:

Will focus on making the minor league experience appeal to more than just traditional fans.

Provide an inexpensive, fun, social atmosphere that is safe, family friendly and appropriate for all ages.

Provide a strong connection and hometown pride between the team and the community. Tie is the long tradition of Charleston being a baseball town.

Each game should provide both novelty and a sense of familiarity. Every game should provide a unique and memorable experience, while it harks back to the traditions of baseball.

Brand:

WV Power is about old fashioned family values and small town pride.

Creative Approach:

A 2-3 minute nonfiction branding video that highlights the passion of the fans, and the pride in their local baseball team. It should convey the family friendly aspects of the minor league baseball experience.

Interviews (Highlights indicate initial paper edit).

Fan 1.

How do minor league players moving up or being trade affect the minor league experience and loyalty to the team?

“Yea. If they’re any good they get moved up or traded. But while they’re here, they’re ours. The good guys. When they go, were happy and sad. I think that we have helped them along in a way. It’s a hard life. They don’t get paid much. But they love it, they are dreaming of making it big. Some of us, me and Rod, and some of the others adopt a player for the season. Rod has two, they don’t always move on every year. We kind of adopt a player, find out what he likes and put together road trip kits with their favorite treats and all. Help them find a place to live, get them settled. We try to have them for dinner once a week. Kind of a family atmosphere.”

Fan 2.

How does minor league baseball experience compare to attending a major league game?

“I try to get the family up to Pittsburgh at least once a season. But the cost, working it out with baseball games, dance, and our schedules, it’s hard. This I can give them this just about any time. It’s really the only time we get to spend together that we all enjoy without a bunch of other things going on.”

Describe your children’s experiences with baseball.

“J loves it, knows all the players, gets their autographs, has posters and stuff in his room. He loves the Pirates too, but its so much more accessible here, closer. I can get him a great seat here, right up close, he can meet and talk with the players. I get to be the hero too. I feel safe if he roams around a little bit if I can see him. Even K loves it too. And she even understands the game, about home runs and strikeouts. She loves Chuck and the Toastman, has all the signs memorized. Always wants a toast thrown at her. She’d take them home, but we tell her the birds need them to eat. I don’t have to worry about covering my kid’s eyes. No cheerleaders with everything on display, everyone keeps it pretty clean. It’s a family friendly place, not too expensive. It brings people together, it’s a community thing. There a group of people all cheering together, win or lose, not for a group of high paid players in it for the money, but for a group of hopeful young players, who are loving the game and playing for a chance, with a dream of something bigger, and still have a pure passion for the game.

Fan 3. Would you agree or disagree with the statement: There’s something truly magical about baseball.  Something that you can’t lay a finger on, but it has always been there.

“It’s the whole thing, the game, the park, the crowd, the rituals. It’s a slower pace, not an adrenaline rush all the time, but peaceful. It has its exciting moments too. Everyone standing up when the ball goes over the wall, everyone cheering together. There aren’t any strangers at a baseball game. You’ve got a thousand friends cheering these guys on. But overall it’s relaxing. The App is as pretty as any park around here.  The grass, sitting in the sun on a warm evening, watching the sun set. The organ, signing in the 7th, eating peanuts, catcalling the other team, it is nostalgic. Something that we miss in rushing around all the time. Yea, I would say it does have a kind of magic, mystique, aura. It links us to the past. It’s what our grandparents did, it’s a part of American history. Football is exciting, and I love that too, but baseball is in our hearts. I don’t know, I just can’t feel the same about a football player, ya know, a connection. Baseball players are more relatable I guess. More like someone you know or who you might have been if you had worked a little harder. Football is out of touch a little.”

Fan 4.

There seems to be quite a line for autographs? How about their prospects of getting moved up?

“My son couldn’t wait til the end so he could get autographs. He likes Adams, but knows them all. Some of the young ones, you can see they still can’t believe the kids are lined up. And this is just single A. A long road to make it to the Majors somewhere. Most of them will never make it. But the dream is there, still fresh and full of hope. The schedule is tough, being away from their family, the travel and on the road all the time. They’re still young and mostly single, but later on if they want a family, it gets harder. It’s not just baseball they have to learn. It’s dealing with the lifestyle, the crowds at away games, constant traveling, playing hurt and fatigued. Their whole life from April to September is baseball. You’ve got to love it enough to make it through one season after another. They all have the dream of making it, but few of them will.”

How do you feel about the players that move up?

“Only about 10% of them will play even 1 major league game. If they haven’t made it in 5 years they probably won’t and move on. But for the ones that get called up, there’s this pride in the fans. Like we helped to get them there. We helped them reach their dream. A kind of ownership in that success. They were here and now look at them on TV. I can look at the autograph from a young 20 year old wide eyed and scared, but determined kid. Grinning from east to ear cause a 9 year old wants him to sign his name on a wrinkly piece of paper. These guys, who are really one in their late teens and early 20’s, are heroes to the kids. Yeah they know they aren’t major leaguers, but they are still real baseball players to them. And that autograph they get today from one of them, might be the one of a big name later on. That is part of the reason, the chance they might make it.  But really these young players are really about loving the game. And you can see that, it hasn’t been pounded out of them yet. It’s not about money and fame, maybe in a future thought, but they really love playing.”

Paper Edit

Fan 3. There aren’t any strangers at a baseball game. You’ve got a thousand friends cheering these guys on.

Fan 3. Baseball is in our hearts.

Fan 3. . I would say it does have a kind of magic, mystique, aura. It links us to the past. It’s what our grandparents did, it’s a part of American history.

Fan 4. Their whole life from April to September is baseball. You’ve got to love it enough to make it.

Fan 4. They still can’t believe the kids are lined up.

Fan 4. A long road to make it to the Majors somewhere. Most of them will never make it. But the dream is there, still fresh and full of hope.

Fan 4. For the ones that get called up, there’s this pride in the fans. Like we helped to get them there. We helped them reach their dream.

Fan 2. If they’re any good they get moved up or traded. But while they’re here, they’re ours. The good guys. When they go, were happy and sad. I think that we have helped them along in a way.

Fan 3. Baseball players are more relatable. More like someone you know or who you might have been if you had worked a little harder.

Fan 1. Some of us adopt a player for the season. Find out what he likes and put together road trip kits with their favorite treats. Have them for dinner once a week. Kind of a family atmosphere.

Fan 4. These guys are heroes to the kids.

Fan 1. They love it, they are dreaming of making it big.

Fan 4. Grinning from east to ear cause a 9 year old wants him to sign his name on a wrinkly piece of paper.

Fan 2. It’s so much more accessible here, closer. I can get him a great seat here, right up close.

Fan 3. The grass, sitting in the sun on a warm evening, watching the sun set. The organ, signing in the 7th, eating peanuts, catcalling the other team, it is nostalgic. Something that we miss in rushing around all the time.

Fan 2. It brings people together, it’s a community thing.

Fan 2. Hopeful young players, who are loving the game and playing for a chance, with a dream of something bigger, and still have a pure passion for the game.

Rough Draft of Script

Video Audio
Wide shot of crowd cheering together. CU of fan speaking to someone off screen. Ambient baseball game, crowd sounds. Fan 3. There aren’t any strangers at a baseball game. You’ve got a thousand friends cheering these guys on.
CU of fan and his family in stands, pan to WS of people singing national anthem before the game. CU of fan with hand over their heart. National anthem heard in the background.

Fan 3. Baseball is in our hearts.

MS of wall of fame, yellow seats from Watt park under the scoreboard, cut to CU of legends’ pictures on the wall. Ambient baseball crowd sounds. Classic organ tune heard.

Fan 3. I would say it has a kind of magic, mystique, aura. It links us to the past. It’s what our grandparents did, it’s a part of American history.

Wide shot of players on field, cut to players at community function. Fan 4.  Their whole life from April to September is baseball. You’ve got to love it to make it.
MS of fan 4, mom of boy in line for autograph. WS of kids waiting in line for and getting autographs from players. Excited chatter of children in background.

Fan 4. They still can’t believe the kids are lined up. A long road to make it to the Majors. Most of them never will. But the dream is there, still fresh and full of hope.

CU of fan 4. Crowd chanting cheers, MS shot of hand-drawn signs for home team players. Chanting crowd in background.

Fan 4. For the ones that get called up, there’s this pride in the fans. Like we helped to get them there. We helped them reach their dream.

CU of fan 2. Ambient baseball crowd sounds.

Fan 2.  If they’re any good they get moved up or traded. But while they’re here, they’re ours. The good guys. When they go, we’re happy and sad. I think that we have helped them along in a way.

MS of Fan 2, with wife and two children, a boy and a girl. Fan 3. Baseball players are more relatable. More like someone you know or who you might have been if you had worked a little harder.
WS of Fan 1 in seat behind home plate. Fan 1. Some of us adopt a player for the season.
CU of Fan 1 in stands. Cut to WS of dinner with players and host families at dinner function. Fan 1. Find out what he likes and put together road trip kits with their favorite treats, have them for dinner once a week, a family atmosphere.
MS of players interacting with kids. Fan 4. These young players are heroes to the kids.
MS of smiling player giving an autograph. WS of young fan turning to look up at parents, holding up autograph and smiling. Ambient crowd sounds, children’s chatter.

Fan 4. Grinning from ear to ear cause a 9 year-old wants him to sign his name on a wrinkly piece of paper.

WS of family seated close to the field. MS of boy smiling at Dad, glove on hand. Dad catching a piece of toast thrown by the Toastman, and hands it to excited daughter. Ambient crowd sounds.

Young daughter of Fan 2 yells.

Hey, Toastman.

Fan 2. I can get them a great seat here, right up close. I can give them this just about any time. I get to be the hero.

Families relaxing in stands, eating, conversing. Cut to player hitting home run. Then WS, all standing up with crowd cheering, hand slaps and back pats, chatter among fans. Crowd cheering.

Fan 3. It’s the whole thing, the game, the park, the crowd, the rituals. It’s relaxing, peaceful. But it has exciting moments. Everyone standing up when the ball goes over the wall, everyone cheering together. It brings people together, it’s a community thing.

CU of Fan 3. Cut to WS of fans and players on field. Singing. In background, crowd singing “Take me out to the ballgame.”

Fan 2. People all cheering together, win or lose, for a group of hopeful young players, who are loving the game and playing for a chance, with a dream of something bigger, and still have a pure passion for the game.

Power logo on screen. VO. This is Power Baseball.

 

 

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This is Power Baseball-My Experience

power 2

I spent the evening at the Appalachian Power Park, did interviews and talked with staff, fans, and some of the West Virginia Power’s super fans-The Toastman, Wheeler Bob, and members of the Power Rowdy Alley fan section. I also paid attention to how fans interacted with the staff, each other, and how engaged they were in the game. I was lucky enough to get to sit directly behind home plate and the Toastman, got the sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the 7th inning stretch with the Rowdy Alley fans (and was on the Jumbotron), got to spin the wheel for a Power merchandise prize, and enjoyed a few pictures with Chuck the mascot. The staff made sure I had the information I needed for my sport marketing and digital storytelling (branding video) projects for the WVU IMC master’s program and I had a great time.

rowdy alley

My impressions of the game…

Tonight was a clear, warm, beautiful night, yet the stands were almost empty. Wednesday games are not frequent and not much in the way of promotion was going on. The fans there tonight were mostly regulars-passionate about the team and the game. The children were what got my attention the most.

One boy about 9 or 10 was on the concourse behind the home plate section. He knew all the players by name, obviously understood the game, and joined in the heckling of the other team and the cheers for the home team. It was refreshing to see that he was actively engaged for three hours without a video game or cell phone in sight.

What makes this kid willing to put away his iPhone for 3 hours when other kids have their noses in their phones constantly?

toastman 1

Another young girl, about 4 or 5 was thrilled that she got a piece of toast thrown to her when the pitcher got a strikeout and the opposing batter was out and the customary chant of  “you are toast” was led by Rod Blackstone, The Toastman, and deputy mayor of the City of Charleston. After the game, she and her father came over and asked for the Toastman’s autograph which he gladly gave. Asked not because of his position in the local government, but because he was one of the most engaging and fun aspects of the game to her.

Why does she like the games? She likes Chuck (mascot) and eating peanuts, and the Toastman, who is silly and makes her Daddy laugh. And she and Daddy do the cheers together and he “catched” her three toasts tonight.

Why does the Toastman do this every game, season after season? He has been coming to the games since 1990, when the Toastman persona was born. Then people started to look to him to lead the cheers. And it grew from there. Passion, love of the game, love for the city, having fun at the ballpark.

toastman 2

After the game, players were available for autographs. Kids waited in line to meet, talk with, and get autographs from the Power players. The oldest player on the field tonight was 27 years old. An old man in single A ball, but to the young fans, these young players are heroes to be looked up to. And these players make very little money besides room and board. Some of the super fans “adopt” a player for the season, helping them get settled in town, find a place to live, pack road-trip bags with their favorite treats and snacks. It’s a hard life and a sacrifice for these young men.

Why do they play for so little money?

They play for the love of the game and the chance to make it to The Show. Few of them ever will, but the dream is there.

This might be just single A baseball, but to these fans, and especially the kids, these players are their hometown team. Tonight they got the win. Pride and joy on the players faces, and on the fan’s faces. The fans cheer them on and bid farewell and good luck if they get moved up, both happy and sad. The traditions are there, despite the Jumbotron, social media, goofy (fun) promotions, and ubiquitous advertising. Cracker jacks, peanuts, hot dogs, hawking food and souvenir vendors, heckling the other team’s players, and families cheering together. Family and baseball, rooting for the home team, a link back to a slower paced lifestyle. America’s pastime.

wheeler bob

Baseball was to the 1920’s as video games are today.  Baseball was something that nearly all Americans knew something about, discussed even with strangers. It was a way to find common ground, start a conversation, a friendly rivalry. It was how families, friends, communities united. Now there are so many sports, activities, things to do and that have to be done that we are a divided culture. Yet for a time, we can escape to the past, a simpler time, and watch a baseball game. Slow down, unplug, and relax with family and friends, chant silly cheers, sing during the 7th inning stretch, eat peanuts and remember.

me and chuck

Paper Edit for IMC 634

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Audio Video
Capt. Z There’s a stereotype that if you’re in the Army, that you’ve got to be a man and take care of your family. And you don’t ask for help. Wide shot of soldiers saluting, American flag in background Soldiers maneuvering in the background. MS of two captains, who appear to be talking to someone off screen. Sounds of soldiers working, commands shouted, trucks moving.
Capt. Z I think that’s part of the Army mentality; that you don’t want to ask for help.  As Commanders, it’s important that we recognize those soldiers that need help and try to break that barrier and let them know it’s okay to come forward. Pan to CU of Capt Z, who is looking over at his unit in formation.
Capt. Y When a soldier’s child has cancer, even if you don’t have kids — it sends something through you. A five-year-old, cancer. And he’s up for the fight every day. CU of Capt. Y
Capt. Y That soldier, Specialist Jones, in the same respect, is fighting with everything, to not think about the possibilities of what could happen, but living and surviving. All they want is a chance. Camera moves to CU of soldier holding child.
Capt. Z I’ve never seen a unit come together more than when a soldier or a soldier’s family needs help. MS of group of soldiers working together. Camaraderie is evident, encouraging comments are heard, backslaps and positive body language.
Capt. Z We have the support of our family at home, but our unit is a family.  And when one of them is in trouble, we all come to their aid.  WS as Y and Z look at them unit. Soldiers seen encouraging another soldier in tackling an obstacle exercise.  
Capt. Y There’s also an essence of vulnerability.  Soldiers need to see that you’re human also. CU of Capt Y.
Capt. Z You don’t always have to talk to them from a Commander to a subordinate standpoint.  You just talk to them man-to-man, and you learn a lot from your soldiers when you do that. Another officer is seen talking one on one with a soldier away from the rest of the unit.
Capt. Y It’s a domino effect.  Once one soldier receives help, he’s willing to help another soldier. It becomes contagious. MS of Y.
Capt. Y Soldiers are the heartbeat; they’re the pulse and they’re the tempo of that unit.  And if that tends to skip a beat, it’s going to show. MS Capt Y, touches hand over heart.
Capt. Z. You’ve got to keep them both mentally and physically healthy.  And the physical part is the easiest. It’s breaking through that barrier of ”I don’t need help,” that’s the toughest part of keeping them mentally healthy. MS of Z. Z watching soldiers as group doing exercises.  
Capt. Y That culture. There’s no science to it; once you put this uniform on, that you’re part of a family.  And it’s a grand scheme of taking care of each other, leaving no man behind and that your small part of the Army is taking care of your family. MS of Capt. Y, cut to soldiers seen carrying injured man to helicopter.
Capt. Y As Captains, you’re going to nurture that philosophy of the Army values, the philosophy of helping each other, the philosophy of teamwork. CU of Capt. Y, pan to WS of soldiers walking at sunset.
   

Dialogue is approximately 390 words. Read at an average of 130 words per minute, script is 3 minutes.   

Three Branding Videos that Don’t Push their Products in Our Faces

quote

Not all branding videos are “in your face” and show repeated product images and references. Effective branding can be accomplished through well-made videos that allow the story’s message to build a connection with the audience first. This message-first branding strategy is often seen as more authentic, while still building strong brand recognition through other means of engagement after the story is told through social media and promotional activities. It builds an emotional connection for the message behind the brand first. Often, the essence of a brand is felt but harder to define. For Chipotle “fresh is better,” for Johnnie Walker, its Blue Label is a taste of success and of having arrived, and for John Lewis, the message is about being the hero of Christmas in someone’s eyes. Each of the three following branding video examples are technically well-produced with well-chosen soundtracks that aid in the overall feel of the story. The messages in the stories clearly resonate with the qualities and persona of the brands.  Lead with the story first, then introduce the brand can be an effective branding strategy that communicates the essence of the brand in a powerful, yet subtle way.

“The Scarecrow” Chipotle Mexican Grill

In the video, the protagonist is a disillusioned factory worker for Crow Foods, is the antagonist of the story. Crow Foods represents big agriculture. Scarecrows, which once protected the farms and crops, are now controlled by the crows in an evil plot to control the food system. One scarecrow dreams of a better future and sets out to provide an alternative to the unsustainable practices, highly processed food products, and inhumane practices being used by Crow Foods.

“The Scarecrow” video is an emotional one with classic storytelling elements and strongly reinforces the brand’s message of sustainability and freshness. Its intention is to create awareness of big agricultural practices and show that Chipotle is committed to sourcing ingredients from more organic and local producers, and to use meat that has been raised using more humane methods.

The campaign supports Chipotle’s (2015) mission statement of: “Food with integrity is our commitment to finding the very best ingredients raised with respect for the animals, the environment and the farmers.” The campaign purpose appears to be to build a brand preference with its target audience through promoting its message instead of simply pushing its name. It is to be hoped that customers will seek out Chipotle because they are aligned with the brand’s values and will engage with the brand, building a true loyalty and preference among its customers, who will then share their preference with others, thus building credibility through word of mouth.

The video seeks to appeal to its core audience of millennials by building a brand story around the freshness and integrity of their ingredients. Chipotle wants its brand to be associated with freshness, quality, and better food sourcing practices.

Brand message: Fresh, wholesome food sourced from local farms and sustainable methods is a way to a healthier future for our bodies and our environment.

“Monty the Penguin” John Lewis Department Stores

A boy named Sam and his pet penguin Monty are seen playing together like best friends do, watching TV, playing hide and seek, building with Legos, jumping on a trampoline, at the park, playing soccer, plating in the snow. Through the progression of the year, Sam discovers that Monty is a little lonely. On Christmas morning, Sam gives Monty the one thing he is wishing for, a female Penguin as a companion. It is not until the end that we see Sam through his mother’s eyes that we are shown that Monty is a stuffed animal.

The video doesn’t show the brand and instead shows the love and wonder of a child’s imagination and his capacity of giving. As the boy slowing recognizes romantic love, he realizes that Monty needs a companion of his on species. It is this unselfish act that demonstrates the inexhaustible capacity of love. Sam is excited to show Monty his Christmas surprise, and before he even looks at any of his own gifts, we see pure joy of giving through Sam. The joy on the mother’s face as she sees Sam on Christmas day is an emotional moment that resonates well with Christmas and the joy of giving. The tagline “Give someone the Christmas they have been dreaming of” puts the emphasis of giving instead of receiving.  A welcome message among the “I wants” of an often too commercial Christmas and ties into the brand only in the final shot of the brand name and the #MontyThePenguin hashtag.

Brand message: The true joy of Christmas is in giving. John Lewis can help make you fulfill someone’s Christmas dreams.

“Game-changer” Johnnie Walker Blue Label

In the Johnnie Walker ad, “The Game Changer” a CGI Bruce Lee is created and is seen repeating some of his famous, including a reference to a “Be Water” quote from his former television series, Longstreet, from 1971. The video has a dark, cinematic quality accompanied by inspiring and meditative moments that recall the calm and explosive brilliance of Bruce Lee. The story has a biographical feel showing pictures of a young Lee while recounting his life changing moments and philosophies, leading to the final quote of “Be a game-changer” and the water representing an elusive quality of the ever-changing and adaptable. While the ad never shows the product and the ad agency that created the ad had consulted Lee’s daughter Shannon, it caused controversy because Lee had abstained from drinking alcohol.

Despite the controversy, the ad is beautifully made and captures the essence of the Johnnie Walker brand and does so without showing the product. It is a departure from the elitist ads showing a rich playboy attitude. The suited, serious but confidence persona of Lee in the video fits with the brand image without the rich, indolent air seen in other ads for Johnnie Walker Blue Label such as The Gentleman’s Wager.

This ad seeks to equate excellence in the martial arts personified by Lee with the excellence of Johnnie Walker. Lee was a game changer, showing that perfecting his craft through hard work and practice was more important than sheer size. Lee created his own style instead of following the lead of others. It is this quality which Johnnie Walker seeks to equate with its – Blue label product.

Brand Statement: Boldness and determination change the game. Be a game-changer.  Experience the confidence and sophistication that accompanies success.

Read more about these videos at:

John Lewis Unveils Christmas Ad Starring Monty the Penguin

Bruce Lee Controversially Resurrected for Johnnie Walker Ad

Ad of the Day: John Lewis May Have Already Won Christmas With Its Adorable Penguin Ad

Beautiful Chipotle Promo Video Goes Viral: Sung by Fiona Apple, the animated ad feels more like a music video or short film

Millennial Target: Chipotle Has Fresh Appeal

Photo link

Sport Marketing is Unique: No Other Industry has FANS

sports foam finger

No other industry incites the same devotion and love from its loyal brand followers as sports, which requires a unique word to describe them. The term fan (fanatic?) is used to describe loyal sport team followers with their intense passion that goes beyond the loyalty to most non-sport products.

I believe that the passion and emotion for a team or sports-related product is what differentiates sport marketing from the marketing of other products and services. In the fashion industry, loyal brand followers might be termed “fashionista”, but this is limited to gender (primarily) and not brand specific. To say that one is a “Yankees fan” is instantly understood to mean this is my favorite and I identify myself through my allegiance to this team.

Sport fans have always been vocal and opinionated. Sport rivalries feed passion and emotion. In the case of sports teams especially, memories, personal histories, and geographical location are tied in with the perception of the brand that aid in the stickiness of the alliance to a team, whether they win or lose. Rooting for the hometown team builds a sense of community. There is a strong socialization aspect to being a fan.

Fans in the Digital Age

As Stuart Feil explains in the article The Passion of the Fan digital media is creating a more informed and engaged fan. Fans have control over how they access information and can engage directly with sport brands online and in real-time 24 hours a day instead of getting information through the mass media. Feil cites the Catalyst agency that conducted a fan engagement study which found that digital channels—league websites, fan sites, online sports news sources, sports-related Twitter feeds and other Internet and social media outlets—are now second only to TV as a primary and trusted source of information for sports fans.

Peculiarities of the Sport Industry

The academic article The Nature of Sport Marketing by André W. Bühler and Gerd Nufer explains three aspects that make sport marketing unique. The article explains that while sport is considered as part of the entertainment industry, it differs from other entertainment and non-sports brands in that sport organizations are often operating in a “cartel-like environment.” This is explained as: “National (and international) competitions are organised in national (and international) leagues. The governing bodies of the leagues set the rules of the game and the competition in order to guarantee a certain level of competitive balance. In addition, there is an “associative competition” between sports teams. The authors explain that companies in traditional industry sectors seek to gain a monopoly situation in order to determine the market, sporting organisations are concerned to retain some level of parity between them, otherwise sports as a product would be in danger of losing much of its appeal and value.

A third marketing consideration in the sport industry is some team organizations aren’t focused purely on profit as business in other sectors must be to be considered successful. They are in it for the “sport”, and don’t look on their team as a business entity selling a service to the consumer. They aren’t profit-orientated.

Public Perception: Self-identifying by Fans and Extensive Media Coverage

The fourth area which Bühler & Nufer cite as unique to the sport industry is “public perception,” which describes the personal involvement and self-identification of fans and the extensive media coverage. This outside influence can affect the decisions a sport organization must make (e.g. player trades and venue changes).

The customer expresses their personality and values to others through their choice of a particular team/product and its distinguishing attributes and brand personality. This makes branding and public relations important in the sport marketing mix. Public perception of fans and the media are vitally important in sport marketing because of the self-identifying nature of sport fans.  A product that aligns with a particular sport or desired lifestyle (Nike-Just Do It) can inspire lifelong brand loyalty.

The Uniqueness of the Escalator Effect in Sport Marketing

escalator sport marketing

Source: Sport Marketing, 4th ed. Mullin, Hardy & Sutton. Human Kinetics (2014).

Many products and services have a maximum level or frequency that when reached, no further consumer of that product or service is wanted/needed, at least for a while. Clothing, household products, vehicles, and other no sport products all reach points where even the top 20% (Pareto Principle) of brand users will reach a threshold in consumption. Sport products and services, especially team-related, can continue to be of interest to consumers and have relatively no ceiling. A casual fan can become a season ticket holder, then move into premium or box seats, team apparel can change and new merchandise created to reflect the change, playoff and championship merchandise changes from year to year. VIP events can be added as a special incentive for heavy use fans. Each new change is another opportunity to market to the consumer.

Customer service is a way to move consumers up the escalator. In addition, digital media can be used to help support this upward move in consumption. The more information a consumer has, the greater the ownership feeling. As people invest more time into learning about a product or team, the more they feel a part of the collective experience. They self-identify with the team or product. (I.e. I’m a Cubs fan or I only wear Nike or I only use Mizuno clubs.) This can help the move a consumer from a light user or medium user to a heavy user as they more fully understand and engage with the brand.

Higher Levels of Fan Engagement and Media Involvement than in Other Industries

Digital media can help define a brand, engage more fully and create a one-on-one dialogue with fans at home, on the go, and during live events. Stadiums have had to adapt in order to compete with the HD and second screen experience fans have at home. Wi-Fi, stronger cellular signals in stadiums, live trivia, social gaming, in-game exclusives that can be shared via the internet are ways to create a more engaging and entertaining experience for fans that combines the benefits fans get at home with the live event experience.

Marketing for Fan Engagement

Digital media can also provide feedback on what the consumer feels about the brand. Micheal Applebaum explains in the article The Connected Fan that by using technology to foster deeper social interactions, many teams believe they can get fans to come to the park earlier, stay longer and spend more. Not to mention, the insights they garner by mining this data—such as assessing the tone of gameday tweets or analyzing the timing of video downloads—can be shared with sponsors.

For example, digital media can be a valuable source of data on what fans think about players, coaching, venues, programs, pricing, uniforms, logos or product features, styling, availability, physical and online sales locations, promotions, and pricing. Direct questions can be asked in social posts and social conversations reviewed for both positive and negative perceptions of the sport brand. Sport consumers are extremely active in expressing their opinions and in seeking information about sport services and products online as well.

The traditional sports page and watching a broadcast or live event is no longer enough to satisfy sport consumers. They want more information, more interaction with teams, coaches, and athletes. They want to know the science behind a products’ performance enhancing attributes and they want it at their convenience and schedule. Real-time updates and behind the scenes information are fan expectations. This high level of engagement makes sport marketing unique. Fans want an immersive experience, a feeling of ownership (e.g. “We won the World Series”) and being in the know that matches their passion.

Do you think the passion, time investment, and level of engagement is what makes sport marketing unique? How do you feel about the self-identifying nature of sports and how does it affect a sport brand’s marketing decisions? How does the intense media involvement affect a team’s decision-making?

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Flipboard: Another tool in the marketers’ arsenal

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Flipboard, the news aggregate and social magazine app has recently come to the desktop. The new desktop version includes many of the features that have made the Flipboard app appealing. For anyone who hasn’t used this great platform, it allows users to bookmark entire articles into personal magazines that are both beautiful to look at and easy to use. You can follow users, share magazines outside the platform, and search by topic. With the new desktop version live, I feel this is another platform to consider for promoting blogs and brands.

I came across this Flipboard magazine submitted on Google + which contains a collection of articles on branding, marketing, and engagement. Although I have used this app personally to curate articles for my own use, I hadn’t considered distributing these “magazines” to others through social media. But why not?

The great thing about the magazine is that someone else has already done all the preliminary reading and IF this is someone you trust and whose expertise you respect, then this creates a value for the reader.

Given the vast amount of content out there, and not all of it good, this is a great time saver for me. And given the sheer number of articles I read every week for school research and personally, it would not take much time to curate some of my own Flipboard magazines to distribute among my followers.

Check out Flipboard to see if curating articles and distributing these magazines is something that you could use to produce more valuable content for your followers?

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Internet of Things: A Storytelling Toothbrush to Help Kids Brush Better and a Newsfeed for You

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So I admit I take my cell phone into the bathroom with me and will sometimes load up a video or read an article while I brush and (sometimes) floss. So why do I need a brushing app and a smart toothbrush? Because it can (maybe) make me less terrified of my biannual dental visits by getting me to avoid the mid-visit slump. You know, the marked decrease in brushing time and flossing frequency when the last check-up is now a fading memory and the next visit is months away.

Oral-B may have a solution to the oral care slump that occurs between checkups. Oral-B debuted its connected toothbrush in October 2014. The Oral-B Smart Series interactive electric toothbrush with Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity and the Oral-B App tracks brushing, and that data can be shared with your dentist. The app can give brushing, flossing, and tongue cleaning reminders and personalized timers for brushing session length. In addition, dentists can recommend personalized routines in the app for patients to follow at home.

Oral-B is now encouraging developers to create apps for their new smart toothbrush as well. At the recent World Mobile Congress possible apps were introduced, including a companion mirror with a large screen behind it which can show an animated story to get kids to want to brush better. There are brushing timer apps already, but this unique interactive story changes in response to good and bad brushing techniques. If kids brush correctly a castle and rainbow appear, but incorrect brushing brings out a monster in the story. An additional story could then be sent to the kids’ phone or tablet to be watched later as a reward for good brushing.

The grownups aren’t to be left out. The mirror could be used to show news headlines, weather, and travel updates as well as a brushing timer. These are merely concepts at this time, but the potential for technology to aid oral care and provide entertainment while doing so can’t be far off. Watching television in the bathroom mirror and the smart toothbrush are already realities.

All this technology is fascinating, but underlying these advances, there is still a marketing angle. Oral-B can sell its new toothbrush and companion products to whiten teeth, improve gum care, promote better flossing, encourage tongue cleaning, improve breath and gums through oral rinses-all through a recommendation on the app. The app provides top of mind awareness for Oral-B and a consistent, daily reminder of oral care. Its good for the consumer to improve oral care, and good for Oral-B to encourage a renewed focus on habits that we mostly take for granted. Oral-B is not simply being altruistic, however. Developing new technology is not cheap, and there must be a ROI for the brand.

If you’re like me, you brush religiously the month after and before dental visits. The floss I get from the dentist probably lasts longer than my dentist intends it to. Now with reminders and a chart to show you hard data on your brushing and flossing habits, maybe that between visit slump won’t occur and Oral-B will sell more floss.

So what do you think of smart technology monitoring our self-care habits? Too close for comfort or a step in the right direction?