UNLV Students Find a Creative Way to Market Star Players

In recent years, college athletics departments have become very agressive with their efforts to generate fan excitement during college basketball games. One tactic in particular - Big Noggins (or giant heads resembling players, celebrities, and personalities) has become an instant hit particularly with student sections seated behind the baskets. Fans use the items to distract free throw shooters and add an element of personality and surprise to the game environment.

The UNLV Athletics Department recently took it's men's basketball game environment to another level when it allowed fans to proudly display a mammoth life-sized head an upper torso picture of UNLV star Mike Moser during a game against San Diego State. The branding tactic served as an effective way to add an extra element of surprise to the game and likewise attract the attention of star recruit Shabazz Muhammad, who was seated just a few feet away. 

As teams look for new ways to engage their fanbases during games, notably student sections, they should look to recreate best practices like UNLV's Mike Moser cutout. The branding effectively promotes players and provides some incremental exposure for apparel partners in a memorable, engaging manner!

Check out the stunt below:

Xylobands Bring Live Event Experiences to Life in New Ways

In the next few months, team and brand marketers should maintain a close eye on a growing phenomenon in sports and entertainment - xylobands.

Xylobands are essentially wristbands with LED lights that allow large crowds at live events/shows to simultaneously flash different colors and messages in the air. The xylobands are radio controlled bands that allow event organizers to control when the lights (on the wrists of fans) are lit up at a pre-determined time, creating a pretty fascinating spectacle for fans in-attendance as well as those watching at home.

The premium items have been utilized on the X-Factor as well as on Coldplay's recent concert tour. Event organizers can coordinate for the bands to flash at particular times during pre-game, halftime, and post-game festivities as well as potentially during timeouts in play.

Check out the xylobands in action below:

Properties Take Game Entertainment to New Heights

In today's sports marketplace, properties are expected to deliver a higher quality live game experience for fans than ever before. With new advents of technology, rising ticket prices, and the evolution of the at-home viewing experience, teams are consistently pressured to push the envelope as they look for new ways to create memorable experiences for fans attending games.

In recent weeks, two organizations turned to unconventional game entertainment techniques to engage their fanbases in new ways. Check out the two examples below and consider ways that your organization can introduce new forms of entertainment and excitement for fans!

Atlanta Hawks - Georgia Lottery Halftime Show

The Hawks organization recently partnered with the Georgia Lottery to execute a 3D halftime light show that helped educate and inform fans about their new $2 Powerball game. The Hawks created a 3.5 minute show that was projected on the basketball court floor that created excitement around Powerball in a compelling, non-intrusive manner.

The Hawks leveraged six (6) dancers and two (2) of its mascots to help illustrate the journey of the Powerball through several gaming platforms before becoming a winning number in an iconic lottery machine (per EventMarketer.com). The team worked with BlackOut design and Moment Factory to pull off the stunt - check it out below:

Boise State Athletics - Flash Mob

The Boise State Marketing team recently pulled off a tremendous student section ("The Corral") flash mob performance that generated an elevated level of excitement in the Taco Bell Arena. Students wearing matching orange shirts and blue headwear performed two (2) choreographed dances in unison that took everyone in attendance by surprise.

The cost-effective game entertainment tactic served as a great way for the Athletic Department to generate buzz online (56K+ YouTube) as well as with the Boise State student and alumni communities. Check out the execution below:

Teams Turn to Exclusive Camera Angles To Give Fans Unique Vantage Points of the Action

In recent years, the emergence of social media has placed increased pressures on sports organizations to deliver new, compelling content for fans to enjoy. As a result, many teams have looked to create exclusive gameday camera angles that provide fans with unique vantage points of the action.

Exclusive camera angles are a terrific resource to have on gameday, as they:

  • Provide valuable content that can be sold to corporate partners (especially if a brand serves as the presenting sponsor of the dance team, halftime entertainment, emcee, etc.)
  • Provide valuable content for fans via social media (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter), team apps (mobile), team digital channels (live, streaming content), and inside suites and select stadium destinations
  • Serve as key way for teams to extend the gameday engagement experience
  • Provide access to team and player personnel in new ways

While it's one thing to watch a game passively on television, it's another to experience the action through the eyes of a key stakeholder on-site/in attendance. Check out a few examples of how teams are looking to bring fans closer to the action:

Cheerleader / Dance Team Cam

Tunnel Cam

Bench Cam

Helmet Cam

Mascot Cam

Parachute Cam

Foot Cam

Teams Can Turn to Projection Mapping to Promote Airline Partnerships in New Ways

Over the past few years, airline partners have invested more time and resources into their team, league, and event sponsorships. Airlines have invested in branding aircraft with team marks, developing loyalty programs for fans, creating ownable stadium destinations, and distributing free ticket vouchers to fans in attendance.

While airlines have sought to activate their partnerships more actively at airports nationwide, one tactic that we have not seen executed to date in conjunction with a team partnership is projection mapping. Just think how amazing it would be to look out the window at the airport and see a virtual Tom Brady throwing a touchdown pass to Deion Branch along the side of the plane.

While projection mapping would likely need to be a one-off marketing/PR stunt, it would be fun to see an airline promote team partnerships in its hometown market by featuring a different projection display along the side of an aircraft (or inside along a wall in the concourse) every night of the week. 

As shown below, Air Baltic recently generated buzz during the holiday season by featuring a projection mapping stunt at a Latvian airport that showed a team of virtual elves raiding a plane that was stationed at the gate. The marketing tactic, which caught passengers by surprise, was filmed and uploaded to YouTube and instantly generated 24,000+ likes in less than a day.

Check out the clip below and consider new ways that your organization can leverage its partnerships with new forms of technology in high-traffic locales!

U.S. Olympic Hopefuls Turn to Temporary Tattoos to Generate Sponsorship Dollars

In recent years, Olympic athletes have taken many different approaches to support their training regimens, NGB's, and lifestyle.With the 2012 London Olympic Games less than 300 days away, U.S. Olympic hopeful Nick Symmonds recently set up an auction on eBay that allowed one (1) brand an opportunity to place a temporary tattoo on his shoulder for the 2012 track and field season.

With the auction open for bid by any company/agency, Milwaukee-based Hanson Dodge Creative (HDC) capitalized on the opportunity and placed a winning bid of $11,100 for the rights to place their brand's Twitter handle (@HansonDodge) on Symmonds' shoulder during several upcoming races, including the Sydney Grand Prix and possibly the Olympic Games if Symmonds qualifies.

What's interesting about the Symmonds-Hanson Dodge Creative partnership is that it entails much more than a standard agency branding play. As a leading active lifestyle agency, Symmonds will serve as a Running and Outdoor Active Lifestyle Advisor for Hanson Dodge and will help the agency develop a dedicated Advisory Board. In turn, Hanson Dodge will work with Symmonds to strengthen his personal brand through strategic marketing communications recommendations and drive his business efforts.

The Symmonds-Hanson Dodge Creative partnership serves as a great case study of how athletes (across all sports) are working more closely with agencies and other entities to build their personal brands. While ambush marketing remains a key concern heading into the London 2012 Olympic Games, it will be interesting to see if more athletes turn to similar auction processes to generate awareness and sponsorship dollars. HDC's partnership with Symmonds is very smart, as it serves as a very strong positioning play and will surely generate a return (from media exposure) that exceeds their investment.

The D-backs Host a Most Valuable Partner Awards Night

It has become a common practice in the sports space for teams to host Sponsor Summits to recap their seasons, share ideas, insights and best practices, drive B2B opportunities, and reward partners with a memorable experience that builds their connection with the team.

While most teams make slight tweaks to evolve their Sponsor Summits each year, the Arizona Diamondbacks have developed a new approach that could soon become an industry benchmark. The Diamondbacks recently announced that they will be hosting a Most Valuable Partner Awards Night on January 19th for nearly 300 corporate partners and select guests. 

The team has planned a night filled with entertainment and celebration at the Wild Horse Pass & Casino  for all their partners and extended family. The event will kick off with a red carpet event at 6pm, followed by an opening musical number and monologue, "DB Awards" given out by the team, and plenty of humorous vignettes produced by the Diamondbacks' Game Operations and Multimedia Productions department.

The Diamondbacks have called on Team President & CEO Derrick Hall to emcee the event, with assistance from several players, legends, broadcasters, and Managing General Partner Ken Kendrick.

Throughout the night, the Diamondbacks will celebrate their partners' "business wins" with DB Awards representing eight different categories:

  • Luis Gonzalez Gonzalez Community Champion Award - Given to the partner who truly makes a difference in the local community
  • Brand Integration Award - Given to the partner that best uses the D-backs brand or logo to sell their product or seperate themselves from their competition
  • D-backs Ambassador Award - Given to the company that best embraces the partnership by exposing it to their employees and customers
  • Marketing Activation Award - Given to the partner who creates an innovative D-backs promotion to help build their brand or create direct response (either marketwide or in Chase Field)
  • Rookie of the Year - Given to a first-year partner who immediately embraced the D-backs partnership culture and maximized their affiliation
  • Lifetime Achievement Award - Given to a team partner who has been aligned with the team throughout its existence and helped define partnership as the team knows it.
  • Most Valuable Partner of the Year - Given to the partner who encompasses everything in each MVP category (the award is given at a Silver Slugger Division level and a Gold Glove Division level)

The event serves as a great way to build relationships, incent partners to enhance their partnership efforts, and position the team as a first-class partner in Major League Baseball and the Phoenix DMA. It will be very encouraging to see how partners respond to the event and look to elevate their partnerships during the 2012 MLB season! Congrats to all involved on creating such a terrific concept.

XFINITY Offers a Chance to Win the Ultimate Sports Social Media Job

XFINITY recently launched a contest to hire an individual who will serve as the brand's voice in the sports social media space and go behind-the-scenes at some of the biggest nationwide sporting events in 2012, sharing exclusive insights and updates with fans. 

The contest, entitled “XFINITY Presents: The Ultimate Sports Social Media Job,” runs from January 11 through March 25 in search of the next sports social media star.

The winner will receive a one-year salary and will be responsible for tweeting from the @XFINITYSports Twitter handle on continual basis,  reporting live from premier sporting events throughout 2012, and educating and engaging avid sports fans in social media communities. In addition to live event access, the winner will also receive all the electronics for the ultimate sports pad, including televisions, home audio/video equipment, etc.


From January 13 - February 6, interested participants can submit a :30-2:00 video that demonstrates why they should win the Ultimate Sports Social Media Job based on their sports knowledge, social media expertise, personality, and passion for XFINITY products and services.


From February 9 - February 19, the top video submissions will be featured on the contest tab located on the official XFINITY Facebook page for fans to vote on. The video entrants that receive the Top 5 votes will advance to a finalist round where they will have an opportunity to travel to a live sports event and showcase their skills on-site.


Five (5) finalists will each travel to one (1) of (5) premier sports events the weekend of March 8-11 and will be asked to chronicle their live experiences behind-the-scenes via tweets, Facebook posts, video uploads, etc. A panel of judges will evaluate each of the performances - looking for which finalist does the best job showcasing his/her skills on-site! A winner will be selected by March 25th and will truly win the Ultimate Sports Social Media Job!

The contest will present a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for one (1) lucky consumer looking for a way to officially launch their career in sports and social media. Check it out by clicking the image below and enter a video submission for a chance to win!

 In full disclosure, the writer (Brian Gainor) worked directly with the XFINITY team to launch the XFINITY Presents: The Ultimate Sports Social Media Job contest. For contest rules and more information, head to the official XFINITY Facebook page here.

Manchester City and Jaguar Team Up for An Entertaining Halftime Promotion

Manchester City FC recently teamed up with Jaguar to create a pretty thrilling form of halftime entertainment for fans to enjoy that can be replicated in most other major professional sports.

The game, called Boot the Boot, tasks select fans with attempting to kick soccer balls from a distance into the trunk of a Jaguar that is parked within the corner tunnels of Etihad Stadium at the playing level (a trunk is commonly referred to as a boot in Europe). The promotion is perfectly suited for in-game entertainment because it adds a level of excitement while seamlessly integrating the Jaguar brand into the experience.

A similar promotion can be replicated in several additional sports, including:

1. Baseball - MLB/MiLB teams can task fans with throwing a baseball from 2nd base (or the outfield) into the trunk of a car (one-hopping it along the way)

2. Basketball - Teams can task fans with trying to throw a full-court pass into the trunk of a car for the chance to win free parking for a section of fans at the game

3. Tennis - Tennis officials can task fans with trying to hit 5 of 10 tennis balls into the trunk of an automobile located at courtside for the chance to win a free lease for a year

4. Football - Teams can ask fans to attempt to throw a 30-40 yard pass into the trunk of a car (located along the sidelines) for the chance to win a free lease for a year

Check out the MCFC-Jaguar "Boot the Boot" promotion below and consider new ways that your organization can integrate automobile partners in a fun, memorable way for fans!

Sports Business Predictions to Keep an Eye on in 2012

A new year is upon us and while there are many unknowns, especially given the advent of new technologies, I wanted to share a few predictions for 2012 that will be important to keep in mind throughout the year. Hope you enjoy:

2012 Sports Industry Outlook

The sports marketplace will be driven by mobile marketing, social TV, industry consolidation, and globalization in 2012.

Mobile marketing will continue to shape the sports industry as properties and brands look to optimize their mobile offerings, develop robust applications, and deliver content in new ways. Organizations will look to augmented reality, social gaming, and geo-location based services to serve as new means to engage fans. In turn, fans will continue to embrace the TV Everywhere experience and access live, streaming and On Demand content via their mobile phones, tablets, and other devices on the go.

Brands and properties will continue to invest in the social media space as fans gravitate to the notion of social TV creating a communal viewing experience that delivers real-time engagement, insights, and unique vantage points. Properties will sharpen their social media focus in 2012 by developing smarter, more holistic strategies, hiring dedicated personnel, and creating their own monetization models by integrating corporate partners.

The sports marketplace will also be impacted by the effects of industry consolidation, aggressive rights acquisition strategies, and globalization. Networks will continue to form partnerships in an effort to build robust platforms to host premiere events (e.g. Olympics, World Cup, etc.) while teams will dedicate time and resources to build out video content distribution strategies that reach fans across the world.

The London 2012 Olympic Games will be touted as the sports story of the year while the Barclays Premier League, UFC, and college athletics will continue to grow their businesses significantly in new markets worldwide.

December 2011 Partnership Activation Newsletter

Welcome to the December 2011 Partnership Activation 2.0 Newsletter! Thank you for your continued interest and support for Partnership Activation and the monthly newsletter.

Click here to purchase the December 2011 Partnership Activation Newsletter for $7.99.

After reviewing the newsletter, please take a moment to share it with friends via email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, personal blogs, and other platforms and modes of communication. Here is a shortened URL that you can use to include in tweets, etc: http://bit.ly/tg9WZ3

This month's newsletter features a collection of insights, including:

  • 20 Non-Traditional Bowl Game Sponsors in 2011-12
  • 2012 - GMR Marketing's Social Media Channels
  • Ohio University Center for Sports Administration
  • 2012 National Sports Forum
  • Navigate Research Industry Spotlight
  • Barclays 20,000th Goal Celebration
  • Sevilla Sells Space on Team Jerseys to Fans
  • Adidas Launches an Augmented Reality Initiative in Scotland
  • Audi Gives a Nod to the Barcelona-Real Madrid Rivalry in a Commercial
  • Oregon Athletics Play Up the Civil War Rivalry
  • All Blacks Fans Experience Rugby in a New Way
  • The Manhattan Sports Business Academy
  • Creativity In the Sports Marketplace
  • December 2011 Partnership Activation Rising Stars
  • The Old Spice Classic's Social Media Efforts
  • A Close Look at the 2011 Grey Cup
  • 5 #SportsBiz Handles You Must Follow on Twitter
  • 50 of the Most Creative Ideas in Sports Business in 2011
  • Zlaty Bazant Beer Encourages Fans to Drink Responsibly
  • Baylor IMG Gives Fans a Suite Seat for the Game
  • The Western Bulldogs' Capture Their Brand Story
  • The New BC Place Showcases the Future of Stadium Lighting
  • Red Bull Soars Over Moses Mahiba Stadium
  • Four (4) Creative Ways to Engage Fans with Interactive Walls
  • Idea Box

Click here to purchase the December 2011 Partnership Activation Newsletter, connect with other readers in the official Partnership Activation LinkedIn Group, and follow Brian Gainor on Twitter for additional sponsorship/marketing tactics throughout the month!

If you are interested in signing up for the newsletter, please send an email with "Subscribe" in the subject line to newsletter@partnershipactivation.com. In the body of the email, please include your name, company affiliation, and contact information when subscribing.

Forbes 30 Under 30 - Entertainment

I wanted to send a special thanks to Forbes Magazine for the inclusion in their 2011 "30 Under 30" list in the category of Entertainment. It's a true honor to be featured alongside some of the brightest and hardest working individuals in the industry.

I want to also send a special congratulations to industry friend Chris Chaney for making the list as well! If you are not familiar with Chris, he is the CEO of Chaney Sports Group, the Founder of the Ivy Sports Symposium, and one of the most genuine guys in the business.

Thank you to all the readers and avid supporters of PartnershipActivation.com and the Partnership Activation 2.0 Newsletter ... and to all my family, friends, and colleagues at GMR Marketing for their continued support.

Check back to PartnershipActivation.com for more exciting content to come!

Best Wishes,


BP Brings Fans Closer to Team USA Athletes with an Innovative Augmented Reality Initiative

As an official sponsor of the U.S. Olympic Committee, BP recently released an innovative new augmented reality campaign that gives consumers a chance to face-to-face with some of the world's best athletes. BP teamed up with nine U.S. athletes to develop an interactive trading card series that will be included in the December 19th issue of BusinessWeek and featured on BP's website.

Consumers who download the trading cards can hold them up to their computer screen or a mobile phone camera and see them come to life as the athletes digitally appear in front of the user with exclusive training tips and information about themselves and their sports.

U.S. Olympic and Paraylmpic athletes featured in the exclusive trading card series include:

  • Lolo Jones - Track & Field, 100m Hurdler
  • Tatyana McFadden - Paralympic Cycling, Wheelchair
  • Sanya Richards-Ross - Track & Field, 400m Sprinter
  • Bryan Clay - Track & Field, Decathlon
  • Rudy Garcia-Tolson - Paralympic Swimming, 100m and 200m Swimmer
  • Jonathan Horton - Gymnastics
  • Jerome Singleton - Paralympic Track & Field, 100m and 200m Sprinter
  • Rebecca Soni - Swimming, 100m and 200m Breaststroke
  • Matt Stutzman - Paralympic Archery

Check out BP's augmented reality trading card series here and learn more about their commitment to Team USA on their official Facebook page.

The University of Florida Student Ticket Office Thanks Fans for Their Loyalty

Numerous opportunities exist in the sports space for teams and corporate partners alike to reward loyal fans for their perfect attendance during a season. While most professional organizations will periodically honor fans who have been season ticket holders for 10+ years, very few go the extra mile to thank fans for their commitment on a regular basis.

The University of Florida Student Ticket Office recently thanked season ticket holders for their loyalty with a simple, yet impactful gesture that should be replicated throughout sports. Travis Leyndyke and his team in the UF Student Ticket office emailed all ticket holders who had their tickets scanned for every home game during the 2011 football season to thank them for their support.

Fan congratulatory emails can serve as a great platform to integrate corporate partners as well, as they present an opportunity to tap into the University/team's most avid fan base and sincerely acknowledge/reward them for their support. Properties can also consider creating a virtual wall on their official website that features all fans who had perfect attendance throughout the season (a platform that could be sponsored by a brand who provides an exclusive promotional discount/reward).

Check out the University of Florida's email communication below and consider new ways that your property can acknowledge fans firsthand for their support!


Reebok Uses 3D Art to Promote CrossFit

In recent months, 3D art has become a popular, non-traditional tactic for sports properties and their corporate partners to generate awareness in a fun way. As entities continue to mine for new ways to "escape the clutter" on game day, 3D art has proven to be a creative solution that surely generates the impressions that brands are looking for.

Reebok recently turned to 3D art to promote the CrossFit Games, its supported fitness program. CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program and licensor of 3,000+ gyms that is gaining interest and traction with fit consumers worldwide. Reebok partnered with two legendary 3D artists to create the largest ever 3D street art display and set an official Guinness World Record.

The result? Reebok and Joe and Max created a 1,160.4m 3D art display at London's West India Quays, Canary Wharf that generate a significant amount of interest. Reebok turned the exhibit into an engaging display by allowing public onlookers to participate in a Reebok CrossFit workout of the day on top of the artwork - a truly memorable experience.

Check it out below:

November 2011 Partnership Activation Newsletter

Welcome to the November 2011 Partnership Activation Newsletter! Thank you for your continued interest and support for Partnership Activation and the monthly newsletter.

Click here to purchase the November 2011 Partnership Activation Newsletter for $7.99.

After reviewing the newsletter, please take a moment to share it with friends via email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, personal blogs, and other platforms and modes of communication. Here is a shortened URL that you can use to include in tweets, etc: http://bit.ly/tKW46y

This month's newsletter features a collection of insights, including:

  • 20 Digital/Social Platforms to Utilize in 2012
  • The Baylor Bold Rewards Program
  • 7 Key Insights from the World of Sports Media & Technology
  • The 2012 National Sports Forum
  • The Emergence of Social TV
  • Asics' Run with Ryan Campaign
  • Long Beach State's "Like Us" Campaign
  • Betfair's QR Cuts Initiative with Bromley FC
  • ESPN UK's New Soccer Augmented Reality Feature
  • The University of Michigan's Jet Pack Delivery
  • Contrex's Cycling Initiative
  • A Look at BeerToasts.com
  • The November 2011 Partnership Activation Rising Stars
  • The Phoenix Suns' Top Facebook Fans App
  • Tailgate Lot Activation
  • A Close Look at Preparations for the 2012 London Olympic Games
  • 50 Ways to Leverage Automobile Partners In-Venue
  • Five #SportsBiz Profiles You Must Follow
  • Manchester United's Tribute to Sir Alex Ferguson
  • The Winnipeg Jets Deliver a Truly Exclusive Corporate Partner Experience
  • ING's Pop-Up Finish Line Displays
  • The Montreal Canadiens Celebrate Team History
  • Betfair Lets Fans Skydive While Betting on Soccer
  • Four Ways to Take Your Kids Club Efforts To New Heights
  • Idea Box

Click here to purchase the November 2011 Partnership Activation Newsletter, connect with other readers in the official Partnership Activation LinkedIn Group, and follow Brian Gainor on Twitter for additional sponsorship/marketing tactics throughout the month!

If you are interested in signing up for the newsletter, please send an email with "Subscribe" in the subject line to newsletter@partnershipactivation.com. In the body of the email, please include your name, company affiliation, and contact information when subscribing.

The Islanders Celebrate Military Night with a Special Ceremonial Puck Drop

The New York York Islanders recently generated excitement around their Military Night festivities by calling on staff Sgt. Matthew Zimmerman of the Air National Guard to lower down from the rafters to drop the ceremonial puck at center ice.

The unusual spectacle drew a loud applause from all fans in attendance and served as a creative way to showcase and celebrate the skills of the Armed Forces.

Check out a visual of the ceremonial puck drop stunt below: