Borussia Dortmund Celebrates the Champions League with an Impressive Fan Display

In recent years, it's become a common practice for teams to invest time and resources into creating elaborate pre-game ceremonial displays. Teams are working harder now than ever before to pull off card stunts, flyovers, flag displays, and more to elevate the game experience for fans.

Fans of the soccer club Borussia Dortmund recently put on an extremely impressive display prior to a Champions League match against Arsenal. The match, held at Emirates Stadium, featured a large section of fans seated in a wing of the stadium performing a massive card stunt, highlighted by an image of a crown being lifted into the air above the stands and overlooking the playing field.

The pre-game ceremony was truly special. Take a look at how the team pulled it off below:

It would be interesting to see teams adopt this ceremonial tactic to promote corporate partners (showcasing their logos above the stands/playing field), athletes and their individual brands (think of the Miami Heat raising a crown in the air to promote LeBron "King" James), and new team kits/uniforms.

Look for more sports organizations to benchmark these tactics in the future!

Go Inside the Huddle to Deliver Unprecedented Access for Fans

The University of Washington football team gave its fanbase unprecedented access during the team's annual Spring Game by outfitting quarterbacks Keith Price and Nick Montana with a helmet cam and mic.

The result? The Washington Huskies football team was able to effectively convey to fans what it's like to lead a football team during a game, including:

  • Calling plays in the huddle
  • Taking snaps from center
  • Identifying defensive schemes
  • Scrambling on the run
  • Listening to coaches provide instruction
  • Staring down defenders
  • Throwing passes
  • Motivating teammates
  • Scoring touchdowns

The insider video, posted by Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian on YouTube, truly serves as a best-in-class execution that should be benchmarked by all sports organizations (either during practice, Spring games, exhibition games, etc.). The video has attracted 44,000+ views. Check it out below:

Sarkisian recently followed up the Huskies' "Inside the Huddle" access with two (2) terrific Fall Camp 2011 videos, profiling the football team behind-the-scenes. Check them out below:

A special thanks to Rising Star Mark Gallo of Anheuser-Busch for his insights and contributions to this column!

Heineken Lets Fans Interact With "The Entrance" on YouTube

Over the past few months, Heineken's commercial "The Entrance" has universally been embraced by millions of consumers across the world. The commercial, created in tandem with Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam, has attracted over 1 million views on YouTube and millions of more impressions on television.

However, while the campaign proved to be very successful in North America, Heineken took the campaign to another level in Taiwan. Heineken launched an interactive YouTube video where consumers can engage with various elements of the commercial. By providing consumers with an opportunity to have control of their experience viewing "The Entrance", Heineken can likely generate higher brand/campaign recall and a higher viewer propensity to share. 

The video's interactivity demonstrates how marketers have only begun to scratch the surface when it comes to fully utilizing YouTube as a messaging and engagement platform - especially in relation to the sports.

Check out the engaging YouTube campaign below!

(Please note: You will need to input your date of birth for verification purposes before viewing).

A special thanks to Cameron North of AdSport for his insights and contributions to this column!

FC Barcelona Uses Humor to Welcome Cesc Fabregas Back Home

Over the past few years, teams have certainly become smarter and much more creative when it comes to marketing during free agency. With millions of dollars in merchandise sales, ticket sales, and other concessions at stake, teams are generating fan interest and awareness a number of ways.  

FC Barcelona recently unveiled one of the most unique approaches when it launched a cartoon vignette to welcome Cesc Fabregas, one of the greatest soccer players in the world, to their organization. The vignette features a mix of humor, pop culture, and creativity to welcome their new star player back home.

Check it out below and consider how your organization can capitalize on a similar business approach during free agency!

adidas Turns a Chinese Subway Station Into an Outdoor Gym

Entities associated with the UFC, boxing, and other sports related to mixed martial arts should take a close look at a branding tactic that adidas recently displayed in a Chinese subway. adidas generated awareness and excitement amongst subway passengers by turning several giant poles in the subway station into giant punching bags. 

This marketing stunt would work extremely well to promote premier UFC (and other MMA) events in high-traffic locations and stadiums (wrapping poles in the concourse to promote upcoming events) worldwide.

Check out adidas' creative execution below:

Essendon Turns to Augmented Reality to Engage Fans

Essendon FC of the Australian Football League (AFL) recently teamed up with an agency named tkmp to create an innovative augmented reality campaign that engaged fans in a new way on gameday.

Essendon FC used digital technology to project a group of virtual footballs onto the facade of the team's stadium, the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Fans attending the match were encouraged to stand in front of a digital screen outside the venue and interact with the virtual footballs. The unique experience allowed fans a chance to see themselves projected onto the side of the stadium.

Check out the innovative campaign below:

Essendon FC and tkmp also teamed up to project some cool visuals at MCG - check it out below!

Essendon Football Club Projections from tkm9 on Vimeo.

A special thanks to Sam Attrilof nexusmg for his insights and contributions to this column!

Idea of the Day: M.C. Hammer's Spinning Bobblehead

The Oakland Athletics recently hosted an M.C. Hammer Bobblehead Night that generated a significant amount of awareness for the club's "80's Weekend" at the ballpark. The A's celebrated Hammer's duties as a team clubhouse assistant from 1973-1980 by distributing a replica bobblehead that actually spins - a simple, yet brilliant idea!

Check out the bobblehead below:

Evian Brings Its Roller Babies Commercials Back To Life with a Creative Viral T-Shirt Campaign

In July 2009, Evian struck gold when it released an Evian Roller Babies commercial that quickly became one of the most successful media campaigns of all-time. The clip, featuring a collection of virtual babies performing a series of stunts on roller skates in conjunction with the brand's tagline "Live Young", attracted nearly 60 million views online and generated a significant amount of buzz for the brand.

Now, two years after the launch of the Evian Roller Babies, the brand is still capitalizing. Evian launched a "Let's Baby Dance" campaign that enables consumers to film a video of themselves dancing while wearing a virtual baby shirt to become a part of the longest music video ever produced. The microsite includes tabs where consumers can purchase t-shirts and ringtones utilized in the campaign and download an official iPhone application.

Evian is supporting the campaign with a fully-branded Facebook Page and YouTube page that host a series of entertaining virals. Check out the "Baby Inside" virals below:

Evian even produced a version in support of the 2011 Wimbledon tournament, in which the brand was an official sponsor:

The campaign is extremely simple yet brilliant because it demonstrates how teams and brands alike can bring commercial campaigns to life online and potentially capitalize on new streams of revenue from apparel/licensing. If a team/league were able to benchmark this effort and generate buzz around an item of apparel online, they could surely create demand and capitalize on licensing.

Check out some snapshots of the "Lets Baby Dance" microsite below:

Gillette Gives Roger Federer The World's Biggest Shave on Grass

Gillette created a marketing splash in London prior to Wimbledon by creating a giant grass portrait of a freshly shaven Roger Federer in a pasture the size of a football field. Gillette called on a firm called Street Advertising Services to create the massive shaving stunt, which required 3,000 liters of biodegradable green specialist grass paint and 1,000 liters of foam. 

After painting Federer's face in the pasture, the team of artists gave him the Pro Glide treatment by mowing/shaving it off, creating a terrific illustration for consumers worldwide to enjoy. Gillette drove additional consumer excitement by allowing fans at home to submit messages of support to Federer for the chance to have their message included in 10-foot-high letters underneath the grass portrait. The winner, Ryan B., saw his quote, "Go on my man, the world is yours to own!" depicted in the stunt. 

The Federer marketing stunt is part of Gillette's efforts to break their own record for the World's Biggest Shave in 2011. In January, the company lathered up and shaved an image of Derek Jeter on a 40-foot high billboard in New York City.

Check it out below:




1. Gillette's UK Facebook Page

2. Adland.TV

adidas Drives Store Traffic With Shoe Box Marketing Stunt

adidas celebrated the grand opening of its flagship store in Melbourne, Australia with a creative marketing stunt designed to drive excitement and foot traffic. adidas erected several giant shoe boxes throughout the mall and gave unsuspecting consumers passing by a left shoe with a voucher attached that they could redeem for a free pair of shoes of that style inside the adidas store. 

The adidas marketing stunt was creatively executed and served as a great way to generate buzz and excitement at a relatively low cost. Check it out below:

It would be interesting to see professional sports teams benchmark this marketing/PR stunt to drive awareness and excitement for new merchandise items throughout the season. Teams could set up mystery boxes throughout the concourse (staffed by interns) giving away free apparel and premium giveaways - a tactic designed to drive traffic and sales in the official team shop.

Nike Gives Fans an Inside Edge During the Preseason

Nike recently launched a terrific campaign that showcases how the world's leading soccer clubs - Manchester United, FC Barcelona, Club America, and Arsenal - prepare during the pre-season. 

Nike's campaign, entitled "Inside Edge", is brilliant because it demonstrates how brands can effectively leverage their sports partnerships throughout the off-season - a time when many lessen their marketing and activation spend. It also showcases how brands can effectively associate several (but not all) team partnerships in one major consumer-facing campaign.

The pre-season Nike campaign takes fans behind-the-scenes, demonstrating how players from the world's elite soccer clubs prepare for the upcoming season. The campaign provides insightful tips, insights, and advice on a variety of training and performance elements, including:

  • Mental Preparation
  • Physical Fitness and Training
  • Advice from the Pros

Check out a few videos from the campaign below:

Johnnie Walker Black Helps F1 Fans Step Inside The Circuit

Johnnie Walker Black Label launched an exceptional series of online vignettes in 2011 in support of its partnership with the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes F1 team. The brand partnered with Just Marketing International to create a "Step Inside the Circuit" series that provides fans with an intimate perspective of the lives of Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, and their respective teams on and off the track.

The video series is very unique in that it was shot in black and white (correspondign with the Johnnie Walker Black Label brand) and it truly portrays the personalities and viewpoints of both Hamilton and Button. The "Step Inside the Circuit" series has been gradually released throughout the 2011 season after filming took place behind-the-sceness during 2010.

The brand is supporting the launch of the "Step Inside the Circuit" series with limited edition product packaging offering fans a chance to win unique motorsports experiences and prizes and are leveraging a tab on the brand's official Facebook page to drive awareness and buzz online.

Check out a few videos from the campaign below:

Red Bull Teams Up With Rickie Fowler To Create Capital Drive Hole-In-One Event

Red Bull teamed up with Rickie Fowler, the PGA Rookie of the Year, to create an incredible "Red Bull Capital Drive" PR stunt during the days leading up to the 2011 U.S. Open, played at the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, MD. As part of the stunt, Red Bull designed a 106-yard manmade hole in the heart of Washington DC's Historic Georgetown Waterfront and brought in Fowler to test whether he could make a hole-in-one in a populated urban setting.

With the Potomac River as a serene backdrop, Fowler successfully made a blind hole-in-one shot between two (2) five-story buildings and around one (1) fountain hazard after just a few attempts. Fowler relied on his precise accuracy to make the shot, despite swirling wind conditions and hundreds of spectators making the stunt that much more difficult.

To generate publicity for the event, Red Bull teamed up with Activ8Social to create a social media scavenger hunt in the streets of Washington D.C. that allowed golf fans a chance to "check in" at specified Foursquare locations across the city to win autographed limited edition golf balls and more. The social scavenger hunt event attracted 50+ participants

Check out a recap of Red Bull's Capital Drive event below:

Red Bull Uses a Unique F1 Event to Support Japan's Tsunami Recovery Efforts

Red Bull Hit the Streets to Energize Residents of JapanRed Bull Racing recently held a tremendous F1 event in Japan in an effort to help re-energize the country following the devastating tsunami events in March 2011.

On June 4th-5th, Red Bull Racing teamed up with driver Sebastien Buemi to host an unforgettable showcar appearance in the streets of Japan and complemented the event by raising funds for earthquake relief efforts by selling limited edition t-shirts that generated proceeds for devastated areas.

The unique Red Bull Racing events attracted a crowd of 25,000 spectators and media outlets to the Big Beach Music Festival Makuhari to see Buemi steering his powerful Formula 1 vehicle through a crowded marketplace. The event marked the first time that an F1 vehicle had been driven through the streets of Japan.

The following day, Sebastien Buemi and the Red Bull Racing team put on a thrilling display at the Yokohama Motomachi Shopping Street, where 11,000 fans witnessed a series of burnouts, turning donuts, and straightline runs first-hand. Red Bull's F1 stunt generated notable coverage throughout the country and was picked up on a number of major media outlets.

Check out the video below:

A special thanks to Yuki Suzuki of Japan for her insights and contributions to this column!

Alaska Air Partners With the Timbers To Create Hilarious Ads

Alaska Air is leveraging its designation as the Official Airline of the Portland Timbers with a series of hilarious commercials that incorporate team stakeholders. The airline's first commercial features Timbers head coach John Spencer giving seat belt instructions to passengers and the second spot features the team's iconic mascot, Timber Joey, helping a passenger with his luggage.

The ads have been very well received by soccer fans, especially amongst the Timbers' loyal following of fans. Check out the two (2) spots below and consider new ways that you can take team partnerships to the next level with a dose of humor. 

Alaska Air Commercial Featuring Timbers Head Coach John Spencer


Alaska Air Commercial Featuring Timber Joey


A special thanks to Alan Cassinelli of UC Santa Barbara Athletics for his insights and contributions to this column!

50 Ways Sports Teams Fans Can Engage Fans on Facebook

Sports leagues and organizations are turning to Facebook to offer fans more content, access, and interactivity than ever before. As sports entities begin to fully understand the value of social media, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have become critical channels in the marketing mix to promote messaging, drive participation and interest, and engage fans on a 24/7, 365 basis.

Teams can no longer rely on Wall posts, photos, and shareable videos to drive consumers to frequently visit their Facebook pages and stay for awhile. As a result, it's important that teams identify and share best practices in the social media space both internally and externally.  

Here are 50 creative ways that teams are engaging fans on Facebook outside the traditional elements:  

1. Fans Map - FC Barcelona (Find FC Barcelona fans across the world)

2. Real Madrid Avatars - Real Madrid (Fans can create their own virtual avatar)

3. Arsenal "Like the Players" - Arsenal FC (Fans can easily like all the players on the team)

4. Spread the Word - Manchester United (Fans can easily invite their friends to join the Manchester United Facebook Page  

5. Fountain Tire Shootout - Vancouver Canucks (Fans can play a virtual hockey game to win prizes and coupon vouchers)

6. 3-Point Play - Boston Celtics (Fans can compete in an interactive stats-related game to earn points)

7. Summer Salute - Team Lowe's Racing (Fans can post a military salute or message to troops overseas)

8. Polls / Quizzes - NASCAR (Fans can test their NASCAR IQ via a number of quizzes and polls)

9. NBA Ball of Fame - NBA (Fans can click on basketballs to relive famous moments from the NBA Finals)

10. NBA Turnstile - NBA (Fans can "check-in" to NBA games on Facebook to chat with fans, win tickets and merchandise, and earn badges)

11. Support Your Team on Facebook! - NFL (Fans can scroll through an interactive tab to see where their favorite team ranks in popularity and intensity amongst all teams and within conference/division).

12. Shopping - Liverpool FC (Fans can quickly scroll through ultimate shopping ideas and can get easy access to the team's mobile application) 

13. JetBlue FaceOff - Boston Bruins (Fans can access game information, play games, win prizes, and more)

14. Mavs Spirit Photo Upload - Dallas Mavericks (Fans can submit their best photo wearing Mavericks gear for the chance to have it featured on the team's Facebook page)

15. Fan Zone - New England Patriots (Fans can interact with polls, listen to live broadcasts, post comments, share virtual gifts, play trivia, and more)

16. Share Your Story - San Francisco 49ers (Fans can share why they are a Faithful Fan for the chance to be featured on 2011 season tickets or in a team commercial)

17. Tickets & Promotions - Philadelphia 76ers (Fans can closely follow current ticket specials and promotions using a tab integrated into the team Facebook page)

18. A Date with SFC - Seattle Sounders (Fans can watch video dating profiles of different players on Seattle Sounders FC and partake in a date auction via Ebay.

19. Guess the Kit - Tottenham Hotspur (Fans have to correctly guess what the team's new kit (uniform) will look like)

20. Broadcast Schedule - Portland Timbers (Fans can easily see which networks will be carrying the team's upcoming soccer matches)

21. Locker Room - Los Angeles Lakers (Fans can take a virtual tour of the Lakers locker room)

22. Flickr - Milwaukee Bucks (Fans can scroll through photos of the Bucks' gameday experience posted on their Official Flickr page)

23. U-Stream - Golden State Warriors (Fans can watch a live webcast with a Warriors player each day during Training Camp

24. - Portland Trail Blazers (Fans can watch exclusive interviews, shows, highlights, pre- and post-game shows, and more)

25. AC Milan Jersey - A.C. Milan (Fans can create their own virtual A.C. Milan Jersey (with a custom name and number) and share it on their Facebook wall)

26. Fantasy Manager - A.C. Milan (Fans can create and manage a virtual team of players and compete against friends for the chance to win team prizes)

27. Ice Dancers - Florida Panthers (Fans could vote on their favorite Ice Dancers in a bracket competition that gave away a free cruise!)

28. Stars Text Alerts - Dallas Stars (Fans can easily sign up to receive basic text alerts or student rush text alerts)

29. Leafs on YouTube - Toronto Maple Leafs (Fans can watch a series of YouTube clips directly within a tab on the team's Facebook page

30. Photo Pick-Up - Phoenix Suns (Fans can have their picture taken by Suns personnel at a game and retrieve it for free on the team's Facebook page)

31. Match of the Week - Sporting KC (Fans can receive in-depth information about a premier MLS game each week)

32. Meet the Team - Denver Nuggets (Fans can vote for their favorite players on the Nuggets by "liking" them on the interactive Facebook tab)

33. Letter to Fans - Buffalo Sabres (Fans can read a letter sent from the team's owner Terrence M. Pegula thanking them for their support)

34. Which Cap Are You Like? - Washington Capitals (Fans can take a quiz to see what Washington Capitals player they are the most like and win an autographed jersey)

35. Foursquare – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Fans can view the team’s Foursquare profile and access tips and insights on whose checked-in at Raymond James Stadium)

36. Draft Party Sweepstakes - Charlotte Bobcats (Fans can sign up on Facebook to win a VIP experience at the Bobcats Draft Party courtesy of Donatos Pizza)

37. Fan Forum – Dallas Cowboys (Fans can participate in an interactive forum where they can participate in a live discussion board)

38. Showcase – Sacramento Kings (Fans can scroll through to see all of the Kings’ hottest merchandise in their online team store up close)

39. Host UpClose Contest – Indianapolis Colts (Fans can upload a video of themselves hosting a sports segment for the chance to fly to Indianapolis and host a segment on Colts UpClose)

40. Scarf Yourself! – New York Red Bulls (Fans can add an official New York Red Bulls scarf to their profile picture and feature it on the team Facebook page)

41. Support – Atlanta Falcons (Fans can post questions/ideas/problems that they have and a Falcons customer representative addresses them for all fans to see on a live discussion board)

42. Give Your All – All Blacks (Fans can watch a series of vignettes where the All Blacks players talk about giving everything they’ve got when they enter the pitch)

43. Fan of the Week – Chicago Bears (Fans can submit a message/photo detailing why they are the biggest fan for the chance to be featured online)

44. A’s Kids Club – Oakland A’s (Fans can sign up for an Oakland A’s Kids Club Membership directly through the team’s Facebook page)

45. WTA Extra – WTA (Fans can easily scroll through high-res images of the top WTA players and also see information about their world ranking and Twitter feed)

46. Giving – Tampa Bay Rays (Fans can read about the Rays Baseball Foundation and make a donation)

47. Fanographies – Cleveland Browns (Fans can submit their Browns story for the chance to win 2011 season tickets)

48. Bulldog Club – University of Georgia Athletics (Fans can read about the Bulldog Club, make donations, invest in educational opportunities, and more)

49. Charity – PGA (Fans can read about the PGA’s new partnership with Darius Rucker and download a song which benefits PGA Tour Charities, Inc.)

50. UStream Live – Colorado Avalanche (Fans can watch broadcasts throughout the season and sign up to receive email alerts every time they take place)

The Sounders Score with a Humorous Dating Campaign

The Seattle Sounders recently teamed up a local advertising firm named Wexley School for Girls to create a brilliant marketing campaign that is generating a notable amount of buzz around the team's Official Facebook page.

The campaign, entitled "Make a Date with a Sounder", serves as a humorous marketing ploy that introduces fans to the teams' players via mock dating profiles. The campaign features outdoor billboards, TV and radio spots, personal ads in newspapers (under the headline "Sounders Seeking Fans"), video dating profiles on Facebook, and more.

The heart of the "Make a Date with a Sounder" campaign will live on Facebook:

  • Six (6) Sounders players feature video dating profiles where they discuss their best qualities, hometowns, pets, hobbies, appearances, and more
  • Several Outtakes
  • Links to an Ebay site where fans can bid on a "Date with a Sounder", with proceeds benefiting five (5) of the Sounders' charity partners
  • Facebook ads will provide a list of dates and make-a-date links that drive fans directly to ticket sites

Check out an example of the Sounders players' video dating profiles below:

Check out the "Make a Date with a Sounder" campaign on the Sounders' Facebook page below:

LeBron James Takes Fans Behind-the-Scenes During the NBA Finals

Social media serves as an effective means for athletes to build their brands, provide fans with unique access points, and no longer need to rely on traditional media outlets to gain exposure and gain noteriety throughout the year.

While most athletes turn to social media periodically to engage with fans, few have leveraged the channel to provide fans with behind-the-scenes perspectives and insights throughout an entire playoff series or season. In the past few months, LeBron James has emerged as a leader in the space, providing fans with an inside look at his gear, style, and meals throughout the season and 2011 NBA Finals.

James and a collection of his personal assistants have turned to YouTube and his site,, to film a series of low-budget vignettes that share with fans what items are in his practice bag, what outfits he plans to wear during post-game press conferences, and what meals he prefers to devour to get ready for big games.

As James' off-the-court virals continue to gain noteriety online, they will serve as a perfect means to incorporate product placement and corporate partner integration (e.g. what cars LeBron drives, what electronics/technology he uses, what music/movies he enjoys, etc.), and will build new followers along the way.

Check out some recent examples of LeBron's off-the-court virals below, which were all recorded specifically for the 2011 NBA Finals:  

LeBron's Practice Bag (Finals Edition)

LeBron's Closet (2011 Finals Edition)

Cookin' with the King (Finals Edition, Game 1)

The NBA Strikes Gold with a Mini Movie Series

In recent years, the National Basketball Association (NBA) has done a remarkable job producing a series of mini movies that truly magnify the league's biggest games and events of the season. Each of the mini movies provide fans with an all-access look that creates an elevated sense of excitement, drama, and star power.

The NBA's mini movies have been very well received in the online community. The league's NBA Finals Game 1 mini movie attracted 215K+ views in just two (2) days and the 2011 NBA All-Star Game mini movie attracted nearly 750K impresssions.

It would be great to see more leagues and major events replicate the NBA's mini movie concept - notably the NCAA. There is so much drama and excitement surrounding March Madness and the BCS Bowl Games that it would be great to see more of the behind-the-scenes happenings first hand.

Check out a breakdown of some of the NBA's mini movies below:




Chelsea FC Showcases Its UEFA Champions League Preparations

Chelsea FC recently created a terrific video that showcases all of the work that goes in to hosting a UEFA Champions League Game at Stamford Bridge. The video takes viewers behind-the-scenes to all of the steps it takes to get their facility ready from a branding and execution standpoint.

The video shows employees bringing in field boards and related signage, hanging banners and static signage, finalizing hospitality and press displays, and ensuring that the proper jerseys, game ball, and music are used during the match.

The video is very insightful - check it out below!