We’ve watched with awe over the past few years as interactive brand activations have grown bigger, better, and more impressive season after season. Today, every major sport boasts its share of big budget brand activations. Major brands make huge investments to capture a share of the large crowds that turn out to watch live sporting events and even the bigger audiences who watch live broadcasts on television and the internet.
Brand activations have become such a spectacle, that in 2017 it’s easy to lose sight of the bottom line. No matter how big or impressive an activation may be, it’s only truly effective to the degree that it provides hard, actionable data and measurable results. Those are the factors that we used to build the list below, which features 5 recent brand activations that generated serious ROI for the brands who produced them. We also chose examples from several different sports to show the range of options that are available to resourceful brands today.
#5 – Samsung on the Green
At the 2016 PGA Championship, Samsung rolled out a collection of interactive brand activations in a tent just across from the 17th hole at Baltusrol Golf Club. The tent allowed fans to stroll inside for a first-hand look at all of Samsung’s latest products – including smartphones, tablets, televisions – with side-by-side product comparisons to some of their biggest competitors.
They created the largest curved TV wall ever made, where fans could take a seat to watch tournament action inside the comfort of the air-conditioned tent. A section of the tent was filled with noise- and light-cancelling VR chairs, where fans had the opportunity to experience Samsung Gear VR headsets featuring a golf-centric demo. A social wall displayed guests’ posts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. And PGA star Zach Johnson made an appearance to sign autographs, pose for pictures, and speak to the crowd.
But the display that stole the show was the Samsung Hole in 360 – a mixed-reality game where participants wore a VR headset while they took a real-life swing on a synthetic grass surface. After their swing, guests were transported to the sky for an aerial view of their shot as it approached the hole. And a few lucky guests scored a hole in one. The corresponding #samsungonthegreen hashtag generated 13.9 million social impressions, and more than $67,000 worth of Samsung products were sold onsite.
#4 – American Express – You vs. Sharapova
American Express has a long history as a top sponsor for the US Open. But in 2015, they focused their promotional efforts on an interactive experience that fans are still talking about years later. Maria Sharapova was the star of the show. She spent hours in a studio capturing live action video against a green screen and wearing motion tracking sensors to perfect her virtual reality presence.
At the activation, fans were invited to wear a VR headset and hold a custom controller that was weighted to feel like a real tennis racket. After a friendly back-and-forth, participants got set behind the base line to see if they could return a precisely simulated version of Sharapova’s famous 102 mile-per-hour serve. The fact that few fans could even make contact with her serves was a testament to the experience’s authentic presentation.
You vs. Sharapova serves as a classic case study for interactive brand activations today, and with good reason. The promotion is estimated to have generated more than 1 billion unique media impressions around the world.
#3 – Chevy MLB All-Star Playground
Chevy took advantage of their long-standing relationship with Major League Baseball to make a big improvement to their brand image with their MLB All-Star Playground at Petco Park in San Diego in 2016. They successfully updated their brand perception by showing that baseball is still a game for kids.
The activation was designed to provide something fun for fans of all ages, while placing a specific and pronounced emphasis on kids. Kids received one-on-one coaching instruction from big leaguers at the Chevy Mini Clinic. Chevy gave a kids’ press pass to several young fans and invited them to conduct personal interviews with several all-star players and even Commissioner Rob Manfred. Little league players led the red-carpet parade before the big game, and some were invited onto the field to catch fly balls during the official homerun derby.
The event created more than 150,000 social impressions. And Chevy demonstrated that they were successful in updating their brand image when surveys showed that 87% of fans agreed that Chevy was a more progressive brand. In the wake of these brand activations, Chevy showed double digit increases in opinions of their brand (18%) and consideration of their brand for buying decision (17%). In San Diego, Chevy picked up a full percentage point of local market share.
#2 – Adidas’ D. Rose Jump Store
In one of the best ever demonstrations of a pop-up store, Adidas created this activation in East London to showcase their sponsored NBA star Derrick Rose. Rose was quickly becoming an urban icon when Adidas produced this brand activation in 2013. To capitalize on his stardom, Adidas put him in the spotlight amongst his fans – and created an unforgettable event that was as shareable as anything else we’ve seen.
Hundreds of pairs of Rose’s signature Adidas shoes were lined up on a shelf by size. The catch? The shelf was positioned exactly 10 feet high. Participants were given 24 seconds to jump up and try to claim a pair for themselves. Many fans couldn’t reach, but the dedicated street basketball players who showed up easily plucked themselves a new pair. And everyone in attendance had a chance to get up close and personal with Derrick Rose, who was there cheering on the fans as they jumped their highest.
This activation is especially unique because it had zero media budget. The event was only promoted locally with posters, flyers, and one online video. Instead of paying for media, Adidas created about $2.5 million in free media coverage. And it’s estimated that coverage of the event touched more than 4 million people over 10 days – making this one of the most effective low-budget brand activations in recent memory.
#1 – The Intel Drone Swarm at Super Bowl LI
While drone swarms might not sound like the most pleasant thing, Intel succeeded in making them the star of the show at Super Bowl LI in Houston – eclipsing even headliner Lady Gaga in media exposure and social buzz. Intel’s drones put on an unforgettable light show, creating an animated American flag that floated high above the walls of NRG Stadium.
For many fans, this was their first exposure to this kind of technology. They watched, captivated, as the 300 floating lights changed formation to reveal Intel’s logo, painted in the sky. An estimated 117.5 million people watched the show live. And there were 5.1 million Tweets about the half-time show, during the half-time show. The instant and ongoing buzz made this one of the most shareable brand activations we’ve seen.
Launch Your Own Interactive Brand Activations Today
If your brand needs to create impressive and memorable brand activations at major sporting events, get in touch with TGSM today. Our interactive tailgating trailers offer brands an instant activation that can be easily deployed at any event, in almost any location. Our integrated technology captures actionable data about the most desirable demographics, and you’ll see the impact on social media right away. Our solutions are instant, flexible, and affordable. You won’t find a better way to generate ROI on your budget for brand activations.