Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Change your light bulbs. Turn off the water faucet. Be eco-friendly. Buy local. Ok, we get it. People, and companies, should be environmentally responsible. Green is everywhere, but trying to jam green into sports sponsorship?
Enough is enough, right?
Well, consider this—a platform is a platform, no matter what color it is. As long as it provides ample opportunity for activation, engagement and integrated messaging, it’s a viable option, right? Oh yeah—and it of course has to be relevant and compelling enough to be worthy of a fan’s attention.
The fact that engaging fans in the context of sustainability seems an
unlikely prospect means the field is currently wide open, waiting for
someone to step in and own it. Many teams have already greened up their
stadiums and arenas and are now looking to extend their commitment outward,
and are always interested in new ways to monetize their fan base.
So how would it work? Ok, for sake of example, let’s consider Fans Without
Footprints, a (and as far as we know, the only) custom green fan engagement
program for teams and sponsors.
The premise of the program is built around rewarding fans for green behavior, recycling, interacting with sponsors and contributions to local environmental projects.
Rewards can include unique fan experiences, meet & greets, ticket
discounts/upgrades, preferred parking, game day prizes, brand offers/discounts, team/brand merchandise, etc.
Let’s see how it delivers against the buzz words:
Branded interactive recycling kiosks that issue
rewards, game day prizes, brand discounts/offers. Brand ambassadors
registering fans and educating them on green behavior.
Competition among fans and versus fans of other teams
to accumulate points/rewards based on behavior and brand interaction.
Promoted via social media and tracked via custom branded web interface.
Custom micro sites on team/sponsor sites also promote program.
Outreach promotes participation to all fans and alerts
them to activities planned in-stadium, at retail and online and serves as
content platform for green fan tips, brand’s green story, etc.
Retail displays promote program and fans can be
driven into stores as part of custom promotion
Scoreboard and PA announcements promote program, encourage
participation and celebrate sponsor’s green initiatives
Promotional vignettes celebrate program and benefits for fan,
community, environment and platform for sponsor to tell their green story
Local environmental project is beneficiary of sponsor, team
and fan $$ contributions and platform for volunteer activities with
Strategic alignment with the most important issue of
our time—the environment—is a big PR win for all
As you can see, the execution of the program is not necessarily unique, and
the fact that the program happens to be green and benefits the environment
is secondary. It provides robust activation opportunities, can be the basis
of a fully integrated messaging campaign and engages fans through rewards
and by hitting them where they live—right in their own community.
But what green does give you is a compelling messaging and rewards platform
that benefits the community and has potential to impact a fan’s lifestyle at
the stadium and at home. There are enough different topics—tailgating,
transportation, energy use, food choices, water use, etc–to keep the
messaging fresh and relevant for an on-going campaign.
The green wave has already begun to wash over the world of sports, and the
next frontier is fan engagement. This is one of those rare opportunities for
a brand to exercise first mover advantage.
Walter Ife & Harry Groome are the creators of Fans Without Footprints. They’re passionate about sports and the environment and lay awake at night dreaming up other ways to integrate both to add value for fans and brands.