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3 Tips for Creating Branded Content with Athletes

3 Tips for Creating Branded Content with Athletes

With all the new sports podcasts and docuseries installments -- “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” “Hard Knocks” "30 For 30,” ...we are in a golden age for sports fans. The only thing missing is a filmed sequel for “The Last Dance.” 
The trend of following the lives of athletes off the field, is here to stay. And it's a huge opportunity for marketers. 

With a bit of planning and creativity, marketers can help reveal more authentic, entertaining stories. The key is to be willing to play a supporting role, using tactics like brand integrations or product placement. 

For example: In early 2020, Topgolf rolled out the red carpet and hosted the Los Angeles Angels and Dodgers for a charity event. After the event, TopGolf, the charity and the Angels tweeted an 18 second video of Mike Trout absolutely crushing a drive over the TopGolf fence, and his fellow Major League Baseball stars raucously celebrating the feat. Remember this? 
It had 12M views on YouTube, millions more across MLB, ESPN, etc. Engagement was off the charts. And everyone learned what TopGolf was all about. 

TIP 1: THINK 'FISH OUT OF WATER' 
Get your athlete(s) out of the world of their sport, where film rights are often an issue anyway. Sponsor an activity that somehow connects with your brand; a hobby, leisure pursuit or other type of entertainment. 
Fish out of water works because surprise is the secret to great storytelling. And we’re usually surprised by athletes’ personal interests. They become surprisingly human; vulnerable and authentic.  

TIP 2: LET THE GAMES BEGIN 
Provide a context for your athlete where some sort of competition is possible. Pro athletes are naturally hyper competitive. They’ll find a way to compete in their leisure time. 
Competition engages viewers because conflict and drama are critical to building suspense. If there are no stakes, we aren’t emotionally invested.  

TIP 3: PUT THE ATHLETE(S) COMFORTABLY IN CONTROL 
Resist the urge to script or require endorsement language about your brand. Don’t force an elaborate set up or scenario. Just make sure your brand ID is visible. 
This works because of the reciprocity principle. When marketers show athletes trust and respect, they get it back. And when athletes are having fun, they’ll want to share the experience. #brandedcontent #influencermarketing #storytelling #sportsmarketing #productplacement #brandbuilding

The Reports of Abercrombie & Fitch's Death are Greatly Exaggerated

The Reports of Abercrombie & Fitch's Death are Greatly Exaggerated

Netflix is about to release “White Hot: The Rise and Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch.” In reality, the brand is flourishing with smart Gen Z marketing.

Netflix:  “All the cool kids were wearing it. This documentary explores A&F’s pop culture reign in the late ’90s and early 2000s and how it thrived on exclusion.”

If you worked in marketing back then, perhaps you’ll recall that the company discriminated based on religion and race. And there were other terrible marketing decisions that led to the CEO’s exit in 2014.

But the “Rise and Fall” title is an unfair smear on Abercrombie & Fitch’s *current* management team. They actually deserve credit. For example:

The brand never crashed. Even during the management transition, revenue never dipped below the $3B to $4B range.

And now the company is arguably stronger than ever. Sales rose by 19% to $3.7B in 2021. The stock gains are beating competitors.

Management has overhauled the culture.  In recent years, the company has won awards for DEI initiatives.  It was named by Fortune, as a 2021 Best Workplace in Retail.

Lastly, and perhaps its most impressive feat: the brand is winning with Gen Z.  For example:

Creating comfortable apparel with guidance from consumer qualitative research

Plenty of apparel brands avoid formal research projects.  A&F on the other hand, has clearly been paying attention to Gen Z’s demand for comfort. And delivering.

Last month, A&F launched YPB, (“Your Personal Best”) an activewear sub brand.  According to a press release, “designers spent hundreds of hours conducting fit research on models across genders, sizes, shapes and heights.” YPB’s team held focus groups with customers and key fitness and lifestyle influencers, “refining designs to ensure seaming, stretch, and details like pocket angles and drawstrings could all help customers move freely and comfortably.”

Meeting Gen Z where they want to shop, via omnichannel tactics

A&F has trimmed larger stores and replaced them with smaller, more efficient stores, in more off-mall locations. Stock selection is based more in local data.

The company has also stepped up social engagement, gathering data and partnering with leading influencers on TikTok. The result has been a 45% increase in digital sales in 2021, now comprising 48% of total sales.

Bottom line: These are just some of management’s smart moves.  Expect this “fallen” brand to continue growing in 2022.

How Smart Marketing Rescued the Golf Industry

How Smart Marketing Rescued the Golf Industry

...But perhaps most important of all, golf marketers started telling a different story about the game:  Instead of telling us that we should look and play like the pros, they started inviting golfers to spend time with friends and just be themselves. For Example...