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