IMG Sports Marketing Symposium: Fan Experience A Big Focus For Companies
Today's panel titled "The U.S. Sports Sponsorship Marketplace: Where Is The Growth and Innovation?" focused heavily on developing ways to create new and differentiated experiences for fans, particularly at event sites, in partnership with sponsors. American Express VP/Sports Marketing, Access Strategy & Planning Alex Chang said, "We're always about creating a differentiated experience for fans. In the digital space, though it is harder, and creating a 'velvet rope' is definitely more difficult, particularly given how information is so abundant." Ravens VP/National Sales & Partnerships Kevin Rochlitz discussed how the team boosted fan elements such as town hall-style chats with club owner Steve Bisciotti. Rochlitz: "These kinds of things are big for the fans, and irreplaceable. And our training facility [in Owings Mills, Md.] is a big part of this, too." The evergreen sponsorship issues of measurement and return-on-investment also were discussed in depth. Audience member polling showed that three-fourths of attendees believe the sports industry still does a poor job measuring the efficacy of sponsorships. PepsiCo Senior VP/Global Sports Marketing Jennifer Storms said, "The responsibility [for measurement] lies with both the brand and the property. As a brand you can't rely on the property to tell you about your brand. But they also know that fan the best. It has to be both sides, a partnership." Storms added that data mining, now heavily in vogue across the industry, cannot be an open, unfettered exercise. "You have to tie it to a specific objective. For us, it's less about 'getting lists' than working with somebody and providing a targeted enhancement to a specific fan experience. People will then see the offers coming in as a relevant communication with the brand."