Brands must be “smarter than ever” in landing their messages on digital platforms during the global Covid-19 crisis, according to a sports consultancy head.
Robin Fenwick, founder and chief executive of sports consultancy, Right Formula, told SportBusiness: “Over the past few years, brands invested in sports and entertainment partnerships have naturally gravitated towards digital marketing regardless of the economic environment.”
This is principally “because it’s cost effective, easily analysed and largely the way we are consuming most of our daily information.”
In the current crisis, Fenwick said that he has witnessed many more brands turning to digital activation in order to obtain value. However, the mass of information on the pandemic makes it more difficult for them to communicate their sponsorships organically to their customers through social media platforms.
He noted: “Understandably, at this time the Covid-19 pandemic is flooding our social media feeds. We click on the news that is most important or interesting to us, which the algorithms on social platforms pick up on, and as a result, provide us with more information on the same topic, in this case Covid-19.”
Given the current circumstances, Fenwick argues that “a paid media strategy is essential to obtain the cut through required”.
Fenwick said his digital team is busier than ever, with recent work including digital campaigns for SAP and Genpact in Formula E, as well as Kia Motors’ sponsorship of the Uefa Europa League. Right Formula is also working with athletes such as Rio 2016 Olympic champion cyclist Callum Skinner, who fronts competitor-led movement Global Athlete, and Paralympic silver medallist Ali Jawad to grow their fanbases and generate positive digital PR.
The agency has shifted the focus to creative work, digital content, broad communications and esports, with some employees on the event side being redeployed to these areas where skill sets allow.
Fenwick has put further resources into the esports division, which helped create an owned tournament, the Logitech G Challenge as part of the brand’s sponsorship of McLaren F1, where sim racers compete via a range of regional competitions and then a global final. This previously included physical events, but Fenwick suggested that “there’s no reason these could not be entirely virtual”.
He continued: “Whilst already on rise, Covid-19 is only going strengthen esports’ position in the future. It is one of the few sports that can continue during ‘lockdown’, so more individuals are either trying it for the first time or dedicating more time to it. As the sport grows in stature, it will attract a number of brands who were perhaps already curious.”
With regards to new business at this time, Fenwick said: “Conversations are still happening and, in some respects, we’re getting a better response [from brands] because individuals have more bandwidth, and are interested to explore the potential during this quiet period.
“We are not seeing commitments yet, which is understandable; but brands might as well position themselves so they are ready to press the button at the right time; realistically most partnerships will take at least three to six months to negotiate anyway.”
Fenwick added that he hopes the current stasis in sport lasts no more than three months, but is preparing his clients for the “best case, worst case and everything in between”.