It’s game day.
Three words that contain just enough hype to make every football fan wake up on the right side of the bed. You go about your business for the day because let’s face it, you still have things to do. But you do them with a little more pep in your step. You can’t help but look at your watch periodically, counting down the hours, minutes, and seconds until kickoff. You don’t even have to be in the stands watching it happen live to feel the rush of adrenaline as one team lines up to kick.
The excitement isn’t purely manufactured, though. It’s easy to live on the edge of your seat for a sport where big plays, long gains, and momentum-swinging touchdowns can always happen in the blink of an eye. Still, the more you look around you, the more you see evidence of the Patriots and NFL’s multi-touch point marketing strategies.
The New England Patriots, for instance, have employed a popular saying of head coach Bill Belichick during his 16-year long reign: Do Your Job. The slogan has become so popular that the NFL allowed a documentary of the Pats’ 2014 Super Bowl win to use it as the title. It appeared everywhere during that year’s post season run – on social media, on memorabilia, and on paraphernalia in digital storefronts across the nation. Just as the players wearing the silver, red, and navy were expected to do their jobs at their respective positions, fans were expected to do their job by being as loyal and supportive as ever. And boy, did those fans do it: Jessica Gelman, vice president of customer marketing and retail strategy compared the retail success of the slogan to “lightning in a bottle.”
Unfortunately for the Pats, the slogan was appropriated by the Democratic Party when they took aim at the GOP-controlled U.S. senate in March of 2016. Still, the impact that the saying has had on the Patriots’ locker-room and fan culture is likely to live on for as long as we can see into the future.
But the NFL isn’t the only league with teams that employs sports marketing to hype up fans. While the Pats were prepping for more championship runs, the Boston Celtics were knee guard-deep in a rebuilding process. In 2014, they were still dealing with the aftermath of a mega-trade that sent local favorites and NBA champions Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets. The transition period was rocky, as any true Celtics fan would remember; It must have been tough for the organization’s marketing team to sell the Celtics brand when two of its biggest brand ambassadors no longer wore shamrock green. The solution they came up with leveraged the culture of the Boston Celtics, which was and still is larger than any one player. New spots under the theme “Green Runs Deep” would routinely play on Comcast Sports Net New England after timeouts during the 2014-2015 NBA season. The storybook-like copy was as poetic as it was unifying, stating emphatically “No matter the name on the jersey – ever green.”
One year later, Allen & Gerritsen were contracted to update the campaign while still keeping #GreenRunsDeep as the team’s official rally cry. Their work utilized “game footage projected on the players against a gritty background” to reflect “the passion and intensity every player will bring to each and every game.”
The Celtics began their 2016 season on October 26th, but it’s clear that they are moving in a different direction this year. Debuting two :15 spots one after another during the first timeout, it seems that the storied franchise is going with #ItsNotLuck as their new hype slogan. It will be interesting to see how the phrase evolves over time, but there’s no denying how dynamic their first few executions are.
Good sports marketing is what links players, coaches, staff, media personnel, and fans. Again and again, studies have shown that human beings need to feel like they’re a part of something bigger than themselves to truly feel alive. Sports are our escape into a world of our own colors and excitement. We truly believe that if we scream louder, shout longer, or stomp our feet harder that we will affect the game in some way. Marketing fans the flames of passion and keeps the current of energy flowing from game day to game day.