From Goodyear airships to the Pepsi Veranda on New York Mets’ Citi Field to the Nike Swoosh emblazoned on the bodies of elite athletes around the world, sports marketing has long been the job of consumer brands. But it seems more and more as if business-to-business marketers are joining the competition for the hearts and wallets of sports fans. Whether providers of medical devices, IT services or insurance for small companies, new B2B players are upgrading and conquering the field. As part of The Drum’s Sports Marketing Deep Dive, we’ll find out why.
Athletes have only trained for the chance to step foot on an Olympic field their entire lives. Now that the games are less than three weeks away, the last thing they want to do is sign Covid. For this reason, the medical technology manufacturer BD and the USA Olympic Track and Field (UASTF) decided on a partnership and a new documentary film. “BD on location” is a new series from a business-to-business (B2B) company that is not known for sports marketing.
BD is joining an increasing number of B2B companies competing more like consumer brands in the sports space to better connect with their customers. At the Olympic Games, for example, there is Intel, Dow Chemical, Atos, General Electric and Allianz – all with large sponsorships and large B2B departments.
The BD Veritor Plus System, which provides quick results for Covid, Flu and other viruses, is primarily aimed at schools, hospitals, emergency centers and hospitals. “However, the expectations and needs of our customers have changed,” says BD chief marketer Tony Ezell. “Covid-19 resulted in a change that resulted in BD’s marketing communications strategy being shifted more towards the consumer space as our actions became more prominent due to the public health crisis. It’s new to BD and new to the industry, but we know we need to be more direct with consumers and businesses. “
Whether medical devices or insurance for small businesses, B2B companies use sport to tell their often complex stories more easily and comprehensibly. Sentry Insurance, for example, signed its first major sports sponsorship in its 115-year history when it partnered with the Professional Golf Association. The five-year contract puts the brand in front of its target group if it is more responsive to brand messages.
“It’s not just the interest in golf that we’re tapping into. We also use the role that golf plays in the lives of our viewers, ”says Amanda Schuneman, Brand Strategy Director, Gyro – the agency responsible for Sentry’s“ Right by You ”advertising campaign. “After all, golf is an arena where spectators and players can merge their professional and private lives. You can discuss business in the course. And they can connect more directly with others who watch and play golf. So for Sentry, which has been with its customers for more than 115 years, golf is a natural extension of the brand. Our sponsorship of the PGA Tour and USGA not only familiarizes viewers with the Sentry brand, but also enables us to spend valuable time with our customers and business partners to build and strengthen relationships. “
More human, more exciting, more engaging
Tata Consultancy Services, a leading global provider of IT services, consulting and business solutions, regularly engages in sports to humanize its brand. “By focusing on sports sponsorship, we can build on people’s passion for sport and at the same time use their power as a global club,” says Michelle Taylor, Tata’s Head of Global Sports and Sponsorships. “These platforms also allow us to showcase our company’s breakthrough technology, which ultimately acts as a catalyst to strengthen our brand and business relationships. The best way to optimize this sponsorship is to make sure that the sport or sports you choose authentically fit your business and are an integral part of your personality and beliefs. At TCS, we will continue to make these investments because we believe in sport can have a significant impact on the lives of individuals and our communities. ”
Then there’s the simple fact that exercise is exciting and B2B brands are often not. “We encourage our B2B customers to view sports partnerships as a platform to simplify complex customer functions through easily understandable sports analogies, to highlight common values between brand and sports partner – such as decision-makers on an emotional level, which are rarely found in other parts of the marketing mix says Brad Silver, director of the Ogilvy Sports Network.
For BD, the USATF is positive evidence of the effectiveness of their product and the benefits to the end user and humanity at large. Says Ezell, “What better way to show how Covid has challenged everyone from business leaders to professional athletes than to show how we have worked with organizations to make the return to work – or on track.” to return.”
Check out The Drum’s sports marketing hub to learn more about how connecting with sports can help the marketing industry achieve long-term success. And don’t forget to sign up for The Drum’s daily US newsletter here.