May 06, 2020 at 12:00 AM
written by

Seven Ways Sponsors Can Activate Without Fans in the Stands

It seems more and more likely that the clearest path back to the live events we love includes at least a temporary period of playing in front of empty stadiums. From sports to virtual music festivals, major properties are creating contingency plans will limit live attendance, but that doesn't mean sponsors have to stop activating. To the contrary, it will be more important than ever for properties and their sponsors to adapt and innovate activation strategies on the fly to meet the changing landscape of the event experience. Here are a few activations that sponsors can use to play an active role in rethinking the events they support in light of COVID-19.

E-Sports - The live sports void is manifesting itself in many unique ways. One of the trends that we hope will last long after Coronavirus is cured is seeing more top athletes playing e-sports alongside fans. Whether it's the NBA 2K Players Tournament or the Mario Tennis Stay at Home Slam, sponsor integration in these live tournaments is a great way to evolve activation in a lockdown.

Replays - Broadcasters are innovating unique ways to repurpose old game replays with a new twist on the commentating. In the absence of live sports, there is renewed interest in replays of iconic games. Telecom sponsors could look to let the players that were involved in those games dial-in from home to give inside baseball insights to what they were thinking during the replay broadcast.

Sims - Whether you liked the Virtual Kentucky Derby or though it was creepy, high tech sims offer a unique twist during empty broadcast slots, endless sponsor integrations and a way for betting partners to promote action even in the absence of live sports.

Zooms - Sponsors are arranging athlete and celebrity Zooms with fan groups to maintain community engagement during the lockdown. Some athletes are even popping in unexpected to fan Zooms bringing a nice surprise for fans.

Virtual Fans - There may be no butts in the seats, but there could be cardboard cut-outs. Local printing partners could jump in to support this type of activation for fan-less stadiums or for broadcast, new technologies could play a key role in helping real fans appear in in broadcasts.

Sponsored Face Masks - While healthcare sponsors aren't typically known for the most innovative sponsorship activations, the need for face masks in stadiums, both among talent and attendees, could be a huge opportunity for partners to fill a new, highly-visible and mission critical need for events. When NASCAR resumes, the organization will require masks for all drivers and allow sponsor logos on PPE.

Ad Tarps - Empty seats are never a great look. While we’re used to seeing tarps cover the nosebleed seats in some stadiums, with Covid-19 even the best seats at the most high-demand stadiums will remain vacant for the time being. Empty seats behind home plate and along the baselines can be turned into high profile sponsorship inventory with the use of tarp advertising