The Brand-Fan Challenge
In an era of binge-watching and multi-tasking, live sporting events offer brands an increasingly rare commodity: a captive audience. Well, it's a somewhat captive audience. Whether watching a game at home or in the arena, some consumers seem to carry a plethora of entertainment options in their pockets, including their chosen arsenal of social media platforms. So, for the astute sponsor, visibility alone isn't gonna cut it.1
To demonstrate this point, we wanted to examine a high-profile example. Consider this a mini-case study in how well traditional sports sponsorships translate into fan engagement online.
H-E-B and the San Antonio Spurs
Based on the tried-and-true, scientifically-sound methodology of watching games, with a little photo review the morning after, H-E-B was among the highly-visible sponsors during game 2 of the OKC - Spurs series (held at the San Antonio AT&T Center).2
The H-E-B/Spurs relationship isn't a one-off “playoff special”— they're the brand equivalent of long-time season-ticket holders, and with pretty good seats to boot.
But what do their customers think about all this? Do the Twitter followers of a supermarket chain want to hear about the San-Antonio-portion of the NBA Texas triangle?
A Twitter Pseudo-Study
Though the volume of Spurs-related tweets from H-E-B was low (12 of the 115), they were among its most engaging content, occupying the #1 and #2 spots for both
retweetCount. It would certainly seem that at least some of H-E-B's social media followers are “fellow” Spurs fans.
The wait is over! Find all of the @Spurs commercials at https://t.co/KhQMqcFyXs, and vote for your favorite! pic.twitter.com/wqwOOucxTw— H-E-B (@HEB) October 31, 2015
Check out this behind-the-scenes sneak peek from our shoot today with your favorite @Spurs players! #GoSpursGo pic.twitter.com/Q6XWuDaf02— H-E-B (@HEB) October 6, 2015
This, of course, is not the whole story, and in Part II we'll take a closer look at some of the other interests of the @HEB follower-base. As the Spurs continue to duke it out with the Thunder, the conversation will only get louder. H-E-B's successful follower engagement with Spurs-related content is an example of how franchise sponsors can engage sports fans, even when their team isn't on the court.
Jensen, J. A., Walsh, P., Cobbs, J., & Turner, B. A. (2015). The Effects of Second Screen Use on Sponsor Brand Awareness: A Dual Coding Theory Perspective. To appear in Journal of Consumer Marketing, 32. ↩