In basketball, pivoting is as fundamental as a chest pass or a layup. At the end of the game when it matters most, a simple pivot can be the difference between a win and a loss. You have the ball, the clock is ticking and two defenders are closing in – what do you do? You keep the ball close, plant one foot and pivot to split the defense and find the right opening. Without pivoting, you get trapped. Without pivoting, you can go from offense to defense in an instant. A simple pivot can change everything.
Seventeen years ago, I pivoted away from one of the world’s largest marketing and rights holder firms to start rEvolution, an independent, premier sports marketing agency. A global leader in the industry, rEvolution is focused on providing brands the best integrated marketing and media services for the purpose of helping them strengthen customer relationships. Communication through sport is our passion.
But why sports? Because of the fans.
In essence, we connect brands with fans of sport. Fans are tribal, therefore, they physically, mentally and emotionally embody their chosen sports team – think the overflowing collections of hoodies and hats, the hours invested in games and commentary and the unwavering loyalty and passion. They stand by their tribe through it all – euphoric highs, heartbreaking lows and tedious mediocrity.
As the U.S. sports market continues to dominate with large live-viewership numbers, growing media rights and booming investment, sponsors have the unique opportunity to align themselves with the right league, team or player and, therefore, authentically appeal to its associated tribe of fans. Sponsors must take a strategic approach from multiple perspectives or be left stranded. They can’t just slap a logo onto a NASCAR and call it a sports marketing success – fans either won’t notice or will see right through it and avoid engagement.
In addition to intimately knowing their target audience, sponsors must also thoroughly understand the constantly evolving sports industry: mass consolidation of digital media and TV, popularity of global peer-to-peer social interactions, generational shifts in consumer habits and fragmented audiences in response to personalized entertainment options. Many only focus on one or two aspects of the industry, but trends shift quickly. In other words, they’ve picked up their dribble only to find a double team fast approaching. The original play is compromised and the best path to the basket is unclear.
It’s time to pivot.
While the sports industry continues to change, rEvolution’s unique perspective has endured – an effective agency partner must employ experts across all services to navigate the ever-changing industry landscape for their clients. If you just specialize in event services but interest in event services dries up, what do you do? If you just do an NFL sponsorship but sponsors back away from the NFL, where do you turn?
rEvolution employs experts not just across different sports platforms but also across different service offerings. Strategy, Consulting & Research gives brands an idea of which tribes they should seek based on consumer data; Marketing Communications identifies and executes a strategy; Hospitality and Event Services intimately engage people; and Media Buying & Planning hyper-targets the most receptive audience for a brand’s message. From here, rEvolution can draft a championship team that directly addresses a client’s specific needs and authentically engages the right consumer.
Building this integrated business model continues to be rEvolution’s growth pivot—it made us game changers and rapidly carried us to the top of the industry.
A prime example is the work we do with Continental Tire and its multi-layered MLS partnership as one of the longest-standing league sponsors and the Official Tire of the league and every MLS team. Through targeted in-game advertisements featuring American soccer star Alexi Lalas, creative field signage and on-site tailgating events, Continental Tire amplifies positive brand recognition with MLS fans that over time has turned into brand affinity as a top-five most recognized sponsor— an unusual feat for a non-endemic sport sponsor. Continental Tire successfully earned its tribe membership, proving its loyalty and passion for MLS and its fans. This long-term play, consisting of mini campaigns and activations, creates a genuine thread that has been woven into the league’s fabric and has made it a vital member of the U.S. soccer landscape.
rEvolution remains an independent sports marketing agency that continues to grow because we’ve proven ourselves a very effective, results-driven brand partner. As passionate sports fans ourselves, we know how to thrive and grow business in this ebbing and flowing industry, because we can turn dials for our clients in real-time, quickly pulling in the right expert teammates to pivot to a game plan better suited to shifting consumer interests.
We’re all going to pick up our dribble at some point on our way to the rim—sometimes by design, other times because the play doesn’t go as planned. Some will get trapped and commit a costly turnover. With rEvolution, our partners are equipped with an understanding of their desired audience, platform and integrated approach to simply pivot out of the trap, continue the play and score.