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After attending the “big game” or a major sporting event like the College Football Playoff, many a fan will say, “You should have been there,” as they reminisce on the often once-in-a-lifetime experience. The action, however, is not confined within the stadium. Sponsors can be major players and create activations that elevate these moments.

From selfie stations to sampling, brands aim to showcase innovation while capitalizing on fans’ fervor for attending these events. This type of experiential marketing is one of the best forms of brand-to-fan engagement in today’s landscape where consumers are craving experiences over things. Playing at this level does come with a significant investment, not only in the initial rights fee but also in a commitment to activate.

After being on-site at the College Football Playoff, there were clearly some brands that did it right and some that struggled to stand out from the pack. Here are our top three takeaways from those brands that stood out:

        1. Tying the activation to the sport
          Northwestern Mutual*, CFP’s insurance partner, is admittedly challenged when it comes to tying itself to football as it lacks an endemic association to the sport. However, Northwestern Mutual added value by creating a touchdown dance experience that allowed guests to share their celebration on social channels. By also sponsoring information kiosks, the brand garnered stronger visibility and positioned itself as a helpful resource for fans.
          *Northwestern Mutual is a rEvolution client.
        2. Creating multiple touch points with fans
          With Chick-fil-A headquartered in Atlanta where the CFP was played, it already had strong visibility within the market. In addition to several food stands stationed throughout the Fan Fest and Game Day experiences, Chick-fil-A created a lounge area in the Fan Fest where guests could mingle. Not only did this activation help to create awareness and purchase opportunities for fans, it also gave a touch point with guests when Chick-fil-A locations were closed on Sunday.
        3. Thinking beyond the signage (and booth) to amplify the partnership with strong creative/campaigns
          While Dr Pepper’s on-site footprint focused on photo and sampling opportunities, it also had strong awareness as a CFP partner. Through its creative commercials featuring Larry Culpepper, its Tuition Challenge content, and as the presenting sponsor of the National Championship trophy, this multi-level investment gave the partnership life outside of the activation zone.In short, as a brand, you want to have purpose and intent with your activation.

        If you don’t have strong differentiation or bring value to the fans, you will be lost in the crowd.

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        What is the power of brand-to-fan engagement via live events? To learn more click here.