Author: Ken Ungar
(Part 2 in a series of articles about the sponsorship industry in crisis)
We face a health crisis. It will significantly disrupt the way we live. With its close natural tie to sports, the sponsorship industry felt the early sting of event postponement and cancellations. As millions hunker down in their homes facing self-isolation, self-quarantine or lockdown, everyone ponders “what’s next?”
In our first article about our industry in crisis, we recommended a very direct initial approach to address the Coronavirus challenge when it comes to event postponements. Now that we’ve entered the next phase with businesses, families and friends, we have another suggestion.
Fill the void.
A friend said to me today, “No one can focus on anything but COVID-19.” Probably true. However, the current over-saturation of news is actually challenging for everyone’s mental health. To preserve our collective sanity, we’ll eventually be looking for non-COVID-19 information to keep us focused and sane. This provides sponsors and properties with an important opportunity to fill the void. The timely creation of valuable content related to a sponsorship or property can facilitate human connection at a time when we really need it.
Filling the void serves several beneficial objectives. The industry can provide much needed entertainment to consumers who deeply miss sports in their lives.
What Type of Content?
We see brands and properties working in tandem to create and distribute content relevant to events that have been postponed or sports that have been temporarily suspended. This content can fall along any of three categories.
- Content supporting public health messaging about COVID-19.
There is still work to be done to convince everyone of the wisdom of following the basics of infection mitigation, like social distancing or hand washing. Content, usually from celebrities or athletes, can make the difference in boosting social awareness when we need it most.
- Content surrounding the anticipation of the return to normalcy.
Despite the serious consequences that this crisis will exact on our most vulnerable, as a world, we are grateful for an eventual return to normalcy. Content looking forward to the return-to-play will be important to engage audiences hungry for that hope.
- Content providing a deeper dive into the sponsored property.
There are always great stories left to tell. With consumers looking for interesting content, brands and properties should be serving it up on a silver platter. We can’t remember a better time since the dawn of the Internet to engage an audience in virtual and online content. Feature great stories about volunteers and staff members or you can showcase previous event content.
And, Remember: Tone is Important
Marketing in crisis always poses risks. Looking tone deaf is harmful. However, the risk of doing nothing in the midst of chaos is even greater if we hope to someday recover as an industry.
We see positive and inspirational creativity as the correct theme. As content is created, we recommend toeing this line: Be thoughtful, not crass. Be positive, but not giddy. And, above all, avoid content that gives the appearance of mixed motives. After all, this is intended to be of value to the consumer. For the sponsorship industry, there was never a better time to remind consumers what that value looks like.
(Read Part 1 in a series of articles about the sponsorship industry in crisis)