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Budweiser Says Goodbye to Wade With New Sports Strategy

A video tribute to Dwyane Wade is the latest example of how Budweiser expects to tell deeper stories in sports with active athletes.

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Photo Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Dwyane Wade only knew he had to trade five extra jerseys for Budweiser.

Wade traded jerseys with other NBA players throughout this season, his last, so as Budweiser planned its farewell salute, he entrusted the brewery to surprise him with the resulting tribute video. All they told him was he’d be trading five more jerseys.

Budweiser then presented Wade with the opportunity to trade jerseys with five of the fans he impacted most throughout his career, including his mom, and the results were shown in a tribute video released Tuesday. Rather than his athletic accomplishments, Budweiser desired to show his off-the-court contributions to the world.

READ MORE: Crawford Bock Brings Beer and Baseball Together for Astros

The Wade video isn’t the only farewell tribute video produced by Budweiser, the brewer released similar videos for Derek Jeter and Dale Earnhardt Jr., but it is part of a broader sports strategy for the company, Budweiser Vice President of Marketing Monica Rustgi said.

“The last two years, we’ve found a sweet spot in sports, celebrating iconic cultural moments,” Rustgi said. “We always look for these once-in-a-lifetime moments, and it was undeniable with [Wade’s] track record beyond the court was a story we had to tell.”

Budweiser shot two versions of the video, a long-form 4-minute version and a 90-second spot, the four-minute video debuted Tuesday morning on social channels and played prior to Wade’s last home game in Miami. The 90-second spot broadcast during the game on FOX Sports Sun. Wednesday the campaign will continue during his final road game.

Budweiser wasn’t the only company to release a tribute video to Wade, as Twitter released a video with a variety of exclusive interviews with people close to him, such as wife Gabrielle Union and former teammates Chris Bosh, Shaq, and Caron Butler.

Budweiser’s campaign centered on Wade is part of a deepening storytelling effort by using active players. The brewer reached deals with both the MLB and NBA players unions last year for the ability to use active players. Previously, the company could only use former players.

“For us, it’s a huge milestone as it pertains to how we advertise and market,” Rustgi said. “Budweiser has a long legacy of sports marketing, one of the first to understand the opportunity to bring our message to sports. But we realized we had to evolve, pivot from being the billboard in the stadium to being a meaningful part of the sports story.”

The acquisition of player rights can be a big step for the beer brand, said David Meltzer, founder of Sports 1 Marketing and S1Media, mentioning the viral success of the Wade video on Tuesday.

“People buy on emotion for logical reasons,” Meltzer said. “AB InBev’s acquisition of the rights to use MLB and NBA players in uniform is certainly a big change for the brewer and, as the recent Dwayne Wade ad shows, this is a great way to tie in relevant athletes and their emotional stories to the Budweiser brands.”

Rustgi said the Budweiser teams realized the brand could go deeper by embracing the idea sports are part of their fans’ lifestyles.

“Players get us that much closer to their sport and their stories drive the connection,” she said.

READ MORE: Mizzen+Main Looks to Continue Sports Push With Murray, Mickelson

The deals struck with the unions were meant to help highlight active legends on and off the court or field, at local and national levels, Rustgi said. 

While there are no such deals with the NHL, NFL or other leagues currently, Rustgi said Budweiser will continue to capitalize on strong cultural moments in sports, like a commercial memorializing last year’s Stanley Cup Final run by the Vegas Golden Knights.

“The most important piece for us is there is a moment in sport where someone has impacted the sport and community,” she said. “We won’t stop if there is a moment to highlight, whether or not it’s a focused sport.”

Pat Evans is a writer based in Las Vegas, focusing on sports business, food, and beverage. He graduated from Michigan State University in 2012. He's written two books: Grand Rapids Beer and Nevada Beer. Evans can be reached at pat@frntofficesport.com.

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Diving Into Banana Republic’s Extensive Use of Athletes

Banana Republic has tapped athletes such as Kevin Love and Jared Goff to help develop clothing lines and build a connection with sports fans.

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Photo Courtesy Kevin Love

Kevin Love and Jared Goff are lending more than just their modeling skills to Banana Republic, as the pair are instrumental in helping shape some of the brand’s male fashion lines.

Love was the company’s first global men’s style ambassador and as Banana Republic CMO Mary Alderete says, “helped put Banana Republic’s tailored performance mix on the map” in spring 2016 and launched “BR/K.Love-18,” the company’s first collection co-designed with an athlete last fall. This summer, the brand is putting Goff front and center, as well, showing off Banana Republic’s “Core Temp” collection.

By bringing in athletes, Banana Republic has acknowledged these individuals drive trends beyond the sports world.

READ MORE: Mizzen+Main Looks to Continue Sports Push With Murray, Mickelson

“The stadium is the new runway and athletes are both performance and style icons,”  Alderete says. “Athletes are getting photographed entering stadiums for their games, just as models are shot on the runway. It has become part of the pregame ritual and media coverage.”

Banana Republic is tapping into the emotions of sports fans, leveraging the connection between athletes and fans to draw in new consumers.

“[Athletes] are attractive for brands to use in their marketing for one reason: The strong emotions that fans hold for their favorite players and teams,” says David Meltzer, CEO and co-founder, Sports 1 Marketing. “People buy on emotion for logical reasons and a collaboration between a brand and their favorite athlete will invariably lead to increased attention on a company’s products and services.”

Banana Republic’s content strategy focuses on three main aspects, according to Alderete: “Give me access, give me more and multidimensional stories, tell me something I don’t know.”

With those points in mind, athletes are rolled out when there’s an ideal fit for a new line, like Goff and the “Core Temp” product. Alderete also notes Goff’s “modern, effortless California style” complements Love’s “more classically tailored menswear styles,” which helps showcase the versatility of Banana Republic’s options.

“Our athletes are chosen based on their authentic connection with the brand and how their personal style narrative connects with the product stories we tell,” Alderete says. “Jared’s cool-under-pressure style of play was a natural fit for our body temperature regulating Core Temp product launch and his effortless style from his California roots is aligned with our brand aesthetically.”

The personal connection with Love was brought to life last fall with the launch of the limited edition “BR/K.Love-18” collection, which included his tailored look, but also merged with outdoorsy aesthetics from his Oregon upbringing. On the company’s blog, The Republic, Love detailed in a Q&A what it was like to work with the design team to bring together the “timeless, athletic and rugged” collection.

“All of those categories really fit the nature of how I get dressed,” he says. “I wanted the collection to reflect all aspects of my personal style sensibility and have clothes that everyone can relate to, are staples, but can be mixed and matched to create something fresh and new.”

Beyond Love and Goff, Banana Republic has utilized its “Men’s Style Council,” a group of athletes organized to “showcase the brand’s versatility, quality and innovative performance-driven menswear collections” through campaigns and programs. The council includes Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, New York Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius and Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum.

READ MORE: How Megan Wilson Blogged Her Way to Becoming a Top Athlete Stylist

“When we engage a partner, it’s not just athlete as model,” Alderete says. “We engage our elite athletes in a way that they contribute to the design and creative direction of our programs from a product collaboration with Kevin Love to a performance activation with Jared Goff that is aligned with his style of play and personal style. Our style council athletes are pulsed in our marketing mix as part of our culturally relevant intersections.

“The whole idea of having a ‘council’ of style ambassadors is that we can shine a spotlight on them individually or together at different points in our communications programming.”

While Love and Goff might be elite athletes, it doesn’t take those same abilities to dress like them.

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Nike and US Soccer Team Up for Shoppable Snapchat Lens

For today only, Snapchat users can “try on” the new USWNT home and away jerseys that will be worn by the team in France this summer.

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*This piece first appeared in the Front Office Sports Newsletter. Subscribe today and get the news before anyone else. 

Today only, you will have the chance to “try on” one of the new USWNT home and away jerseys that will be worn in France this summer.

Thanks to a partnership between Nike and US Soccer, Snapchat users will be able to rock the new look via a Snapchat Lens that overlays the jersey and Nike’s famous “Just Do It” slogan on a user’s photo or video.

What do you need to know?

1. That it’s only for live for today, May 9th.

2. The lens is shoppable. Once used, a link out/swipe up opportunity to buy the jersey will appear, allowing users to go from trying it on to purchasing it in only a few clicks.

3. According to a Nike spokesperson, it’s the first time that the brand has ever delivered a shoppable activation for Nike apparel on Snapchat.

Snapchat, Nike and commerce… 

In 2018, when Snap launched Snapchat’s native shopping experience, Jordan became the first brand other than Snap to sell a product via Snapchat.

That night, Jordan dropped the Air Jordan III “Tinker” on Snapchat with same-day delivery available. The shoe sold out in 23 minutes.

The rise of shoppable social media opportunities…

As platforms like Snapchat and Instagram become more refined, shoppable opportunities are natural evolutions to their platforms and ones that brands like adidas have seen success already with.

According to Kasper Rorsted, the CEO of adidas, Instagram played a major role in their online shopping success in Q1.

“There was no doubt that Instagram had a positive impact for our online business in the first quarter. Product launches and Instagram’s checkout tool were the two most important things for our online sales business in the first quarter.”

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Liverpool FC Ready to Build Overseas Brand on U.S. Tour

The Reds take to the States to play three games this summer against German, Spanish and Portuguese foes in historic stadiums.

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Photo Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

A thrilling 4-0 win for Liverpool FC Tuesday against FC Barcelona propelled the English Premier League club into the Champions League Final and gave a recently announced United States tour an extra boost.

“Soccer in the U.S. has been growing, gathering momentum for the past decade,” said Bruce Grobbelaar, who played in 624 games as a goalkeeper for Liverpool from 1981 to 1994 and serves as the ambassador for the tour. “Now Liverpool is growing its fanbase in the U.S. A few years ago, there were only 24 U.S. supporters clubs. Now, there’s 49.

“You can see it’s growing, and it will be brilliant after that spectacle the other night.”

The team will travel to the U.S. for three games in July in an effort to grow its brand, with games at Notre Dame Stadium, Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium. Liverpool will play Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund, LaLiga’s Sevilla and Portugal’s Sporting CP of Primeira Liga over those three matches.

READ MORE: Jaguars’ Unique Arrangement Builds U.K. Audience

The U.S. tour serves two purposes. First, it provides the team with a challenging preseason schedule ahead of the next Premier League slate. Beyond that, it’s a way to showcase the team to its American fans firsthand.

“We’re heading to three incredible locations this year,” said Billy Hogan, Liverpool FC managing director and chief commercial officer. “Each of these stadiums has their own deep-rooted heritage similar to our own and we’ll face three great opposition teams.

“This trip to the USA will be very special and we’re really looking forward to having as many of our supporters with us along the way.”

Grobbelaar said the mix of opponents will make for a unique cross-branding opportunity to grow the sport of soccer in the U.S. as well as the presence of the respective leagues and teams. He believes historical immigrant populations could provide an interesting storyline to the exhibition matches this summer, as the Midwest was a popular destination for Germans and Brooklyn is now home to a significant Portuguese population.

“I happen to look at where they’re playing the games and the populations of descent,” he said. “It’s a good idea to grow fanbases like that.”

The cross-league exhibitions also represent a prime opportunity for exposure for participating leagues, which in turn promotes the European game and the sport of soccer as a whole. The English Premier League has grown prominently among U.S. soccer fans with its NBC broadcast deal the past decade and now other leagues are making their investments in growing the U.S. market well known.

Front Office Sports has detailed both the efforts by the German Bundesliga and Spain’s LaLiga in recent months, each of which noted strong potential in U.S. soccer growth versus limited growth potential in their already established home markets. Bundesliga cited data of 59.6 million soccer fans in the U.S. and growing, leaving plenty of room for leagues and teams to gain fans.

“Right now, interest levels are growing so much, everybody benefits,” said Arne Rees, Bundesliga Americas executive vice president of strategy. “I have no idea if in 10 years we’ll be in a food fight for the same fan, but it’s not exclusive right now.”

In the long run, Grobbelaar believes the U.S. soccer market will be controlled by the MLS as it fills out its expansion plans and the leagues underneath it, including USL Championship and USL League One, continue their growth. But even with those leagues growing in strength and commanding local fandom, Grobbelaar said the U.S. will have room for foreign team supporters. Likewise, to continue the growth of soccer in the U.S., the U.S. men’s national team needs to join the women’s team in international play success. A CONCACAF Gold Cup win and continued World Cup qualification would also help, and Grobbelaar believes the U.S. could play in a World Cup Final in the next decade.

“If you look at the MLS, they’ve attracted a lot of foreign players from Europe, South America; a very diverse situation,” said Grobbelaar who played in the North American Soccer League prior to his Liverpool career. “The younger U.S. generations will see that and want to follow international soccer.”

READ MORE: Gold Cup Looks To Gain Mileage This Summer With Valvoline

But before any of that, or even the Liverpool U.S. tour, can happen, American Liverpool supporters are heading to Las Vegas for a big Champions League final watch party in early June. Grobbelaar said at least 30 U.S. Liverpool FC supporter groups will make their way to Las Vegas to hear three Liverpool legends: David Johnson, Roy Evans and Howard Gayle.

“They’ll be out there to tell their stories, grow the Liverpool brand,” he said. “David Johnson has some stories.”

It’s another step on top of the club’s Champions League success and this summer’s U.S. tour toward increasing its foreign presence. The road is still long, but the club whose motto is “You’ll Never Walk Alone” is intent on coaxing plenty of Americans to join them on it.

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