How Tech Can Redefine the Big Match Experience for Sports Fans

As sport fanbases become more and more global, how can advertising help cater to the hardcore fans across different timezones. Cyril Louis, Global Executive Creative Director, LePub Singapore Giwoun Park, Marketing Director, HEINEKEN Korea discuss the power of sport, and how ad tech is key to reaching new audiences.

How is tech redefining our concepts of creativity? Does the industry need to reframe its thinking around the possibilities?

CL: Technology has always been an enabler, but is it more today?

As technology reshapes creativity with the rise of AI and machine learning in creative processes, it challenges traditional notions of creativity being uniquely human. It raises discussions about the role of machines in the creative industries.

Technology is not just a tool but a pivotal element in redefining the boundaries and possibilities of creativity in the modern era, continually pushing the limits of what can be created and experienced.

How powerful a tool for advertisers is fan engagement, specifically in sport? And how rich a canvas is sport for creativity?

GP: It is extremely powerful, while also quite sensitive to handle. The dedication of a true hardcore fan goes to extremes, the sport often being the most important component in their life besides their job, friends and family. If a brand can find the right approach to get strongly associated and positively linked with their favorite team or sports, that brand could receive in return a similar degree of loyalty as shown for their favorite club or player, potentially even being transferred to the next generation. However, it is not easy to achieve such a feat. Being a fan means being passionate while simultaneously critical towards anything that is not in line with their beliefs related to the sport. This requires long-term dedication from the brand to build credentials and superior creative capabilities and insights to develop authentic campaigns on a recurring basis. 

Directly engaging with fans through activations is more challenging than just releasing a simple ad-based campaign. Having to offer excitement through every activation to trigger participation also means risking being blamed even more by the community if such activations fail their critical eye test. For a marketer, this is an interesting challenge with the chance to gain brand supporters for life.

How does digital integration foster deeper fan engagement and extend the brand experience beyond physical spaces?

GP: I think our UCL / LaundroMatch activation is a great example of not having to reinvent the wheel but how to use an existing digital technology (SPOTV) to provide a valuable experience by simply making it more accessible. Although there is nothing unusual nowadays about watching UCL matches on smartphones as it is with any other media content, it still requires fans to buy the viewing rights to be able to do so, which many cannot afford in the first place. To offer those fans the chance to instantly activate free viewing coupons through QR codes and to select their favourite UCL matches on their phones provides instant gratification, and creates accessibility at all times and regardless of their location. Ultimately, this expands the viewing experience instead of having to rely on limited physical spaces where the matches are being aired at 4 am in the morning. 

By giving fans access to complimentary 30-day SPOTV subscriptions, we hope that Heineken Korea will be remembered as the brand that provided them with such a pleasurable viewing experience every time those fans use our coupons to watch their favourite teams.

What was the creative inspiration behind the LaundroMatch campaign?

CL: The dedication needed in Asia to follow the UEFA Champions League goes beyond any other place. The matches happen at 3 am or 4 am, making fans compromise their sleep and work. But the most significant compromise they are making is that they have to watch games alone at home, as bars are closed at this time. We were looking at places that open 24 hours, which have a big footprint in Korea, when we realised that laundromats could be a place to enjoy the match together and share their passion for the game.

What made the APAC region perfect for this campaign?

CL: You are more than a fan when you wake up or are awake at 4 am to watch matches. So, Heineken’s 'Cheers to the Real Hardcore Fans' campaign is a perfect fit for this region as it celebrates the passion for the game no matter who or where you are. We wanted to give fans in Korea back the joy of socialising with friends and other football fans while watching the game.

We'll be talking about OOH, creativity and brand identity in more depth at ATS Singapore on July 3rd - get your tickets here, or contact sales@thewirecorp.com to discuss sponsorship opportunities.