The topic at hand this week? Exceptional game day experiences.

We know the hustle.

The late hours, the constant pivoting, and the passion for the game. We also know that day after day, week after week, some plug-and-play tools for the in-arena experience can lift the burden on your teams. While driving better fan experiences.

Without further ado, here’s everything you need to engage fans across the big screen on game day. Lower-lift, high reward.

Part 1: What's in the (tool)box!? QR Codes.

QR. Quick Response. The pandemic’s golden technology.

With their ease of versatility and lack of contact, the QR code is the perfect bridge between any in-stadium activation and your fans. At this point, you can be assured that you no longer have to educate your fans on how to use them. The majority of your fans will know that a QR code = a call to action, so you can think of the QR code as the number 1 tool for campaign entry. How you choose to display these handy little tools is entirely up to you and your marketing objectives, but here are some quick thought starters:

The Physical: QR Code Flyers and Posters

Why change the familiar if it works well enough? QR codes displayed on flyers in high-traffic areas around your event are a relatively simple way to get fans to enter one of your campaigns. Be strategic in your placement of these flyers: high traffic areas, clear signage, or even on the seats of certain sections. Wherever you decide to place your QR flyers, ask yourself this, “will I reach the fans I want?”

While the QR code flyer isn’t flashy, if it’s at the right location, in front of the right fans, it can be just as enticing.

Pro-Tip: If your goal is to get fans signing up for a digital campaign before the event so that they’re ready to go in the middle of the game, consider sending fans to an engagement hub instead of an individual campaign. With an engagement hub, fans only have to enter their details once, so you’re lowering their barrier to entry regardless of whether you’re throwing up 1 or more live activations during the game.

The Creative: QR Codes on Merchandise

At a time when digital goods are getting all the attention, it’s easy to forget that physical goods offer the potential to surprise and delight fans. This is why QR codes on merch are a great application. First, you can have a lot of fun with what the QR codes represent, and second, you can incentivize more fans to buy into your line (because the merch offers an exclusive opportunity).

A favourite example: An example we love was done by the USL team Forward Madison. Their 2021 kits included a QR code on the sleeve that would enable fans to buy a beer for another fan in the stadium. With such a simple addition they were able to:

  1. Build a bigger sense of community and camaraderie for fans in the stands
  2. Create a unique fan moment for any fan participating

USL Merch QR Code

The Digital: On the Big Screen

Throw it up for the whole stadium to see! Displaying a QR code on a jumbotron, projector or any large screen that has the attention of your fans is a great way for them to say, “eh why not?!” It’s also a fantastic way to build live activations into your Game Day presentation.

If you’re looking to run an activation that requires specific timing (aka half-time or media breaks), popping a QR code and CTA up on the Jumbotron is a great way to get buy-in quickly.

Part 2: Game Day Executions

Jumbo UGC Walls/Screens

UGC is a cost-effective way to build the relationship between your fans and brand. Having fans being able to picture themselves as part of your community is a foundation for constructing long-term loyalty.

Our favourite thing about any UGC campaign is that it can be recycled a dozen different ways - from a promotion tactic to a surprise and delight for fans on the big screen.

Here are our tips for transforming a UGC campaign from an avenue engaging fans before an event to a “smash hit” on game day, when fans see themselves reflected on the field:

Personalize the Experience

Enriching the fan experience requires individuals to feel as if they are being included in the event themselves. A UGC wall at an event does this well. By greeting fans with the content they helped produce, you’re effectively telling fans, “this event was made for you.” And, you humanize the experience. With real fans, real faces and real fandom showcased for all to see, you’re creating a deeper bond between players and fans.

Pro-Tip: Run a video contest or photo contest with an incentive first, to get content for your UGC wall/jumbotron. Why? Although it’s a higher lift to get some fans to fill in their email details, when run in conjunction with a social media “hashtag campaign,” you’re increasing the depth of your content.

Fans that don’t want to post and tag themselves on social media can still be part of the community, you get first-party data, and you don’t lose reach, because your UGC stream is already pulling in social media content.

Motivate Participation with Good Incentives

Fans often become overwhelmed when it comes to sharing personal content and often require a nudge in the right direction. This nudge can come in many forms, but here are our faves:

  • Experience-Based PrizingA post for a “once in a lifetime” experience. If you’re asking for a high-lift give (i.e. a nice picture or video), you should have a high reward. Nothing beats a unique experience.
  • CSR initiatives: If there’s a movement that you can tap into that resonates with your fans, perhaps run a “share your experience” type UGC campaign. If fans are motivated by your movement, they’re more likely to share.
  • Regular Prizes: A chance to win discounted merch, a season ticket, or some other prize can also be enough to spur participation. Whatever the incentive, at its core it should captivate fans to show their support and urge them to share their experience.

Whatever the incentive, at its core it should captivate fans to show their support and urge them to share their experience.

Get Sponsors Involved

Slap a logo on it. While we normally dissuade commercial partnerships that are just a “billboard-style” logo, UGC streams with sponsor branding are a great way to marry the “just a logo” mantra with a fun experience for fans. You could also combine your jumbotron UGC with technology like AR filters to provide a creative medium to promote your sponsors

Build for the Future

While UGC can culminate in a great asset for your Jumbotron on Game-day, it doesn’t have to stop there. Any image wall you use for UGC can be recycled at a later date through your socials, email or other channels. Save up a bank of content from your fans to tailor future posts, and call back to great experiences year-round. Pumping this content out year-round help positions your brand as relevant and fresh, keeping fans thinking about how to relive that experience.

Live Activations

Live Activations are one of the best ways to engage fans at your event while driving more value in the form of first-party data collection. They’re a tool for uncovering fans in the stands that are not primary ticket buyers, so you can understand who is really filling up your seats.

Our favourite campaign types for 2022 live activations include Tug of Wars, Memory Games, Survivor Quizzes, Polls, Surveys and Trivia. Each campaign is easily accessible and includes a live display of results for all fans to see.

A favourite use-case: Take this Portland Trail Blazers memory match as an example. In the stadium, fans were prompted with a QR code displayed on the jumbotron at halftime.

Rather than waiting for fans to figure out how to play the game, their game-day team said, “why not have fans learn from the legendary power forward Carmello Anthony?” Directly following their prompt for the QR code was footage of Melo flipping cards and clocking his best time. And with three simple tools - a QR code, a jumbotron and a memory match engagement - the Portland Trail Blazers:

  • Educated fans on how to enter and play the game
  • Incentivized participation using competition against a fan favourite
  • Brought their stadium one step closer to each other in a competitive match
  • Collected first-party data of all participants in the stadium to use at a later date

Trail Blazers Screenshot

Build for the Future

UGC isn’t solely a tool for game day as it’s just as effective on your social channels as on the big screen. Saving up a bank of user-generated content allows you to tailor-make social posts for your audience as the post itself mirrors an original experience. Pumping this content out year-round help positions your brand as relevant and fresh, keeping fans thinking about how to relive that experience.

Last Comments

Engaging fans during game day requires a huge amount of time, resources and creativity from your team. Make it easier by employing tools that allow your team to plug and play highly engaging experiences. Then, double down on these experiences by ensuring the campaigns you employ are accessible, actionable and personable, and data-driven.

With these digital game day tips, you’ll be well on your way to increasing your addressable first-party database and providing exemplary fan experiences.

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~ Happy Marketing!

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