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Cross training energizes IMG World Congress of Sports

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The 13th annual IMG World Congress of Sports is taking place now in Orange County, California and showing how sports marketing campaigns are benefiting from the exchange of success stories between experts in different sports at these conferences.

Conference speakers showed how the U.S. Olympic Committee’s “Road to London” and “Road to Sochi” public relations campaigns are setting a high standard for long range public relations campaigns. MetLife Chief Marketing Officer Beth Hirschhorn introduced MetLife’s six month campaign leading up to the 2014 NFL SuperBowl at MetLife Stadium. Coca-Cola is producing an encore to its long-term sponsorship campaign of the 2014 Winter Olympics torch relay with a build-up to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. This campaign features a world tour of the World Cup trophies.

Transforming success in building an audience into platforms for entertainment and online merchandising is another concept that is gaining popularity. The case example of the new Barclay’s Stadium in Brooklyn presented as an example of state-of-the art technology two years ago at the 2012 IMG World Congress of Sports has become a standard many more aim to follow. United Airlines, official sponsor of the U.S. Olympic Team, is rolling out upgrades to the united.com website designed to enhance its leadership position as one of the ten highest grossing e-commerce sites in the world. This will include tools for airline passengers to incorporate their sports and team interests in their customer profiles to get preferential fares and promotions for sports travel. Ericsson exhibited in the trade show area to present World Congress of Sports visitors with updates on the expanded range of choices sports business has for enhancing fan interaction and smart phone based ticketing and merchandising at sports venues.

Another concept gaining momentum among sports promotion experts is expanded development of sports themed programming that complements live broadcasting of sports events. Jeannie Buss, President of the Los Angeles Lakers, explained how this kind of ancillary programming that builds personal bonds between fans and athletes has made taking television viewers behind the scenes the new normal. And this innovation in building and maintaining a digital cable audience is becoming more valuable as alternative media like specialty YouTube channels prompt audience attrition; the total number of pay-per-view subscribers dropped by a quarter million in 2013.

One innovation will be a challenge to emulate. The attendees got to see the creative process used in real time advertising AT&T broadcast during the 2012 Olympic Games when feeds from the immediately preceding medal events were integrated into pre-recorded ads that aired just minutes after the events themselves. The campaign associated AT&T with championship performance in the minds of viewers.

What is next? Guinness won accolades from both sports business managers and advertising executives for its sports advertising campaign emphasizing character as a value with its brand subtly associated with the stories in the ads. The dialogue free spot, which shows a game of wheelchair basketball followed by a relaxing team get together in a bar where only one player is in a wheelchair and the others stand, is building on growing consumer admiration for Paralympic athletes and their success. With over 8.4 million online views to date, celebrating Paralympic athlete success looks like a promising trend for sports marketing success.

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