DigitalDigital StrategySports & Entertainment

How Digital Sports Marketing is Changing the Game: Top Brands Score Big Wins

New Balance Hosted Thought Leaders in the Boston to Share Insights on how New Balance, Vista, MassMutual, and More Find Success through Innovative Strategies and Partnerships

Introduction: The New Playing Field

The digital economy has transformed the landscape of sports marketing, offering brands unprecedented opportunities to engage with their target audiences. With the rise of social media, streaming platforms, and e-commerce, brands have been able to leverage innovative strategies and partnerships to increase their reach and impact. In this article, we will explore how top brands such as New Balance, Vista, MassMutual, Aston Martin, Panera Bread, Athletic Brewing, Shockoe, Ocean Spray, Boston Beer Company, and Rapid7 are scoring big wins in sports marketing.

New Balance: Creating Personalized Experiences for Fans

New Balance, a global leader in athletic footwear and apparel, has embraced the digital economy to create unique, personalized experiences for its customers. By leveraging cutting-edge technologies such as augmented reality and AI-driven personalization, New Balance has been able to offer fans immersive and customized content that resonates on a deeper level. This approach has resulted in increased brand loyalty and engagement, proving that cutting-edge technology can be a game-changer in sports marketing.

Tracy Knauer and Chris Davies, CMO at New Balance pointed out that you have to lead with your brand first and then execute marketing campaigns and paid advertising for their Northstar target customers. Jeff McAdams pointed out that it is most important to capture cultural moments at the time when it matters for the consumer vs. targeting calendar dates.

Vista’s Slam Dunk Partnership with the Boston Celtics

Vista, a leading technology and software company, has taken its sports marketing efforts to new heights by partnering with the Boston Celtics, one of the NBA’s most storied franchises. Through this collaboration, Vista has been able to showcase its products and services to a captive audience of passionate sports fans. By integrating its technology into the fan experience, Vista has successfully positioned itself as a key player in the tech industry and as a brand that understands the needs of the modern sports fan.

Vista’s execs Clifford Skeete and Michael Buckley elaborated on how they are a company for small-business showcasing lucky chosen local businesses during Celtics games and supporting black entrepreneur owned businesses.

MassMutual Hits a Home Run with the Red Sox

Financial services giant MassMutual has found success in the digital economy by partnering with the iconic Boston Red Sox. As a sponsor of the storied baseball team, MassMutual has been able to tap into a passionate and loyal fan base, using the power of sports to connect with its target audience on a deeper level.

Through creative campaigns and strategic activations, MassMutual has demonstrated that the right partnership can yield significant returns in the realm of sports marketing.

Aston Martin’s Drive to Survive: A Netflix Sensation

Aston Martin, a luxury British car manufacturer, has taken an innovative approach to sports marketing by collaborating with Netflix on the popular series “Drive to Survive.” The show, which offers a behind-the-scenes look at the world of Formula 1 racing, has provided Aston Martin with a unique opportunity to showcase its brand and reach a global audience. By partnering with a streaming giant like Netflix, Aston Martin has proven that embracing new media platforms can lead to massive success in sports marketing.

Shergul Arshad of Aston Martin F1 pointed out that the Formula one reach is ten fold compared to the superbowl reaching about 1 billion viewers globally.

Panera Bread: Fueling Athletes and Fans Alike

Panera Bread, a popular fast-casual restaurant chain, has found a winning formula in the digital economy. Panera’s CDO George Hanson shared his digital strategy with the audience. With Panera’s rewards program and the sip club he is focusing the company on delight and surprise vs a standard rewards program. With the sip club he introduced a subscription model allowing customers to refuel anytime during the day with beverages and coffee.

One thing that George pointed out stuck out – when trying to create loyal customers you have to “build loyalty and not loyalty programs” honing in on:

  1. Start with your value proposition to the customer
  2. Analyze the data do you have available to activate your customers
  3. Have technology tools and data to measure

With that information in hand his team decided to replace mobile kiosks with mobile devices that allow you to pre-order and even reserve a table at their restaurants.

Key measures for digital success:

  1. Digital sales compared to total sales
  2. New membership enroll rates vs de-activations
  3. customer lifetime value

Athletic Brewing: Tapping into the Non-Alcoholic Market

Athletic Brewing, a pioneering non-alcoholic beer brand, has capitalized on the growing trend of health and wellness in sports marketing. By partnering with athletes and sponsoring events that promote active lifestyles, Athletic Brewing has been able to establish itself as a leader in the non-alcoholic beverage industry. Its innovative marketing strategies, which include influencer and ambassador collaborations that they bring on twice a year.

Aaron Katz, CMO at Athletic Brewing, pointed out that Gen Z customers drink 40% less alcohol compared to previous generations.

On top of that there has been a shift in customer preference where non-alcoholic beverage does not replace consumption of alcoholic beverages. Rather, consumers are choosing non-alcoholic beer for specific occasions which he called “Zebra Drinking”

Ocean Spray’s Refreshing Approach: Aiming to Squeeze More Out of Health-Minded Gen Z and Millennials with Cranberry Juice

Ocean Spray CMO laid out her approach to attract younger generations to their iconic Ocean Spray juice beverages and focused on the right moments throughout the year and data insights to target new customers at the time when it matters for them.

Boston Beer Company: Brewing Success in Digital Spaces

Boston Beer Company utilizes digital platforms for a range of promotional strategies, from live virtual events to interactive social media campaigns. This multi-faceted approach allows them to reach a diverse audience and maintain a strong digital presence.

Specifically, the “Your Cousin from Boston” campaign has been successful to as the highest rated Superbowl advertisement, but she also shared that it required tweaking to get it right.

CMO Lesya Lysyj is using digital tools for pre-testing media campaigns and has seen some success using ChatGPT to come up with new product names.

Rapid7 and the Boston Bruins: Scoring Goals in Cybersecurity Awareness

Rapid7’s partnership with the Boston Bruins goes beyond traditional sports sponsorship. They use this platform to raise cybersecurity awareness, combining educational content with sports marketing. This strategy enhances Rapid7’s brand reputation, positions it as a thought leader, and drives engagement with a wider audience.

Katherine (Kathy) Klingler CMO at Rapid7 described the process working with their partners at Delaware North – the owner of the Bruins leveraging the vicinity of being in the same building with Rapid7 and doing research if cybersecurity professionals love sports. Spoiler alert: they do!

Kathy also pointed out that a partnership is a living and breathing relationship that needs to be nurtured on an ongoing basis to reap the best rewards from it.

Wayfair and ChatGPT: A Game-Changing Play in E-commerce

Wayfair’s recent foray into AI-powered product descriptions with Open AI’s ChatGPT represents a game-changing move in the e-commerce arena. By utilizing this language model, Wayfair offers customers engaging, personalized, and detailed product information. This move not only enhances customer experience but also optimizes search engine results, thereby driving traffic and sales.

John Hall of Wayfair did a test with human writers, vs AI writing product descriptions and while dedicated human authors were doing a good job AI aced the test with 86% of efficiency and accuracy. The key moment I remember was when he clarified that in contrast to the common fear that AI is going to take your job it wil be “someone using AI instead”.

Concluding Thoughts: The Future of Sports Marketing in the Digital Economy

As brands continue to adapt and innovate in the digital economy, it’s clear that the future of sports marketing lies in the creative integration of technology, content, and audience engagement. The examples of New Balance, Vista, MassMutual, Aston Martin, Panera Bread, Athletic Brewing, Shockoe, Ocean Spray, Boston Beer Company, Rapid7, and Wayfair demonstrate the immense potential and diversity of digital strategies in sports marketing.

Their collective success underlines the need for authenticity, personalized engagement, and creative storytelling in digital campaigns. As we move further into the digital age, these principles will only become more essential for brands seeking to make a lasting impact in the world of sports marketing.

With digital transformation accelerating at an unprecedented pace, brands will need to stay agile, adapt swiftly, and continually reinvent their strategies to stay ahead of the curve. The digital arena offers immense opportunities for brands to connect with consumers in more engaging, innovative, and meaningful ways. Those who can harness these opportunities will undoubtedly emerge as the winners in this new game of sports marketing.

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Carsten Krause

As the CDO of The CDO TIMES I am dedicated delivering actionable insights to our readers, explore current and future trends that are relevant to leaders and organizations undertaking digital transformation efforts. Besides writing about these topics we also help organizations make sense of all of the puzzle pieces and deliver actionable roadmaps and capabilities to stay future proof leveraging technology. Contact us at: to get in touch.

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