As we kick off another exciting year for sports sponsorship and marketing, let's take a look at the most inspirational stories of 2018. Make sure you read until the end for what we can learn from these stories in relation to sports marketing in 2019.
England at the World Cup: The team is greater than the sum of its individual parts
As a proud Welshman, this selection is somewhat begrudgingly chosen. But credit where credit is due, Gareth Southgate’s side were barely fancied to achieve anything at World Cup 2018. It’s easy to say they only beat Panama, Tunisia and Sweden over 90 minutes but given the extent of England’s under performances at previous tournaments there is plenty to be admired. Above all the leadership of Southgate and skipper Harry Kane in building a team mentality. An environment where the collective flourishes is something that anyone can learn from.
Billy Whizz: Courage in the face of adversity
If you haven’t seen the documentary about young motor racing driver Billy Monger, make sure you check it out on iPlayer. To say he is inspirational is quite the understatement. Having been involved in a high speed crash in April 2017, Monger required a double amputation of the bottom part of his legs. Giving up the sport he loved was never in question, and a desire to return to the track proved to be at the forefront of his rehabilitation. Following treatment and therapy he returned to racing and this year competed in a single seater racer for the first time. In December he picked up BBC’s Helen Rollason award for achievement in the face of adversity. Hard to argue with that.
Tyson Fury: Mental strength and leaving the comfort zone
He’s not everyone’s cup of tea. In fact he’s never really been mine. His remarks about homosexuality in 2015 were beyond ‘ill-advised’. But what Fury has shown this year is a huge amount of resilience. Having suffered and spoken about his long-term struggles with mental illness and alcohol/recreational drug addiction, it would’ve been easy to write off Fury. This year he continued his comeback by taking on Deontay Wilder for WBC heavyweight title in LA, twice getting up from knock downs to draw the fight. Setting up a rematch or potential clash with Anthony Joshua. He may not be as flash or instantly marketable as Joshua but his willingness to fight away from home and overcome his demons means there is a lot to admire.
Team Europe at Ryder Cup 2018: Do your homework
I’ve written about Ryder Cup quite a bit on this blog (see previous posts about Ian Poulter) but this was another masterclass from Team Europe. Hard to believe that the bookies had USA as favourites before the tournament. But it’s not just Europe’s mentality that got them through this, it was their preparation. Despite having many of the world’s best golfers and a better team on paper, only one of the American’s had played a competitive round at the Le Golf National course this year. Europe turned up much more equipt for a battle around a challenging and unforgiving course and that preparation proved a huge factor in the crushing victory.
England Netball: History doesn’t dictate your future
‘Netball has a new world order’ were the words of BBC pundit Tamsin Greenway after England stunned Australia to win Commonwealth Games gold. England had never claimed gold at the games or won the World Cup, while Australia had been a dominant force. But proof that history doesn’t always repeat itself, the England side used an amazing sense of self-belief to carry them over the line thanks to a dramatic last second victory. The win was the defining image of Commonwealth Games, a tournament which many have questioned the relevance of in this day and age. But the impact of the victory has been palpable, securing a long-term sponsorship deal (more on that here ) and most strikingly a huge uptake at grassroots level. A YouGov study conducted by England Netball showed that over 130,000 women had started playing netball or played more as a direct result of the victory.
At a time when so much focus is dedicated to e-sports, PPV and YouTube boxing, largely in the pursuit of purely chasing numbers, don’t forget the power that traditional sport has. The platforms are changing but the power of the message isn't. Women’s sport is doing a huge amount to protect and enhance the integrity of sport. Brands looking to tell powerful stories about enabling inspirational teams should seriously consider a strategy with women’s sport at the heart of it.
To find out how you could benefit from a clearly defined sports marketing strategy, speak to Underdog for a free consultation.