To create or not to create a sports ad, is that the question?

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To create or not to create a sports ad, is that the question?

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For many years, marketing in sport has become essential due to the significant income generated. How can a good sports marketing campaign be achieved?  Mauro Fusco, Director, Analytics, Insights, Central and Southern Europe at Kantar,  speaks about it in a dedicated forum.

Tale as old as time is the debate about what is more important in order to achieve a certain marketing goal : the quality of the creative or the targeting. The most truthful answer is that both should be done well ! A good steering and placing of your campaign in the most suitable environments and slots and in the best channels, with as little as possible scatter loss, is one of the goals. Equally important, excelling in the creation of an effective creative, packing it in the right form and getting your message across is also a prerequisite for a campaign success.

Read also : "Kantar Marketplace : prédire l'efficacité publicitaire grâce à l'intelligence artificielle"

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Notwithstanding, ad creation is not a one-way street. There are various opinions on what works and what does not, and marketers, market intelligence gurus and art directors are constantly on the hunt for new inspiration. A vital strategic question upfront is also what topic the creative should have in order to generate high return of investment.Given the saturation of sports events in 2021 and the upcoming winter Olympic games and a new FIFA World Cup edition in 2022, sports' as a topic has certainly landed on the whiteboard or is on the radar of many, if not professionally than on your personal, TV sets and other devices. Why have advertisers chosen it ? Sports has the unique power to motivate, challenge, unite, pacify and engage, which is undeniable. It is present in our daily life, it is a passion and a dream for millions of people. Given its popularity and positive vibe it enables communication with the audience at an eye level. But is that so straightforward! Here a few questions we asked ourselves:

How about sports as a central theme of an ad campaign? Does it pay off in leveraging the brand? What does it actually achieve?

- Mauro Fusco, Director, Analytics, Insights, Central and Southern Europe (Kantar)


To answer these relevant questions and give recommendations for future contemplations on whether to go with a sports-related ad, Kantar combined their Analytics and Creative capabilities and investigated the creative effectiveness of TV campaigns around sports events. We have gathered 46 ads across markets (Netherlands, Belgium, France and Italy) which are focused on either the UEFA Euro 2020 (2021), the UEFA Nations League  or the Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo.

The storylines are varied e.g., some plot around the company's sponsorship of an individual sportsman, others touch upon patriotic feeling of the audience and still others on promoting a call-to-action or a new product.

Multifaceted are also the zoomed-in ads when it comes to length, tonality, tempo, mood, characters, voice over, ad claim, brand new or continuation of an existing campaign, etc. as well as the brand itself  its category, size, market position, price class. Therefore, our multiple case study design has good variability as a foundation and projects a broad reality out there.

To go further : "Replay HUBDAY Social & Digital Advertising 2021"

Best practices for effective creatives around sports events

Here three recommendations stemming from the most successful ads that get the green light for their overall performance in our Link AI study:

  1. Give your brand or product an active and clear role in the narrative, make it a main character in the plot
  2. More concrete ad claims, relevant to consumers, rather than general messages matter
  3. In a sea of competitors with similar ads in an analogue environment, find your angle to stand out

Main Takeaways

If you decide to go for the creation of an ad with a story around a sports event, like the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing, make sure, more than ever, to make a narrative which stands out, with an active and clear role for your brand, create a relatable ad with a meaningful message !

How can Link AI help with your business questions ?

In Kantar Marketplace's Link AI tool, you can upload an ad, analyse and get results real-time in an automated Power Point format as well as Excel directly from the dashboard and apply those learnings in the following situations:

  • Batch testing high volumes of ads to use for meta-analysis
  • Versioning e.g., different time formats, CTAs, offers, prices
  • Screening ads for smaller/local brands that wouldn’t normally be tested
  • For smaller markets, quickly choose between options when receiving ads from abroad

Does that sound interesting, does it ring any bells? Eager to know more?

Check our website and get in touch with your Kantar Account manager for a short demo and to discuss your specific business questions. Or gladly with our Kantar Marketplace team or