Experiential Sports Marketing - 7 Examples to Inspire You in 2024

Experiential Sports Marketing - 7 Examples to Inspire You in 2024
by Adam Fabianski / December 21, 2023

Did you know that 70% of Americans identify as sports fans? And while sports fandom ranges from the avid to the casual, sport is a uniquely human global phenomenon that elicits powerful emotions and causes fans of all stripes to sit out in the cold, pay too much for beer, and just in America, spend $56 billion per year on gear and merchandise in support of their favorite teams, clubs, or athletes. 

Experiential sports marketing is an engaging, interactive approach to marketing that presents an incredible opportunity for brands to build awareness and create memorable experiences for an already passionate audience: sports fans. These largely in-person interactions allow brands to create a multi-sensory experience for consumers, allowing them to interact with the product or service in wholly unique ways.

Below are seven of the best examples of modern experiential sports marketing. Use them to inspire your next event!



7 Examples of the Best in Experiential Sports Marketing

  1. Adidas D Rose Jump Store How do you get Brits to care about an American NBA player they’ve never heard of? Adidas had tapped Derrick Rose as an ambassador for the brand. The trouble was, Britain being a football (aka, soccer) country, no one recognized his name or his face. The solution? Engage the youth on London’s courts and create a jumping contest at the Adidas store featuring Rose himself challenging participants to make a 10’ jump and win a pair of sneakers. The result? Adidas’ star is now also a star in the UK. Earned media and social engagements boosted brand awareness and thousands of young basketball players are now Adidas and D Rose fans. 


  2. NFL Experience - Ever wonder what it's like to be in the NFL? This NYC-based experience allows guests an interactive, immersive professional football experience from participating in a huddle to developing a game plan to celebrating a Super Bowl win. Using AR tools, POV video, and other high-tech interactive devices, visitors are treated to a unique and unforgettable perspective of America’s favorite sport.

  3. NBC Sports and Premiere League Fan Event At Universal American fans of Premiere League Football (that is, soccer) don’t have quite the same opportunities to congregate and celebrate their favorite teams and sport en masse like NFL or NBA fans do. So when NBC Sports and Premiere League Mornings planned Live tapings of their morning coverage in cities across the country, it’s no wonder that fans showed up in droves at dawn to join in the fun. Featuring opportunities to engage with talent, purchase swag, meet athletes and mascots, watch matches, and take selfies at club and sponsorship activations throughout the venue, European Football fans got to celebrate their team’s colors at these family-friendly events.

  4. Emirates Airlines Crash Pad at Australian Open - Proof that your brand doesn’t have to be specifically sport-related to engage in successful experiential sports marketing, Emirates Airlines created this branded event activation at the Australian Open, inviting spectators to climb the airstairs and launch themselves onto a giant inflatable crash pad. With just enough of an airline theme and by offering a quick and social media-friendly experience, the airline successfully generated buzz and introduced throngs of tennis fans to the airline.

  5. Red Bull Run The Racks March Madness Kickoff - Red Bull is no stranger to remarkable experiential marketing. Indeed, the brand often sponsors alternative professional sports athletes like snowboarders and BMX bikers. For this campaign, Red Bull Athlete Chris “Lethal Shooter” Matthews challenges other hot hands around the country to ‘run the racks’ - i.e. hit as many 3-pointers from different points beyond the arc in 70 seconds as they can. Matthews himself broke 2 longstanding NBA three-point records by running the racks in an LA gym in 2022. Winners get a chance to train with Matthews and substantial bragging rights.


  6. Toca Social - Much like the NFL experience, Toca Social is a concept built around a country’s beloved national sport. In this case, England and European football, respectively. This immersive experience engages fans from the moment they enter the venue, leading them first into a locker room, then through a multi-sensory tunnel leading to the main pitch, which is immersed in the color and aesthetic of the sport. This hospitality and entertainment venue features interactive VR football games, a photo booth, plus a full bar and restaurant.


  7. McDonald’s All-American Games - The McDonald’s All-American Games feature the best of the best high school basketball players from across the country. 24 young men and 24 young women are selected as finalists and divided into East or West teams based on their home states. The 4 teams face off in a doubleheader, treating spectators (and recruiters, no doubt) to some of the finest young talents in the sport. McDonald’s leveraged its sponsorship in myriad ways, but one of the more unique tactics during the pandemic was that all participants were shipped a custom-made locker holding their uniforms, shoes, sports bags, and team swag. The originality of the presentation prompted players to share their lockers on social, extending the reach of McDonald’s campaign well beyond the games.

Is Experiential Sports Marketing Right for Your Brand?

Experiential sports marketing allows all kinds of brands to use sporting events or athletic endeavors as a means to connect with and create immersive experiences for potential consumers. Whether it’s a chance to try your hand at shooting the game-winning shot, playing AR soccer in a restaurant, or jumping – literally – at the chance to win a new pair of sneakers, these unique activations engage new and existing fans in creative and unforgettable ways.  

Ready to tap into this market for your own brand? Pulling off a successful sports marketing experience requires careful planning, design, and execution. Managing all the details and logistics can be overwhelming for companies that have other marketing initiatives and projects already underway. Partnering with an experiential marketing team can streamline the process, saving you time and money.

Curious to find out more? Schedule a no-pressure introduction to Bridgewater Studio today.



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