Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Fan is Forever

Sport touches everyone. A recent study I read about on sports and happiness says that having a winning NFL football team boosts the wallets of a city's inhabitants by a full $120, making harder workers and bigger spenders, while increasing happiness and self confidence. Even if your team is not winning, sports fans remain dedicated, sometimes even obsessed. This is because following a team is a pure example of an emotional connection; an experience that is part frustrating and part exquisite pride and happiness. We all love the feeling of community, the emotional tug on the heart-strings, the hope that maybe, just maybe, this will be the year.

It's a dream of hope that springs eternal! As a fan, what you experience is Loyalty Beyond Reason, and as a Manchester City fan I know exactly what this means! What truly matters in the end is performing, not simply winning.

Last week I gave a keynote address to the big players in the US sports world at the Relay Sports Symposium in New York. Most of the conference involved investigating the relationship between sponsor and team (or club). I wanted to focus on the connection that irrevocably binds fan, team and sponsor, so I gave the sports nuts seven ideas to build Loyalty Beyond Reason around a sports team. These are ideas that can grow value for one and all: fans, brand marketers, sponsors, managers and boards.

1. Share a dream. One Team, One Dream. Sponsor, owner, player and fan. A mission isn't going to light up the ball park. Feel like a family, play like a team.

2. Connect with emotion. Ditch rational-based marketing and move people to your cause.

3. Move from Irreplaceable brands to Irresistible. Lovemarks.

4. Check in with reality. Do you just want to be respected, or loved and respected?

5. Use Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy, the three secrets.

6. Seal it with Sisomo. Hand your brand over to fans and connect with the family of screens. They'll take good care of it!

7. Perform at Peak. Create the conditions for Flow. Just like the best sports people, find the zone where passion and harmony put you at your best.

Once you've got Loyalty Beyond Reason, you're all fans. The great thing about fans is that they all face the same way and dream the same dream. Turn that group into a winning team and scientists and economists say it's worth $120 each and bundles of happiness, which is priceless. Which all confirms what husbands have always known and wives have feared for years. Watching sport is good for you!


Innovation Sourcing said...


I am working in a group that favors emotions and tries to interlink your lovemarks (special edition beauty) approach with co-creation, psychodrama and innovation, offering an emotional solution for clients.

I would be quit interesting if you would have some stimulating inputs.


Piotr Jakubowski said...

I think it would be truly interesting to explore the difference between a "rabid" sports fan in the US and a "rabid" sports fan in Europe.

I'm sure both share the LBR for their clubs and teams. I recently heard about how one of the presidential candidates, when promoting the farm team for the Chicago Cubs (the Iowa Cubs) mentioned in his introduction that he wishes the Cubs good luck, but is a White Sox fan.

I think true fans are the ones who stick with their teams through thick and thin. I remember years ago Leeds United was a powerhouse in the Premiership, along with other clubs like Nottingham Forest or Wimbledon. They've disappeared from the upper echelons, yet still fill their stadiums with plenty of loyal fans.

In a twisted way, hooligans are the epitomy of LBR. I'd watch out for those who are willing to face danger for the "honor" of their club.

Anonymous said...

Interesting points Kevin.
I googled "loyalty" and I got an "Error 404" message.
In my opinion the word "loyalty" has been deleted from the dictionary by the corporate world that is preoccupied with marketshare and pandering to shareholders and stakeholders.
I wholehearted agree with you that a fan is forever. I was born in Christchurch, grew up in Auckland, and have lived the majority of my life in Australia. My support of Canterbury, the All Blacks, and the Crusaders has never faltered...for self-preservation, I don't spruik about it in the presence of Aussies.
To me a team sponsor is a person or business made up of people that gives unconditional (illegal and/or immoral activities excepted) support to a team or sporting organisation. A sponsor that is primarily focussed on involvement to facilitate a return for their investment will be a fair-weather benefactor to the team.
A fan, and to a great extent a team, is forever but the sponsor is not. How many sponsored names have the Wallabies had? The All Blacks name says it all.
Lane Walker Rudkin is a brand that has travelled a long journey with the All Blacks ...well beyond sponsorship arrangements.
A sponsor should only be bound by what they may be able to afford or can put into a sport or team for altruistic motives. The local small business should support the local team or club to enable children in the community to have the opportunity to be involved in sport.
What does the fan do that believes in his or her team but doesn't believe in the sponsor? The fans will display tacit loyalty to the sponsor via supporting their team. The fans do not have a time-framed or results-based contract.
When times are tough, the team may give the fans a purpose to struggle through in their lives. Will the sponsor be as inspiring and perhaps give the fans employment? Or will the sponsor transfer "loyalty" to a winning team?
Kevin, as the face of a sponsor, I feel you are perhaps the exception and benchmark. You have acquired lifelong friends and deep-seated belief in a team through your involvement as a sponsor.
The sponsor that thinks beyond marketshare and corporate functions, and shares the dream of the fans, is the true sponsor of the team and sport.