Stadium Activations - The Rules


The sports fan experience is one which brands and sponsors tackle often in marketing. Sports sponsorship continues to grow at an incredible rate as brands, marketing managers and agencies vie for their piece of the pie. With it, they are looking for their own niche or human connection that sets them apart from the rest, to not dive into the “sea of sameness”. One instance which marketers are continuously trying to tackle is the match day and stadium experience. It’s a tricky one.

This fan engagement piece has been doing the rounds this week. A perfect example of understanding the various rules that apply to stadium fan activations.

Here are the rules that apply:

  • Your audience is mostly in flux with little or no dwell time. With every activation you must realise you are borrowing heavily from your audience journey. This can be said for majority of public brand activations, but it is a much fiercer battleground around the match day experience. The vast majority of your audience just wants to get to their seat in the stadium, A-B, with a little wiggle room put aside for refreshment and friends.

  • The numbers game. Yes there may be 60-70,000 people in attendance. Upwards of 80% of those arrive in the last 30mins before the main event, and leave within 30mins of it ending.* So while footfall is high, your window of opportunity is extremely low. This means your experience must be streamlined with military precision and the user journey shortened to less than 60seconds. To hit high numbers of interactions you have to build multiples. People might queue, but queues kill creation. Temper your KPIs on time not population.

  • Your brand is not the hero. Nobody is heading to the game to see what your brand is going to do. The teams or sportspeople are the draw and you’ll never overshadow them. Lend yourself to the experience and leverage the personalities where you can without trying to replace. Yes it’s obvious. Still worth noting.

  • Fans vs casual supporters. Yes there will be a large cohort of die-hard fans who live, eat, sleep and breathe the sport, but there will also be a huge percentage of passive attendees. Better halves or family members brought along, corporate guests, the “I was there when” crowd. Die-hard fans are easier to target with some activation because they are 100% there to show support, wear the colours, make the noise. The passive supporters need to be pushed a little harder to engage – fun factor and incentive are much more of a play.

  • Everything you do dies during the action. Once the referee’s whistle is blown you may as well shut up shop, unless you’re selling refreshments at lightning speed or putting people in hot tubs at the side of the pitch to view the game. All eyes will be on the athletes.


On the playing field, it’s the seconds that count, they can be the difference between winning and losing. The same can be said for stadium activations, you’ve got one shot at the title, make sure you’re in position.

- GC

Gavin Coffey