As the COVID-19 pandemic reshapes advertising, FOX Sports is offering a fresh playbook to connect brands with desirable sports consumers. Advertisers are rethinking how they reach viewers, what their messaging should be and what to buy. FOX Sports' in-house branded content unit offers innovative new ideas to elevate their game.
The FOX Sports Content Studio produces custom, high-quality content featuring premiere athletes and the network's on-air talent, and helps guide brands through the creative process and intellectual property usage. The result is engaging, entertaining fare that spotlights a brand and resonates with sports fans who love a good story.
"Every brand is trying to figure out their message and narrative that will break through with consumers," said FOX Sports' Senior Vice President of Ad Sales Strategy and Sports Brand Partnerships Dan Donnelly. "Through the FOX Sports Content Studio, we are in a unique position to amplify their message. With our resources and deep expertise across the sports genre, we connect brands and engage our viewers by producing irreverent, entertaining and humorous content to tell their stories."
College football and the NFL are in full swing, and demand for live action is higher than ever. Yet due to the new COVID landscape, many Americans are still separated from their network of friends and family. With most stadiums remaining closed to fans, TV is the main venue to catch your favorite team; offering connection and community to sports fanatics in living rooms across the country.
"Sports is a place where people get back to some type of normalcy," said Donnelly. "As time shifting viewing habits increase, televised sporting events continue to deliver massive live audiences, drive engagement and build passionate fandoms. Additionally, they also generate higher social engagement and buzz that further expands the reach of a marketer's brand message."
Earlier this month, the FOX Sports Content Studio worked with GMC to unveil a high energy branded content series featuring legendary NFL stars and FOX Sports on-air talent. In addition, the two companies worked together to produce custom creative around the highly anticipated launch of GMC's new Hummer EV. When the GMC Hummer EV integration ran during FOX's coverage of Game One of the 2020 World Series, searches related to the vehicle dramatically increased.
For brands, TV sports is also a pathway to enthusiastic, affluent and diverse viewers. Advertisers are experimenting with sports on digital, but TV still offers the largest audiences and maximum impact. Americans are spending more time at home with their screens, and sports is a top viewing choice. With so many available and attentive eyeballs, this is an ideal time to get creative with TV advertising. That's where the FOX Sports Content Studio delivers above its rivals.
"The concentration of our content portfolio and collaboration we have with our colleagues within FOX Sports production and programming provides us the flexibility to be nimble and pivot to address the needs of our clients and provide real-time solutions to deliver meaningful results for their campaigns," said Donnelly. "That's the FOX differentiation that doesn't exist in the marketplace."
These aren't your average TV sports ads. The Content Studio crafts custom, narrative-driven pieces featuring FOX broadcasters like Terry Bradshaw and Joe Buck, as well as well-known pro athletes. The content is infused with the FOX Sports' trademark voice and pace, and it creates a halo effect for brand partners.
"The content that really resonates with our fans is engaging, and you learn something about your favorite teams and player," said Amy Anderson, Vice President of Ad Sales Strategy for the Sports Content Studio, and an 18-year FOX Sports veteran. "We really don't want it to be overly commercialized, and, honestly, neither do brands."
The GMC campaign is the latest work in the FOX Sports Content Studio's growing portfolio. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Content Studio created about 10 to 12 custom campaigns per year. It recently launched a feature with Samsung on the FOX Sports app that spotlights Samsung's 5G capability. Other successful campaigns featured Bradshaw working with Tide; Buck with GEICO during last year's Super Bowl, and Jimmy Johnson with Pizza Hut.
FOX Sports distributes the content across its on-air, digital and social media, as do its partners. Sometimes, brands extend the work beyond FOX Sports. For example, IBM repurposed a still image from work with FOX Sports Sunday host Charissa Thompson for ads in The New York Times and Wall Street Journal. That's a testament to their high-quality campaigns.
FOX Sports' access to industry players is a key difference. Anderson and her team have the biggest sports agents on their speed dial, and they can tap FOX Sports' on-air talent and sports production crews. They work closely with brands and agencies. Anderson noted the athletes have been active participants.
Since COVID-19, it has been more difficult than ever to shoot on-location, but FOX Sports helps brands get out on location. The network has production teams in place covering games and has the capabilities to shoot safely in the field.
"Brands really couldn't dig in and start going out on the road, editing and shooting content on their own," Anderson said. "So, they both relied on and really enjoyed coming to us. We have the infrastructure, and we're really good at it."
FOX Sports execs are experts on the media and ad landscape, and they know how to maximize sports' massive opportunity. Anderson's team works closely with clients and their agencies to shape business goals and then devise creative. She noted it goes in that order because the creative needs to tell their story.
"We're not here to tell the brands what they need to do," Anderson noted. "They need to tell us what their objectives are, and then with collaboration we find the solutions."
The results are brand-driven campaigns that deliver for fans and the advertisers, and FOX Sports executes with precision. "The content we deliver is very relevant to what the viewers want and developed through the lens of sports with our very best storytellers," Anderson concluded.
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