I’d be lying if I didn’t say that my favourite event of April was the Super League Triathlon Arena Games in the London Aquatics Centre – a relatively new format for triathlon that has altered the way in which the sport is spectated, much like The Hundred in cricket.
he SLT Arena Games sees triathletes competing in the virtual world of Zwift, also the competition’s major sponsor. The format reduces the time that the athletes race for when swimming in the pool, riding on a stationary bike and running on a self-powered treadmill; the latter two elements are simulated virtually in the Zwift world.
This altered way of spectating sees large viewing screens showing the virtual world race while fans take sight of the athletes on their stationary equipment, making it easier to engage in the action because it’s right in front of you. The different rounds increase anticipation, with flame cannons and a bar also adding to the entertainment value that is somewhat lacking from other endurance sport races.
This three-minute Gymshark video focuses on the obstacles that boxer Ryan Garcia has had to face in and out of the ring during his career, with a voiceover providing some reflection on his journey so far. Launched in support of Garcia returning to the ring after a one-year hiatus, it finishes with the inspiring pay-off line: “It's not about where you're from, but how far you're prepared to go.”
Despite not being an avid boxing or Gymshark fan, I felt the brand did an excellent job of provoking an emotive response to the content – an effective approach to building a rapport with prospective consumers. The content also helps Gymshark present itself further as a community-driven brand, enhancing their social media activity which often features user-generated content (UGC).
A number of US sports teams have recently taken an ‘anti-billboard approach’ – a move facilitated by American marketing agency Muros and which aims to connect artists with brands. This new take on producing artwork and advertisements has helped sports teams such as the New York Rangers connect more with their local fans through graffiti-style murals instead of traditional billboard advertising.
I feel this is a very visually effective and modern way of looking at brand promotion, especially to the younger generation. While most brands might think that the only way to reach this generation is through the use of social media, the work that Muros are doing is helping sports brands to stand out outside, on the street, and away from the digital world.
Lately, Guinness’ Twitter page has been full of some superb PR stunts. Earlier in the year, we saw them use the format of a black background and Wordle squares to promote their product in a witty fashion. And in April we saw them tease and later release their Cold Brew Coffee Beer through some intriguing posts hinting at a coffee-beer hybrid beverage that was set to land.
So far the critics haven’t been too complimentary of the product, but there’s no knocking the impact of the launch on social media.
While not quite sports marketing, we continue to see food and drinks brands sponsoring sporting events. This year, Guinness sponsored the Women's Six Nations series, alongside social media sensation Tiktok and Breitling, helping to boost the popularity and media attention around women's sport.