• Footprints

What We Can Learn From Big Brand Advertising In A Pandemic

2020 was meant to be the year of sport. We were braced for all our usual favourites, with the added bonus of big events like the Olympics and the Euros. However, the pandemic put a stop to that and for a while, we didn’t even know if any sport was going to happen. Confined to our homes, the lack of sport on tv couldn't go unnoticed.


Fortunately, some elite sport started to be allowed but under strict restrictions and secure bio sphere protocols.


One of those restrictions was banning crowds from the grounds and in a bid to create the buzzing atmosphere at the big games, stadiums and broadcasters alike tried different methods to recreate it. From plugged-in crowd noise to cardboard cutouts in stadium seats, we’ve been presented with a different viewing experience. Socially distanced pundits are now wrapped in big coats as interviews are conducted outside.


And while, sport has made a welcome return to our screens, one thing for us at Footprints that really stood out, was how advertisers adapted to the situation into an opportunity to promote their brands.



With empty stadiums across the country, big arenas looked for ways to create a less oppressively vacant space whilst also make up for lost revenue from absent supporters. Now, as well as access to the placement of advertising on the digital screens on pitch side barriers, advertisers can also grab visibility through enormous branded drapes spanning sections of seating. Every time the camera pans over the stadium or goes pitch side for a throw in or line out, these brands can’t be missed.


So what can we learn from the way advertising has been adapted at the big games? Here are 5 lessons we can take away from these opportunities and applied on a smaller scale to your own business.


1. There are always advertising opportunities from which to take advantage.


You just need to pivot to the situation. You can’t go doggedly on with the same strategy or idea if the parameters and psyche have changed. You must move with the times and place your business in the best possible place. Identify what that place is and go there.


2. Advertising is still important.


These big brands seemingly don’t need to advertise. Why would you when everyone knows your name? To ensure you’re still front of mind you need to show you’re still around, still relevant. Without promotion, your brand power depletes and there is always competition who is willing to take up your space.


3. Sometimes simple is better.


These brands looked at the medium with which they’d be viewed and kept it simple. There were no messages, no straplines, no beautiful images; just a logo, a name and a block colour. Why? Because no one is looking for them. No one is reading their messages. They have a short time to tell people they are there. The objective is name awareness and reiteration of recognition. Sometimes that's all that's needed.


4. Not everything can be measured.


This is the most interesting for us. We all expect marketing to be measured precisely now. The digital message has been all about data and information and as such expectations are that you should be able to know your ROI at any time. However, this isn’t always the case. It’s called the attribution model and it’s more about the whole marketing mix working together to achieve the business objectives (not just marketing). This one element contributes to an overall aim, it doesn't work in isolation but supports other work and activity all working towards achieving the business goals. It recognises that there are many ways in which we make a decision and this cannot always be solely directed at one area.


Even with digital marketing such as PPC and Email Campaigns, the aim is for interaction and you can measure their performance based on certain behavioural metrics, however they shouldn't be viewed in isolation. For that interaction to happen, other marketing activity needs be working to promote the brand and push familiarity with it.


It may be that it is the click that acquires the customer but is is likely a combination of seeing you at an event, seeing your ad in a magazine, seeing an article written about you, heard their friend mention your name, which has lead to them being susceptible to clicking on your email. That’s the attribution model. Without it, that email would’ve fallen on deaf ears and that’s why it's difficult to measure.


5. Advertising helps sales


Of course, this seems like an obvious point. What we mean is that it helps your sales process. This attribution marketing model is so important to your cold calling sales process. Sure, you’ll get through to some people and sure, you’ll be able to eventually get a deal after some persistence but a warmed lead is much better. Advertising, however big you are, is an essential part of that warming up process. Familiarity breeds trust and that is what marketing promotion enables. This in turn opens doors for your sales people.



So, if the big guys still think it’s important to advertise, there’s a lesson in there for us all.


The data you get from digital marketing is powerful but it's important to view marketing in the context of the bigger business picture. Some activities can't be measured as accurately but are just as essential to achieving your overall objectives.


What opportunities for promotion have you spotted in challenging times? Perhaps you think everything must be measured in this digital age? Let us know in the comments, we love to hear them.

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