Intersection of Sports & Storytelling

At Knight Eady, we take a lot of pride in telling our story, because we believe it helps others understand where we came from and serves as a reminder to us about the progress we have made. Telling our story also opens up opportunities for people to connect and identify with us and gives our company some character and depth by being vulnerable and honest. I love getting to know people, companies, brands, and organizations at a deeper level, so anytime I have the chance to hear their story, I take it. Apparently I am not in the minority, because according to various speakers at Advertising Week in New York City, most consumers today crave the “behind the scenes” information from their favorite sports teams, celebrities, and brands. People are looking to connect with people, not just products, so projecting information and talking to the consumer is no longer sustainable for companies. We must think of ways to uniquely tell our stories and listen to what the consumer wants. And it isn’t enough to just tell our story; we must engage the consumer in the delivery and allow them to have a personal experience – moving from just story telling to story doing.

The main objectives we need to accomplish when telling our story is first to be noticed which is achieved by creating an emotional connection, then remembered by being unique, and then understood by being simple. The ultimate goal is to try to make your audience laugh, cry and think, because then that will stir up every emotion. Many people, especially those of us that fall into Generation Y, can read through the “fluff” that companies try to get away with when telling their story. If your brand is not believable and authentic, you will not last. People crave drama and tension in stories, because it creates interest and entertainment and seems more realistic, which is why the best movies and TV shows succeed with an antagonist and a protagonist you can root for, or against. The same should apply to our brand stories, because no one likes predictability. For instance, fans don’t want to just see their favorite player dominate on the field and win a game, they want to understand their injuries, weaknesses and fears leading up to the game and see them as a real person. The WNBA does an incredible job of presenting their athletes as real people through the video that aired before the playoffs began which successfully stirs emotions and creates excitement. Another great example of a brand using storytelling to create stronger bonds with their demographic is Gatorade. They use Serena William’s powerful personal story to tell their brand story through their advertisements, which always include some drama.

Luckily for those of us who work in the sports industry, sports is seen as the ultimate human drama unfolding in real time, so anyone associated with the game has the ability to be a part of a dramatic, entertaining, unpredictable story. Sports showcase the raw, real and messy parts of human nature, which our target customer is craving, and brands need to recognize. Our priority as a sports marketing firm should be to capture this passion that revolves around teams, players and the game and integrate brands into the story. We will be most successful when we can move from just telling the stories to creating narratives that bring brands to life and allow people to experience the story.

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