We Talkin’ ‘Bout Practice, Man
“We talkin’ ‘bout practice, man.”
Allen Iverson’s 2002 practice rant may have happened more than 17 years ago, but his words still relate to the effort players give on practice days versus game days. And, while some would probably prefer to miss training, in our ever-evolving world of social media, practice sessions aren’t just an important time for players to hone skills or increase endurance — it’s an opportunity for teams’ social media accounts to give engagement and exposure for some of their biggest brand partners.
Training occurs in a more controlled environment where outside influences — like a photographer or social media team — have much more ownership over the content created. From training grounds to training jerseys, teams can leverage Blinkfire Analytics’ data and content by:
1. Measuring whitespace and using comparative data as a benchmark.
2. Adjusting posting and/or content strategy during the preseason, season, or off-season.
3. Providing best practices and use cases for the value driven to use for partner renewals or selling.
Now, with those nuggets of wisdom in mind, let’s talk about some of the ways teams can give exposure to sponsors on days where players + coaches put in the hard work to excel on game day – even if “practice” wasn’t Iverson’s favorite thing to do.
Training & Practice Grounds Signage — Creatively & Thoughtful
When watching a game of just about any major sport or league, the area around the field is typically focused on major national brands and in some cases free from most brand exposure — like in the NFL.
However, when it comes to practice, teams are much more in control of the signage and the different ways in which to record the action.
Even if your organization doesn’t have 100% fill rate on signage, training facilities provide new inventory that can either be sold to a marquee partner or added as controllable inventory for existing partners to boost relationships.
No matter the length of a season (the NFL’s regular season is 16 weeks compared to MLB’s which spans over six months), training facilities can be shown to a separate, engaging audience through an ever-increasing number of social channels — an audience that might not physically attend a game or practice. Plus, a 16-week season becomes longer when taking into consideration the pre-season and off-season.
European soccer giants like Juventus, Valencia, and PSG are masters at photographing exposure of partner signage around the field. At training sessions, teams control the content that is published (and can be more deliberate + creative) rather than game day action dictating much of the coverage, so use that to your advantage!
Training Patch & Jersey Partner Exposure — Be More Strategic
While the NBA and MLS are the only major American leagues to allow sponsorship on in-game jerseys, the NFL and NHL allow teams to wear patches on their practice jerseys. Additionally, many soccer clubs around the world have separate partners on their training jersey versus in-game jersey sponsor, and practice content is where that brand earns the most exposure!
European champions Liverpool partner with AXA Insurance on their training jerseys while Beko receives millions upon millions of engagements and earned media exposure every week from FC Barcelona’s training session content.
The NFL hasn’t introduced in-game jersey patches…yet…but brands like AT&T (Dallas Cowboys), Gillette (New England Patriots), Xfinity (Houston Texans), and Hyundai (Arizona Cardinals) receive exposure from NFL teams during preseason and regular season practices — as a result of smart, strategic photography. Sports fans can’t get enough content around the team, so give it to them!
In the NHL, not only are there opportunities during practice to give exposure for jersey patch sponsors, but also morning skate can mean featuring dasher board partners since game time action is often too quick to catch them.
In a 26-second video from a Canucks morning skate, 12 dasher board partners received exposure! Can you beat that?
Practice Facility Naming Rights Partners — Show the Value
“If you build it, he will come” said a mysterious voice in the Iowa cornfields to Kevin Costner’s Ray Kinsella in Field of Dreams. While this meant building a baseball diamond for the Black Sox Scandal baseball players to magically appear, the quote also rings true today. If you build a new NBA training facility, the brands vying for naming rights will flock.
You won’t see content from a Cleveland Cavaliers practice without Cleveland Clinic earning well-deserved exposure in the background, while Lympo received nearly six figures of exposure as Luka Doncic posted this photo from training.
Pro Tip: With Instagram’s launch of Creator Accounts targeting artists, public figures, and influencers, more and more athletes are switching from Personal Accounts to Creator Accounts. Creator Accounts offer more insights into posts and audience data AND posts can be brought into Blinkfire Analytics’ platform (like Luka Doncic’s). Which means…added value for teams’ brand partners!
As teams refine strategies around content from training sessions, the Blinkfire Analytics team supports customers every step of the way, sharing best practices from sports and leagues around the world. After the work is done on the field, court, or ice? Blinkfire Analytics empowers sales, marketing, and partnership activation with the data to better understand the value driven for partners.
See Al…practice isn’t so bad after all!