Get Psyched for the Season with a Mural Dedicated to Fans
For most of 2020, athletes played in nearly empty venues, and fans high-fived on sofas in front of TVs instead of cheering their hometown heroes in person. Adding to the seemingly never ending list of disruptions, the pandemic kept us physically apart and interrupted our seasonal rituals — including our lives as sports fans.
With the vaccine distribution underway, there’s hope we’ll soon be back in stadiums, experiencing the thrill of the sports we love in person. That’s why it’s so important for sports marketers to revamp their marketing strategy now, including plans to build awareness, reactivate fan loyalty to drive merch sales, and keep fans connected and engaged so they’re excited about the coming return to in-person events.
During 2020 league play, many football, baseball, soccer, hockey, and basketball teams placed life-sized photos of fans in seats. The photos were a way to include fans symbolically when they couldn’t be there, but now it’s time for teams to show up where the fans are — in their communities.
Team Murals Create a Connection
An eye-catching, larger-than-life team mural is a terrific way for sports franchises to use art to connect with fans right at home. After the Los Angeles Clippers signed All-Star Kawhi Leonard, they built excitement for the coming season with an 8,000 square-foot mural, complete with augmented reality features. In our hometown (shoutout to the Windy City!), we worked with The Chicago Fire as they commissioned a striking mural to support a new team logo rollout, underscore the club’s commitment to the community and highlight up-and-coming athletes.
The Houston Astros used murals to create an exciting experience for fans and extend the team’s presence in Houston-area neighborhoods in the 2019 post-season. The Astros, who were in the 2019 Fall Classic to follow up on their 2017 championship season, commissioned murals in the Houston metro area around the “Take It Back” theme scattering murals around the city after each new win.
Fans flocked to the sites, taking selfies in front of the murals and generating tons of social media shares. The Astros even created a mural scavenger hunt for fans, using team murals to deliver an experience that gave fans a neighborhood connection to the Astros, plus a sense of camaraderie with fellow fans outside the confines of Minute Maid Park. In return, the team got lots of free media and fan loyalty.
Show Up and Show Fans Some Love with Art
Fans need love now more than ever. It’s been about a year since the pandemic started disrupting our lives, and the isolation has left us craving connections. Sports franchises can show up where fans live, provide some fun and color in their lives and build excitement for the season at the same time.
As the Houston Astros’ successful campaign with team murals shows, there are all kinds of ways sports franchises can build fan experiences around art. And there’s also new evidence that right now is a uniquely opportune moment to invest in team murals.
Research by the Out of Home Advertising Council of America and The Harris Poll shows that people are more appreciative of their outdoor surroundings after being cooped up for months. They’re exploring their neighborhoods, and 45% report that they notice out-of-home ads more now.
Teams can take advantage of that new appreciation for outdoor spaces with a mural that ties in with other marketing and community engagement efforts. Marketers can integrate campaign elements like VIP art experiences, limited edition print giveaways or artist-painted basketballs for season ticket holders. Embedded QR codes can link fans to offers for ticket discounts or team swag. Teams can also sponsor murals at local courts or playing fields to lift up communities.
The possibilities for creative marketing around murals are practically endless, and campaigns that include larger than life art created by local artists are an awesome way to drum up enthusiasm for the team’s upcoming season. But even more importantly, when sports teams show up, it gives fans the love and connection they crave.