• Nick Lawson

How You Can Authentically Add Sponsors Into Your Health & Safety Messaging

We’re on the horizon for getting fans back into our stadium barring a major health setback. (knock on wood). With fans back we’ll need to ensure that they feel safe, are safe, and still have a great experience in our stadiums while feeling healthy.


But in these regulations, we’ll most likely see our stadiums at half capacity. This means the sponsors that buy (or already bought) assets will most likely be looking for ways to connect more with your fans.


This week on The Inches podcast Rich & I dove into how you can authentically connect your fans with sponsors through health & safety messaging and campaigns.


You can listen to the whole episode HERE. But as always read below for some key insights from our chat.


Safety & health messaging with be vital for regulations AND your fan’s piece of mind


First, let’s talk about why you’ll need safety & health messaging. First…it’s the right thing to do for your organization. We always want to create spaces where our fans feel safe to come, cheer, and enjoy our game day experience.


To put the health & safety message on the back burner or at secondary priority is to say you take their safety as a second priority. We simply cannot let this happen nor should it be the stance of our team.


Our fans will feel some anxiety to coming back and being in large crowds. How can we take that anxiety and flip it so that they have no question when they walk into our stadiums?


An overemphasis & communication on the ways you are keeping them safe. They need to without any hesitation understand that your stadium is THE safest place they will walk into this month.


Second, we can’t forget that fans have never experienced gameday post-pandemic. To expect them to be educated on the process of being healthy creates a huge problem.


Let’s ensure that we set the standard of how fans should interact in your stadium. How they should enter, sit, buy food, walk on the concourse, everything.


If you can over educate, you can get the message of safety ingrained into the culture of your game day. Into the very ethos of your in-stadium experience & culture.


Ok, Nick. This is all great…but where does sponsorship fit into this?


Activation has a better recall, this is how you make up for the lost in-stadium reach


As we think about the process of notifying & educating our fans on health & safety we are actively attracting their attention.


It is not just a sign (most of the time). It will need to be an active action as opposed to a passive one (even if that passive asset is a sign, let’s put it into an active way to grab attention by being different…more later).


If we are actively reaching our fans there is the ability to help activate our sponsors. In fact, active activation in sponsorship has a greater recall & value for your sponsors.


This education and messaging process we go through with our fans will be a prime opportunity to help ingrain our sponsors into the activation.


As we push into this process of getting fans back we have an uphill battle to make up the assets we lost. We have to find any and all opportunities to make this lost revenue and connection up.


Simply put, it is too good of an opportunity to pass up.


Think about how you can sync message with sponsor


Even though this is an opportunity to connect fans to our sponsors….we cannot just slap a sponsor on the messaging.


This is a very delicate subject of safety & health of our fans. It is a powerful statement that we care about the well being of the fans that have supported our team.


As we look at ways to incorporate our sponsor the most vital thing will come with authenticity. How can you insert the sponsor and their values into the message so authentically that a fan wouldn’t think twice about it?


Obviously there are thousands of ways to do this…but I pulled some that came to my mind and listed them below to help get you started.


Food sponsor talking about concession hygiene on a message video


You may have seen it already but many of the large food chains have also had the task of educating their consumers on health & safety measures they are taking.

Many of these chains are big sponsors.


We probably will be making an ‘airline-safety’ type video that informs our fans on the steps we are taking to be safe as well as how they should act in the stadium to be safe.


During that video, we should have the food sponsor go over the safety tips and steps for fans. This will immediately build trust with that restaurant from the fans and helps tell a vital message that their locations are also safe.


This simple activation & integration into the main health & safety video can bring an immense amount of value to the partner.


New spaces mean new assets, even in your restrooms


We’ve chatted about this before but prior to you open your building you’ll want to do a walkthrough and visualize where you will have open assets.


There will be physical situations where we have to social distance….and our restrooms are one of them.


If we didn’t take the time to think about our physical spaces…this is what we may see in our stadium restrooms:


This is economical, safe, and gets the message across. But is there an opportunity to integrate a sponsor into this situation?




A simple changing of mindset can open up new assets and keep our fans safe. Imagine the recall and impression this will leave the fan with.


Now, in all transparency, I’m not sure this is the best sync up to sponsor with assets. Maybe a plumbing or specific restroom product would be a better fit than a soda can in the restroom.


The point though is simple integrations like these can open up a ton of new and unexpected assets in your arena.


Deep clean brought to you by the cleaning company


I big message will be how the arena is deep cleaned every night to help keep germs away and create a safe environment for fans. I envision that almost every game day will bring a massive wipe down of seats, chairs, tables, bars, all of the above.


If you have a cleaning sponsor, this is the perfect sync up. You’ll most likely need to create video content around this to show the process of cleaning the arena. This is a great moment to sync a cleaning brand with this educational content.


These are the sync ups you should be looking for. A transfer of your trust to their product. When fans go back to that cleaning aisle for their supplies, that brand will be top of mind.


Car partner/dealer faces cover that fits in the space between the fans (like bus stop bench ads)


We need to get very creative with our open spaces. Again we have $17Bn to make up in the sponsorship industry.


From what it is sounding like, we won’t have half of our fans in the arena. This will most likely mean there will be about 6 seats between families or groups. We could just leave the seats empty…but open space brings inventory. And again we can’t waste it.


What if we filled those seats with print outs of the dealers (like literally their human image) at your car sponsor’s dealerships and put them in the empty seats.


They could all be wearing polos with the car sponsor logo. Some could be whole cars with the new model.


The first item here is fans will be able to see this on TV during close-ups and when it pans during the game. You will get the TV reach for the brand.


But you shouldn’t stop there. We put the dealers on there to help build that familiarity with the people at the company as buying a car is very much a relationship transaction. The fans in the stadium will literally be sitting next to the dealer (well, the cut out).

Take the fact that they will be sitting next to the dealer and create a selfie campaign where the fan tweets which dealer they are sitting next to. I would put the dealer’s twitter handle on the board and have fans tag the dealer and a hashtag (#sittingnext2toyota) that fans can take a selfie with the stand-up.


The social media buzz & connections with that dealer is a bond that you are facilitating with this campaign. What are the chances that one of those fans are looking for a new car?

If they are, what are the chances that they call or tweet that salesperson to do the deal?


This is how you can take what most might just put a logo on and really create a deep connection with the salesperson. We can’t get lazy with logo coverings…we must get creative toward our sponsor goals.


Don’t overdo it or be too light-hearted


Above are just a few ideas of how you can integrate your sponsors into the health and safety messages and procedures. I am 100% confident you can find your unique ways to create assets like the ones above…honestly even better than the ones above.


One thing we must remember though is the pandemic is an extremely delicate situation. People have died and jobs have been lost.


We should not take this light-heartedly. We can’t overdo it.


Use your judgment here and ask yourself, “If I had someone affected by the virus, would I be comfortable with this activation?”


There is a fine line here. Make sure you are authentically integrating your sponsors.


This can open up more inventory for the ones we lost if done correctly


I have been bringing this up a lot but it needs to be said as many times as necessary to make it stick.


We have $17Bn in sponsorship revenue to make up.


As we look at our safety & health measures and education there are ways we can absolutely integrate our sponsors and bring key activation to their goals.


If all goes well, we’ll have fans back…but at half capacity. If we can open new creative ways to connect them to sponsors through these safety measures…we can put a huge dent in the sponsorship revenue we lost.


Be safe, be authentic. But don’t be lazy. These are the assets that may save us.


Written by Nick Lawson from SQWAD.


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