Like many others, our industry has ground to a halt. It’s been hard watching our healthiest pipeline in our history evaporate into the pandemic ether. Although we have been forced apart our Kru family is very much together in spirit and our focus is on planning for the upturn when we can all get back to doing what we do best: being Kru!
We all understand the necessity of the stringent measures brought in to control the pandemic but at the same time we can’t help but long for the social engagement and excitement that large scale spectator and sporting events usually bring us at this time of the year: UEFA Europa League matches, Open Golf, Formula One, Wimbledon let alone eagerly anticipated occasions such as the Euros and the Olympics.
Listening to last week's Sports Industry SpotLight on Fan Engagement, Richard Adelsberg MD @ Ear To The Ground felt it is short-sighted for our industry to put sport and fan engagement on pause during this time. “It's important that rights holders and brands continue to serve sport to engage with fans during this period” and I couldn't agree more. With live events unable to go ahead, it is intriguing to see how brands react and take charge in this period of ‘limbo.’
So what are rights holders, brands and athletes doing to engage with their fans and how do we keep the spirit of fan engagement alive? Loyal fan bases still want to connect with their favourite team, club or competition. In response brands should be pivoting and adapting by creating new content and ideas to engage with fans more than ever before.
Members of the RFU initiated the #MakeThatCall campaign, a kind, simple gesture in support of rugby fans to help everyone stay connected. Premiership and league level rugby clubs have been taking it in turns to phone fans who may be NHS workers, key workers, the elderly and any other vulnerable people so they still feel part of something.
The London Marathon organisers launched the 2.6 challenge on what would have been the epic race day on Sunday. Although the race didn’t take place runners, spectators and the general public took part from home by contributing their own 2.6 with donations being made to Save the Children.
Now that the Olympics have been postponed to 2021 the world’s best athletes have been sharing their at home training for fans to watch through BBC Sport running an online ‘Quarantine and Chill’ series highlighting some of these for their 300k subscribers to access.
With no live football the FA has created its Europa league focused #FootballsStayingHome campaign which encourages fans to connect and post their own home content using the hashtag. The FA then took this one step further with the #FootballsStayngHome Cup. England’s under 21 team played the online FIFA20 tournament head to head with other England male and female players while in lockdown, with fans viewing from home live on the England team YouTube. The online ‘matches’ have reached nearly 200K global views with the Quarter Finals live Friday just gone with fans itching to see the results.
The Esports community has naturally seen a huge increase in fan engagement and participation since the lockdown was put in place. The FA isn’t the only rights holder to turn to gaming, Formula One also took to hosting a virtual Grand Prix that should have taken place in Bahrain in March and intend to continue the series, inviting fans into their virtual world to watch the race live with a number of F1 drivers at the virtual wheel.
Esports are undoubtedly a go to for fans, filling the void for those who are missing being in sports venues across the globe. With online gaming connecting fans more than ever, our team has been busy hosting our GG Kru ™ assessment sessions with our gaming specialists, covering multiple topics in order to gain a deeper understanding and insight into a range of games, devices and trends. The launch of GG Kru™ coincided with lockdown providing us with ample time to listen and learn. It’s something we feel brands can benefit hugely from to test-run their future fan experience plans. It’s also a great way to product launch direct to target audiences allowing for high levels of interaction and engagement.
Lockdowns are starting to be slowly lifted. It’s been extraordinary to see rights holders and brands creatively come forward and the efforts they have made to stay connected with fans. It can only be good for fans in the future and should allow for new levels of fan experiences.
For now, stay safe and keep healthy. We look forward to working with you all again soon.
Lucy Colgate, Client Experience Director