Sports marketing and everyday athletes

Sport is usually approached by brands in two ways.  Firstly, as part of the basic – yet fundamental – sponsorship bragging rights battle at key high profile events, be it football or motor racing. The other flip side of this has been the sponsorship, or development of, on the ground grassroots initiatives that favour the working sportsman; the Sunday football league or part time marathon runner.

Both have their merits, but there is now a new movement brewing, one that is redefining what sport is and how it fits into the more mundane tasks of everyday life.

Puma kick started this rethinking with its ‘Puma Social’ campaign, a global re-envisioning of sport as a part of a much wider competitive set of events outside the remit of traditional sporting activates. The footwear and apparel brand’s low key celebration of the After Hours Athlete, sees everything from darts and bowling to attempting to score a girl’s phone number in the pub as part of the ‘sport’ we engage in everyday. This positions sport as available to all, and not just the reserve of the more able bodied among us.

Cadbury’s is another brand using a similar, yet more tongue in cheek, variety of the everyman sport aesthetic with its Spots Vs Stripes campaign. A new addition to the overall campaign – a £50M 2012 Olympics investment - offers up ‘Race Season,’ a series of competitions that will see participants attempting to break various speed records. However, there is no 100m sprint involved. These races consist of much more mundane and tactile activities, such as loo roll unravelling, speed typing, coin stacking and a variety of other simple and accessible sporting tasks.

What’s notable about this campaign is now it not only targets the armchair athlete to get up out of their chair and participant in some user generated content, but it also aims certain elements at the ‘cubicle athlete’ – those workers whose only exercise comes from using a keyboard and a mouse. The Scroll-athon, a 100Km mouse based sprint and the Click-athon, a computer windows closing race, are excellent examples of turning the office environment into a mini sporting arena.

The best UGC spots will feature on the Cadbury’s YouTube channel and the brand is also launching a chocolate bar to coincide with the race season (the Big Race bar).

With the Olympics looming expect to see much more sporting activity aimed at an audience that would normally steer clear of traditional sporting venues.

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