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Sporting events ignite unparalleled passion and enthusiasm, offering brands a golden opportunity to engage with a highly targeted audience. According to recent statistics, 67% of fans hold a more positive view of companies that sponsor sporting events. Given these compelling figures, the advantages of sports marketing are clear. In this post, we’ll uncover essential strategies for planning successful sports-based marketing campaigns for 2023 and 2024.

So, what does it take for a successful sporting campaign? Let’s explore some inspiration!

Successful Sport Event Campaigns to Inspire You

Sporting campaigns offer a singular opportunity to engage audiences worldwide. Done well, these initiatives can elicit a spectrum of emotions, from the thrill of victory to admiration for those overcoming challenges. The cornerstone of any successful campaign is a compelling narrative, one that connects across cultures and viewpoints. Below, we present a selection of standout campaigns to spark ideas for your next sports marketing endeavour.

Volkswagen: Turning Fan Engagement into a Viral Sensation at UEFA EURO 2020™

Driving Fan Engagement: As the “Official Mobility Partner,” Volkswagen didn’t just sponsor the event; they became a part of it. Their pint-sized ID.4 remote control car, which carried the match ball to the centre circle, became an overnight social media sensation. This clever move also served as a unique promotional platform for their ID.4 range, integrating product promotion into the fan experience.

Viral Moments Matter: The tiny car not only captured the audience’s attention but also dominated social media. With its own verified Twitter account, @TinyFootballCar, it became a trending topic, proving that small, innovative ideas can create big waves.

Strategic Messaging: Volkswagen used the sponsorship to align with broader themes. Their focus on mobility and e-vehicles resonated with the tournament’s pan-European nature, serving as a platform for their e-mobility family.

Social Responsibility: Beyond the pitch, Volkswagen made a statement on diversity and tolerance with rainbow-colored advertising boards. This aligned the brand with broader social issues, adding depth to their sponsorship.

Takeaway for Marketers: Volkswagen’s approach shows that even small, unexpected elements can create viral moments. The campaign underscores the importance of aligning your brand with larger social and environmental themes to create a meaningful impact.

Coca-Cola: Crafting a Multi-Layered Emotional Narrative for the 2019 Cricket World Cup

Unmissable Moments in Cricket: As an official sponsor of the 2019 Cricket World Cup, Coca-Cola aimed to be more than just a beverage; they wanted to be part of the fan experience. Two campaigns, “Fly to London” and “Be the 12th Man,” were rolled out, starring Indian cinema icons Paresh Rawal and Ranbir Kapoor, as well as cricketers Rishabh Pant and Yuvraj Singh.

Stock Up and Never Miss Out: Early in the tournament, the brand encouraged cricket lovers to be ‘Match Ready’ by stocking up on Coca-Cola. The message was simple: Relish every game-changing moment without leaving your seat, creating a ritual around match-viewing.

12th Man: Your Voice Matters: Coca-Cola amplified fan emotions during high-intensity moments with the ’12th Man’ campaign. This was built around the idea that to be a part of the team, you don’t need to physically be in it. The emotional stakes for fans were encapsulated in this campaign, showing Coca-Cola understood the intense desire for an Indian win.

Impressive Reach: These multi-faceted campaigns not only tapped into the cultural zeitgeist but also garnered substantial engagement online and offline, accumulating 4 billion+ impressions and reaching 70 million+ viewers during the World Cup.

Takeaway for Marketers: Coca-Cola’s multifaceted campaign demonstrates the power of cultural resonance and emotional storytelling in maximising fan engagement. Rather than merely advertising a product, they turned each consumer into the “12th Man,” an integral part of the team. It’s not just about visibility; it’s about becoming a part of your audience’s lived experience during high-stakes events.

Canon: Beyond Sponsorship—Creating Value and Immersion at the 2015 Rugby World Cup

Strategic Synergy with Rugby: Canon, a Japanese powerhouse, harnessed the golden opportunity presented by the Rugby World Cup taking place on their home turf.

Beyond Sponsorship: A Multi-Layered Strategy: Canon’s debut sponsorship at the Rugby World Cup wasn’t just about slapping their name on banners; it was an articulation of their brand ethos, “Unique Perspectives.” With the buzz amplified by celebrity involvement, like Bear Grylls, and campaigns like #CanonRugbyWin, they crafted an integrated, digital-first approach leading up to and during the event.

Digital and Social Synergy: Key features like the Fanpic and Fan Photo Experience captured high-res, 360-degree images, which were engineered for easy social sharing. This broadened Canon’s reach and brand engagement exponentially.

Immersive Fan Experiences: Commemorative photo booths at major venues added an interactive layer to the fan experience. These booths offered rugby-themed snapshots, ensuring that fans had tangible memories to take home.

Leveraging Professional Expertise: Canon’s Professional Services (CPS) team provided on-the-ground support for photographers, reaffirming the brand’s commitment to high-quality imagery and professional integrity.

Takeaway for Marketers: Canon’s involvement in the 2015 Rugby World Cup showcases how a brand can seamlessly integrate itself into the very fabric of an event, not merely as a logo on a banner but as a creator of value. Their multi-faceted approach makes a compelling case for why brands should go beyond mere visibility to craft enriching, shareable experiences that resonate with the event’s audience.

Hisense: Driving Social Impact and Global Brand Recognition at UEFA Women’s EURO 2022

Driving Awareness for Women’s Football: Hisense used their global partnership to boost awareness for women’s football. Their efforts paid off, reaching over 6 million people and making a meaningful contribution to the sport.

Innovative Marketing Campaigns: Beyond traditional methods, Hisense employed quizzes and highlights to keep fans engaged. This strategy led to more than 400,000 social media engagements and over 1 million video views, significantly boosting brand visibility.

#RememberTheName Campaign: Hisense added a layer of social responsibility by offering cashback donations for Women in Sport. This campaign not only engaged consumers but also strengthened Hisense’s brand image, as they matched each donation made.

Building Global Presence: The campaign successfully laid the groundwork for Hisense’s expansion into global markets, solidifying their brand recognition and increasing product sales.

Takeaway for Marketers: Hisense’s approach shows that multifaceted campaigns can offer more than brand visibility. By integrating social responsibility and interactive elements, Hisense created a campaign that was engaging, socially impactful, and beneficial for their global brand.



While the campaigns highlighted above are rooted in official sponsorships, it’s worth noting that impactful marketing can also be achieved without this formal affiliation. However, navigating this landscape requires meticulous planning, a deep understanding of event guidelines, and a commitment to ethical practices.

Nike: Crafting Cultural Icons—The Power of Storytelling in Sports Marketing

Captivating Storytelling: Nike went beyond mere sponsorship by crafting an unforgettable narrative through its “Airport” commercial. Featuring Brazilian footballers and a cameo from Eric Cantona, the ad was set to the tune of the samba classic “Mas Que Nada,” creating an atmosphere that encapsulated the essence of Brazilian football.

Viral Impact: The “Airport” advertisement didn’t just capture audiences at the time; it has remained iconic, even inspiring motifs in ALDI’s 2022 Christmas advert. This underlines how well-executed creative elements can become cultural touchstones, enduring well beyond their initial campaign.

Strategic Investment: Nike’s £24 million investment in the campaign, focused on team sponsorships rather than event sponsorship, enabled them to have a significant presence at the World Cup, even without being an official sponsor.

Legacy and Influence: Beyond immediate brand awareness, the campaign set new standards for sports marketing. Its long-lasting impact serves as an inspiration for marketers to strive for campaigns that stand the test of time.

Takeaway for Marketers: Nike’s 1998 campaign demonstrates the power of storytelling and strategic focus. It showcases how brands can achieve enduring impact and high engagement levels, even without official sponsorship, by creating compelling, culturally resonant content.

Oreo: Seizing the Unexpected—Agile Marketing at the Super Bowl

Spontaneity Meets Strategy: Oreo turned an unforeseen blackout into an opportunity with a swift Twitter ad proclaiming, “Power Out? No Problem.” While appearing spontaneous, the tweet was part of a well-architected social media strategy, retweeted nearly 15,000 times, and exemplified the power of being prepared for the unpredictable.

The Multi-Screen Era: The campaign underscored the need for advertisers to engage audiences not just through TV but also on social platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Oreo’s real-time response reached people on smartphones and computers, effectively maximizing its audience.

Planning for Every Outcome: Oreo’s agility was backed by meticulous planning. The team had even prepared victory tweets in the colours of both the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens, demonstrating the importance of speed and cultural relevance.

A Smart Investment: In a landscape where a single Super Bowl ad spot costs nearly $4 million, Oreo’s real-time social media strategy offered a cost-effective yet impactful alternative.

Takeaway for Marketers: Oreo’s Super Bowl campaign serves as a lesson in agile marketing, showing that readiness and adaptability can outperform even the most high-budget, pre-planned campaigns. It stands as an example of how real-time engagement and cross-platform presence can amplify a brand’s impact.

Beats by Dre: Leveraging Athlete Influence at London 2012 Olympics

Unofficial Presence: Beats by Dre garnered attention by gifting Union Flag-coloured headphones to British athletes, despite not being an official sponsor. The brand found a way to align itself with national pride, but it raised questions about the integrity of sponsorship agreements.

Athlete-Led Visibility: Though International Olympic Committee rules typically prohibit athletes from promoting personal sponsors on social media, some athletes initially tweeted about their new headphones, amplifying the brand’s visibility during the event.

Non-Traditional Methods: Beats by Dre opted for a direct-to-athlete approach, focusing on organic reach through competitors’ platforms. This included interactions around the team hotel, showcasing an alternative route to audience engagement.

Ethical and Legal Considerations: The brand’s tactics tread closely to the line of ambush marketing, potentially infringing on the rights of official sponsors. This approach was not without its risks, as it could have incurred legal repercussions.

Takeaway for Marketers: Beats by Dre’s 2012 Olympics campaign presents a complex case of how guerrilla marketing tactics can create visibility but also risks alienating official sponsors and potentially breaching regulations. It serves as a cautionary tale for marketers contemplating similar high-stakes strategies.


Capitalise on Sporting Events


Navigating the Nuances of Ambush Marketing

What is Ambush Marketing?

Ambush marketing is a polarising strategy where a brand seeks to associate itself with an event without paying for official sponsorship. Coined by marketing strategist Jerry Welsh in the 1980s, the tactic has been employed by both established and emerging brands to gain exposure and compete with official sponsors.

Types of Ambush Marketing

  1. Direct Ambush Marketing: This involves advertisers claiming or implying a formal relationship with an event, which can dilute the impact of actual sponsors.
  2. Indirect Ambush Marketing: Here, the brand aligns itself with the event’s themes or spirit without making a direct association.

Ethical Conundrums

The ethics of ambush marketing are hotly debated. While event organisers and official sponsors often see it as an unethical practice that undermines sponsorship value, brands employing the strategy argue that it’s a form of innovative competition. Public opinion can also sway the perception of such campaigns.

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Ambush Marketing: Balanced Guidelines for Marketers

With careful consideration and thoughtful execution, brands can tread the line and use this strategy to great effect and gain exposure.

  • Due Diligence: Research the event in detail to understand its character and the audience it attracts. This will help in crafting a campaign that complements the event’s ethos.
  • Legal Framework: Be aware of and respect the regulations or restrictions imposed by event organisers and governing bodies. Seek necessary permissions for using any official material.
  • Creativity within Bounds: While innovation is key, ensure your creative endeavours align with legal and ethical standards.
  • Contingency Preparedness: Have alternative plans in place to adapt to unforeseen circumstances, which may include negative reactions or legal hurdles.
  • Branding Considerations: Exercise caution in the use of event names, logos, or slogans. Legal repercussions can arise from infringement.
  • Intellectual Property: Stay informed about the intellectual property rights of the event and its official sponsors. Ignorance is rarely a legal defence.
  • Event-Specific Guidelines: Each event may come with its own rules and regulations. A careful review of these is advised before campaign execution.
  • Impact Assessment: Establish clear metrics such as social media engagement and website traffic to measure the campaign’s effectiveness.

Disclaimer: The above guidelines are for informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice. Always consult a legal professional for advice specific to your situation.

Sporting Events to Keep on Your Radar

Sporting events offer a wealth of opportunities for brands to reach their target audience and create memorable campaigns. Here are some major events that marketers should pay attention to:

2023 Sporting Events

Rugby World Cup

Key Details

Location: France

Date: 8th September – 28th October 2023

Significance: Unmissable for marketers, the Rugby World Cup ranks as the third-largest global sporting event. With its expansive reach, it’s a goldmine for engagement and customer outreach. The Rugby World Cup’s allure extends far beyond the matches themselves. With the eyes of the world watching, brands have an unparalleled opportunity for global exposure, making it an imperative event for any international marketing strategy.

Viewership Statistics

Historical Data:

  • The 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan shattered all previous records, amassing an astounding 857 million global viewers. This represents a 26% surge from its predecessor in England.
  • The finale, a gripping contest between England and South Africa, alone captivated an average live audience of 44.9 million—a benchmark moment in rugby broadcasting.

Demographics and Geography:

  • While the event captures global attention, it resonates powerfully in nations steeped in rugby tradition—think New Zealand, Australia, England, and South Africa.
  • And let’s not forget the host nation: France is set to see a surge in domestic interest, offering a concentrated market to tap into.

Google Trends Geography Overview

Social Media Landscape

General Trends:

  • In 2019, the Rugby World Cup broke new ground by reaching 2.1 billion video views, a jaw-dropping sixfold increase from 2015. Social media engagement rates also doubled, clocking in at an impressive 6%.

Platform-Specific Metrics:

  • The Land Rover Rugby World Cup Daily show was the talk of the town, accumulating nearly 11 million views.
  • Instagram emerged as the superstar platform, driving 40% of 45 million total social media engagements with a staggering 22% engagement rate.

Learn more about the Rugby World Cup as a marketing opportunity here.

Key Details

Location: India

Date: 10th October – 26th November 2023

Significance: A feast for marketers, the Cricket World Cup is a quadrennial spectacle that ranks as one of the most-watched sporting events worldwide. The Cricket World Cup isn’t merely a sporting event; it’s a cultural phenomenon. Whether your brand is entrenched in cricket-loving nations or looking to captivate a newer audience, aligning with this event could be your marketing masterstroke.

Viewership Statistics

Historical Data:

  • The 2019 Men’s Cricket World Cup broke all previous ICC records with a global cumulative average audience of 1.6 billion for live coverage, a 38% increase over the 2015 edition.
  • The most-watched match globally was India against Pakistan, with 273 million unique viewers on linear TV and over another 50 million digital-only viewers.

Demographics and Regions:

  • The 2019 event’s audience comprised 41% women and 32% of viewers aged between 18 to 34, reflecting cricket’s broad appeal.
  • Geographically, the strongest following is in South Asia, particularly India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, along with cricket strongholds like Australia and England. However, growing interest is noted in non-traditional cricketing nations.

Google Trends Geography Overview

Cricket World Cup - Since 2004 - Google Trends

Social Media Landscape

General Trends:

2024 Sporting Events

Australian Open

Location: Melbourne, Australia

Date: 15th – 28th January 2024

The Australian Open is one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments, attracting a global audience. It’s an excellent platform for brands targeting an upscale, international demographic. With a mix of celebrity attendance and high-stakes competition, it offers a sophisticated marketing environment.

African Cup of Nations

Location: Ivory Coast, Africa

Date: 13th January – 11th February 2024

This event is a celebration of African football talent, and it’s a prime opportunity for brands to connect with African audiences. Brands can engage in grassroots marketing, supporting local teams or players, to build a genuine connection with the community.

Six Nations

Location: England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, Wales

Date: 2nd February – 16th March 2024

The Six Nations Rugby Championship is a key event in the rugby calendar, especially popular in Europe. It offers brands a targeted way to engage with fans from six key European nations. It’s a prime opportunity for companies looking to strengthen their European market presence.

Super Bowl

Location: Las Vegas, Nevada, United States

Date: 11th February 2024

The Super Bowl is arguably the biggest event in American sports. It is as much about entertainment as it is about sport, with its famous halftime shows and commercials. Brands can use this multifaceted platform to showcase creativity, whether through innovative ads or interactive social media campaigns.

NCAA Finals (March Madness)

Location: United States

Date: 17th March – 8th April 2024

March Madness captures a wide demographic, from college students to older alumni. Brands can use this event to run multi-generational campaigns that tap into the nostalgia and excitement surrounding college basketball. The event is known for its high engagement rates.


Location: Augusta, Georgia, United States

Date: 8th – 14th April 2024

The Masters Tournament is one of the four major championships in professional golf and is synonymous with tradition and exclusivity. It attracts an affluent, global audience, making it an ideal platform for luxury brands. Brands can use this platform to align themselves with excellence and precision, qualities that resonate well with the sport of golf.

Grand National

Location: Liverpool, United Kingdom

Date: 11th – 13th April 2024

A British horse racing event with global appeal, the Grand National offers brands a chance to engage with a wide demographic, from sports enthusiasts to those who enjoy the social aspects of the event.

Kentucky Derby

Location: Louisville, Kentucky, United States

Date: 4th May 2024

The Kentucky Derby is a blend of sport and spectacle, offering brands a chance to engage in thematic marketing. Whether it’s through fashion-forward campaigns or culinary tie-ins, the event provides a rich tapestry for creative marketing.

IIHF World Championship

Location: Czechia

Date: 10th – 26th May 2024

The IIHF World Championship is a focal point for ice hockey fans, especially in colder climates such as Canada, parts of the U.S., and parts of Europe. Brands can use this event to engage with audiences through campaigns that celebrate the speed and skill of the sport.

FA Cup Final

Location: London, United Kingdom

Date: 25th May 2024

The FA Cup Final is a storied event in UK football, known for its potential for upsets and dramatic storylines. Brands can leverage the event’s rich history and unpredictability to engage fans in emotionally resonant campaigns.

Champions League Final

Location: London, United Kingdom

Date: 1st June 2024

The UEFA Champions League is a gathering of Europe’s top football clubs, offering a high level of play and international star power. Brands can use this event to engage with a passionate fan base, offering exclusive content or experiences that elevate the excitement of the tournament.

NBA Finals

Location: United States

Date: June 2024

The NBA Finals attract a global audience and feature some of the biggest names in sport. Brands can take advantage of the event’s wide reach to engage fans through interactive digital campaigns or collaborations with popular players.

Stanley Cup Finals

Location: United States and Canada

Date: June 2024

The Stanley Cup Finals are the culmination of the NHL season and offer a concentrated dose of high-stakes ice hockey. Brands can use this event to engage with a dedicated fan base, offering promotions or experiences that capture the intensity of the playoffs.

ICC World T20 (Men)

Location: West Indies and United States

Date: 4th June – 30th June 2024

The ICC World T20 is a fast-paced cricket event that attracts a younger, more dynamic audience. Brands can use this event to engage fans through quick and interactive campaigns that match the speed of the game.

US Open Golf Championship

Location: Pinehurst, North Carolina, United States

Date: 13th – 16th June 2024

The US Open is a major golf championship known for its challenging courses and international player field. It attracts a dedicated and affluent audience, offering brands a targeted opportunity to engage with fans who have a deep appreciation for the sport.

UEFA Euro 2024

Location: Germany

Date: 14th June – 14th July 2024

The UEFA European Championship is a quadrennial event that captures the attention of football fans across Europe. Brands can use this event to run pan-European campaigns that celebrate the diversity of European football culture.

Copa América

Location: United States

Date: 20th June – 14th July 2024

Copa América is a celebration of South American football and offers a unique opportunity to engage with a passionate Latin American audience. Brands can use this event to showcase their commitment to the region’s football culture through community-focused campaigns.


Location: London, United Kingdom

Date: June/July 2024

Wimbledon is a blend of tradition and modernity, offering brands a chance to engage with an audience that appreciates both. Whether it’s through campaigns that celebrate the event’s history or through tech-driven fan experiences, Wimbledon offers a versatile marketing platform.

2024 Summer Olympics

Location: Paris, France

Date: 26th July – 11th August 2024

The Summer Olympics are a global showcase of athleticism and cultural exchange. Brands can use this event to run international campaigns that celebrate the unifying power of sport, from athlete partnerships to global social responsibility initiatives.

US Open Tennis Championships

Location: New York, United States

Date: 26th August – 8th September 2024

The US Open is a late-summer staple in the tennis calendar, attracting a wide range of fans. Brands can use this event to engage audiences in end-of-summer campaigns, from back-to-school promotions to travel and leisure tie-ins.

Paralympic Games

Location: Paris, France

Date: 28th August – 8th September 2024

An inspiring global event, the Paralympic Games offer brands a unique opportunity to align themselves with values of resilience and human achievement.

Presidents Cup

Location: Quebec, Canada

Date: 24th – 29th September 2024

The Presidents Cup offers a unique format in golf, featuring teams from the U.S. and the rest of the world. Brands can use this event to engage with a golf-loving audience through campaigns that celebrate the spirit of international competition.

37th America’s Cup Match

Location: Barcelona, Spain

Date: 12th -13th October 2024

The America’s Cup is a prestigious sailing event that attracts a niche, affluent audience. Brands can use this event to offer exclusive experiences or products that align with the luxury and adventure associated with sailing.

Unlocking Winning Sports Related Campaigns

As we find ourselves in the final stretch of 2023, the sporting calendar continues to offer marketers unparalleled opportunities for brand engagement and visibility. From local competitions to global championships, the year has been, and still is, ripe with moments that can elevate your promotional efforts.

While the events of 2023 have been a focal point, the essence of these opportunities is timeless. The appeal of sport as a platform for marketing doesn’t wane with the turning of the calendar pages. So, even as we look ahead to the remaining events this year and begin to set our sights on 2024, remember: the potential for impactful sports-related campaigns is ever-present.

Keep an eye on this post, as we’ll be updating it to include more opportunities for leveraging sporting events in the coming year and beyond. Whether you’re finalising your plans for 2023 or getting a head start on 2024, the arena of sports marketing is a fertile ground for innovative and engaging campaigns.