Scoring Big with Sports Advertising
Read time: 5 minutes
When COVID-related restrictions threatened to put traditional sporting events on ice for another season in late 2020, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) got creative, developing a conference schedule that would protect the health and safety of student-athletes and officials – while keeping the competition alive for spectators.
The NCHC scheduled all games at one central location – or pod – in Omaha, NE, to control contact and limit player travel. The result was a marquee event on Midco Sports Network that satisfied hockey-hungry spectators desperate to see live sports again. While hockey fans cheered for their favorite college teams, the local businesses that ran ads and sponsorships throughout the three-week schedule scored with every puck drop.
Loyal Fans, Happy Brands
“Not only was in-person attendance at games affected by the pandemic, but we also had months of no games at all. I knew viewership would be high for this pod series,” said Alesha Hansen, owner of Flaär, a company in Grand Forks, ND, that turns photos into modern art.
Flaär had never advertised on television before, but through sales and website analytics, Hansen saw an overlap between regional sports fans and her customer base.
“We were amazed by the number of customers that mentioned our MidcoSN ads after our spots ran during the NCHC hockey pod,” said Hansen. “I was so happy with the performance of the schedule that I’ve encouraged other local business owners to advertise on MidcoSN.”
The stats for the pod were impressive. In fact, the event racked up MidcoSN’s highest ever – with 272,000 live household views across all markets. Plus, in-game sponsors received the added benefit of having their logos on re-airs of the games, which generated another 125,000 views.
The Ultimate Power Play
“We placed 30-second commercials within the pod games, but also added an intermission element,” said Suzie Kenner, Executive Director of Devils Lake Tourism. “During intermissions, the announcer would read: ‘This intermission report brought to you by Devils Lake Tourism. Check out their website at DevilsLakeND.com for the latest ice and fishing reports and to book your winter vacation today.’ Our commercials kept our website fresh in viewers’ minds, and as they waited for the game to continue, our intermission messages prompted them to go ahead and look us up.”
As a result, Devils Lake Tourism’s website traffic tripled web hits during the same period the previous year. “We came into the month of December slow on bookings around the area, and then bookings soared and filled up our winter months. By the end of December, everyone was positioned really well for the remainder of the season.”
Creative, Effective Commercials
“We’ve been advertising with MidcoSN for about 10 years,” Kenner said. “In addition to smart placements, Midco’s creative team is amazing! They have produced some great commercials for us. They understand our goals and needs, and really do such an outstanding job.”
Lisa Swanson, Communications Director for Grand Forks, ND-based Hugo’s Family Marketplace, agrees, “Midco’s production team is so creative! They are willing to work with us to get exactly what we want in our commercials. They brainstorm with us, which is fabulous.”
During the hockey pod, Hugo’s ran commercials and also added the social sponsorship element.
“We heard from many people about how often they saw our ads,” Swanson said. “The social sponsorship added a whole other level of engagement. During the pod, MidcoSN pulled the top five clips from the University of North Dakota’s ten games and shared on their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram channels, tagging our social handles in the posts – which we reshared on our own platforms. Through this activation, we were able to get more than 500,000 impressions! Social media is huge for us, providing one more place we can connect with customers and potential customers.”
Helping Local Businesses Get in the Game
Growing a business’s brand awareness, exposure and engagement through live local and regional sports advertising is easier with the help of an experienced coach.
“Our Midco account executive is awesome,” said Swanson. “She keeps in contact with us, so we’re aware of opportunities coming up – and we never miss out on anything. Even when our team is super busy and not on top of things, our Midco rep is. She understands what we need and what we like and presents ideas that fit our strategy.”
Kenner has similar feedback. “My Midco rep helps me pick and choose markets and advises me to jump in on unique opportunities that align with our budget and goals. As someone who deals with about 20 advertising solicitation calls a week, my Midco rep is a breath of fresh air. She is by far one of the best sales reps I work with through all of my marketing and advertising accounts. She makes us look good, and I appreciate that.”