CAMA Sports Marketing Lunch & Learn

Sports and farmers have always been a good fit. The attractiveness of sports in the agricultural industry could be seen by the popularity of CAMA’s Sports Marketing Lunch & Learn at Investors Group Field in early February.

An intriguing panel of members from the provincial sports industry were given a forum to talk about their organizations, such as MJHL, Curl Manitoba, and Blue Bombers/Valour FC, along with sports media outlets like Rogers Media.

Panelists

Craig Baker, Executive Director, Curl Manitoba
Trevor Kennerd, Director, Corporate Partnership Services, Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL)
Wade Miller, President and Chief Executive Officer, Blue Bombers
Steve Urias, Account Manager Rogers Media – CITY TV, Sportsnet-NHL

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The most challenging part of the panel discussion was to make a link between sports marketing opportunities and the farming community in Manitoba. Unsurprisingly, the amateur leagues tend to depend more on support from their local support of communities and their members, including agricultural companies; corporate sponsorships help keep rural teams, curling rinks, and provincial associations in existence.

MJHL and Curl Manitoba focus on getting local support. They offer sponsorships packages that include both “on-ice” or “on-field” sporting experiences with their own social media.

Rogers Media provides advertisers the opportunity to reach farmers with a combination of live TV with social media integration. Televised sports is one of the few TV experiences that needs to be consumed live and those events can compete with Netflix and YouTube for viewership. Steve Urias, Account Manager from Rogers Media, presented data from Numeris RTS that showed farmers and people employed in the agricultural industry index high against watching sports on TV and as spectators at events.

Steve pointed out that national advertising is not necessarily needed because certain live sports properties (e.g., NHL and curling) can be geo-targeted with local CBC TV networks or Sportsnet West. This offers an advantage to regional advertisers who don’t need to reach a national audience with a message about a regional product. So instead of buying CBC nationally or the total Sportsnet network, messages can be placed regionally. This is a tactic our team at Sherpa has already implemented for our national clients in the agriculture industry.

For local advertisers, there seems to be an “ask and we’ll make it happen” approach. For instance, Curl Manitoba is all about giving local spectators a great experience and is open for discussions about how they can give advertisers exposure through local events and on-site participation activities, which engage spectators.

Personally – and this thought was also expressed in a question from one of the lunch visitors –   I felt that the presentation fell short on showing how sports marketing and sponsorship opportunities can benefit the agricultural industry by specifically targeting farmers. As a data freak, I would have loved to see statistics from the MJHL or Curling Manitoba showing the number of rural teams that have players from farming families and the percent of event attendees who are farmers or who are related to a farmer. 

Similarly, I didn’t see that information from the professional sports side, represented by the CFL Blue Bombers, either. Wade Millar made some good points about being a team sponsor: as a sponsor, you get to take some of your clients to games, and the Blue Bombers count on many supporters in rural Manitoba. That experience of attending a game with a client can be more valuable than simply placing a billboard on the field.

The panel admitted another missing piece in the conversation was participation from radio stations. Radio outlets offer opportunities to target farmers through sports sponsorships… A missed opportunity to get the total package.

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