Baseball is back, the NBA and NHL playoffs are in full swing, and it’s one of the most exciting times of the year for sports fans. Sports markets in North America have been growing across the continent’s biggest leagues, including the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, and the growing MLS. The value of the North American sports market hit $83 billion in 2023 between gate revenue, broadcast rights, merchandising, and sponsorship.
With audiences growing and ticket prices rising, many teams have added to the arena experience with tailgating events. Tailgating events can be fun pre-game experiences for arena fans, or they can be out-of-arena watch parties that bring the excitement of the playoffs onto the street.
Some of the most successful tailgating events give fans a chance to get together and watch playoff games for free. The cost of tickets to live events has become prohibitively expensive in some markets. Prices for live events grew substantially once COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, and the pent-up demand for experiences like concerts and live sports drove prices higher than ever. Even now, demand for live events hasn’t waned, and prices continue to climb. Tailgating watch parties are the answer for the true fans priced out of the arena.
Tailgating events aren’t just great for fans. They’re also a huge opportunity for brands and marketing agencies looking for sponsorship activations and ways to connect with some of the most brand-loyal market segments out there. Building a connection with sports fans is a big win, and one of the best ways to do that is to make their game day experience even more memorable.
Tailgating Events: What Do They Look Like?
The tailgating party has its roots in the NFL, where fans hold their own pre-game parties in the parking lot outside the arena. Tailgate parties often feature barbecuing, beers, and a festive atmosphere. It’s the perfect way to spend a Sunday before the game.
The traditional NFL tailgate is more informal, but it requires a massive parking lot. Teams in other leagues have hopped on the tailgate tradition with viewing parties and outdoor events that take over the street or public space outside or near the arena where they play. You can expect big crowds, food, entertainment, and a lot of energy from cheering fans.
Tailgate parties across leagues are massive events, and many prominent feature team and event sponsors, even making space for brand activations. Between the action of the game, the great food, and the thrill of sharing the experience with a massive crowd, brands need to up their game when they want to make connections with sports fans.
Experiential Marketing: Making the Most of Tailgating Sponsorship Activations
Sports fans come to the game and tailgating parties to support their team, get all the excitement of a shared experience, and have fun. They come alone, they come with partners, they bring their kids, or they come out with friends. It’s a ripe opportunity for building emotional connections and establishing a positive image for your brand. Live sports are events that get fans pumped, and if you can connect to that energy, you can engage with a level of enthusiasm that’s hard to find in any other context.
Experiential marketing is one of the best ways to get sports fans to stop and notice your activation at a tailgating event. It’s not just about swag and giveaways; a live experience such as gamification marketing or a pop-up event can get fans in on the action. There are all kinds of sports-related gamification experiences that you can get off the shelf with one of our portable digital billboards, or our team can help you design a custom gamification experience that matches your brand, including Augmented Reality or VR that can wow your audience.
Another approach to experiential marketing that brands can take is incorporating and encouraging engagement on social media, whether that’s through visibility, interactivity, or prizes for engagement.
Pop-up events can also be a great way to add value to the tailgate experience. With the right setup, you can elevate giveaways or new product launches into a unique experience, such as a VIP lounge or charging station. Now is your time to get creative when it comes to giving sports fans something special that will catch their eye.
Work with BIG Digital on Live Sports Activations
BIG Digital has tons of experience making custom solutions for the biggest brands taking advantage of tailgating events. As a digital signage company in Toronto, we’ve supported a number of activations at MLSE tailgating events in Maple Leaf Square (a.k.a. Jurassic Park during Raptors’ playoff games).
Maple Leaf Square is a massive tailgating watch party outside of Scotiabank Arena, activated for both NHL and NBA post-season games. The viewing party features big screens for the game itself, food and beverage retailers, and even half-time entertainment.
The public square has a capacity for 5,000 people, and entry is free with registration. BIG Digital has deployed our outdoor digital billboards to support activations and campaigns for the party’s biggest sponsors. Teams across North America throw similar tailgating parties to get the fans out on the streets and cheering for their teams in busy, public places.
Our event signage and portable digital billboards were made for events like these. They are the only digital billboards purpose-built for mobility. They are built with industrial strength designed to handle regular movement and vibration. You don’t need to worry about stadium-level vibrations or moving them around all the time. They’re perfect when you need to set up and take down quickly, as is the case in many tailgate events that take up public space that will have to be cleared again after the game.
Our portable digital billboards also bring a host of capabilities that you can tap into even in outdoor environments, including gesture-enabled interactivity and augmented reality for marketing with mobile integration.
When you want to make a splash as a sponsor at a tailgating party, BIG Digital portable digital billboards combine durability with creativity. Talk to us about creating one-of-a-kind, interactive experiences, activations, mobile sales, and all of the many ways you can deploy portable digital billboards at tailgating events.
Tailgating event networks are a powerful way for brands to get noticed at these massive events. While brands can offer value-added experiences to sports fans, arenas can also use portable digital billboards to push upselling opportunities, including last-minute tickets and upgrades with QR code integration. Connect with the most passionate fans around with the help of BIG Digital.