The team at Bastion EBA share their favourite examples of brands leveraging sport partnerships through experiential tactics to not only enhance the fan experience, but become an integral part of the experience itself.

An AFL fan only has to hear Mike Williamson’s call of ‘Jesaulenko, you beauty’ or Paul Roos announce ‘Here it is’ to vividly recall these iconic moments. Because there’s real beauty in these moments.

Sport is full of these moments of serendipity and has become an integral part of Australian culture through the strong sense of culture, community, commitment and undivided loyalty it evokes amongst its supporters. The passion and loyalty displayed at live-sporting events is truly unmatched and separates the experience from other popular forms of entertainment.

Partnerships provide brands with the opportunity to become ingrained in these experiences and offers them a compelling proposition to engage audiences through the things they are most passionate about.

The evolution of partnerships has seen this landscape evolve from a high focus on branding and exposure to a focus on creating unique, fan-centric activations that genuinely build an emotional affinity with the audience through experiential marketing.

With this in mind, the team have pulled together the best examples of brands using sport partnerships to deliver memorable experiences.

The Pool Deck and CUA Insurance

The Gabba’s Pool Deck is a prime example of how brands can use market insights and research to develop activation concepts that address consumer issues to create positive brand associations and drive ticket sales.

Cricket is an Australian pastime that is synonymous with hot days in the peak of Australian summer. In order to counteract declining visits to the Gabba due to the extreme heat that Aussies love to boast about but avoid in real life, Cricket Australia revamped the 2016 Gabba Test match with the Pool Deck.

The bespoke structure allows cricket fans to witness the world’s best cricketers from the comfort of the front-row shaded pool. This truly unique activation counteracted the uncomfortable weather conditions and offered fans a relaxing and enjoyable viewing experience.

The success of the Pool Deck has seen the Brisbane Heat commercialise the Pool Deck for the past three BBL Seasons giving principal partner, CUA Insurance, the chance to positively position the brand as a true supporter and integral part of the Brisbane Heat’s match-day.

The US Open and American Express

American Express has long sought to reward its members and provide them with memorable and one-of-a-kind experiences. For the 2019 US Open, American Express delivered another quintessential fan-centric activation.

The ‘Fan Experience’ focussed on providing attendees with opportunities to live and breathe the unique culture and lifestyle of New York City through the Open. American Express enabled visitors to play a life-size game of pong called ‘Borough Ball’, where fans chose one of five NY Boroughs to play in. The digital board then changed to reflect the player’s choice of Borough.

In addition to Borough Ball, attendees were able to create a song at the ‘Rally Remix Station’, paint a virtual mural that fans can ‘spray paint’ and enter a mock subway car that runs video inside. All features of this multi-sensory activation related back to New York City and provided attendees with a highly engaging fan experience that they could enjoy in between matches at the Tennis.

This activation shows the value of brands using an overarching brand platform when leveraging their partnership. American Express’ consistent messaging focussed on improving the fan experience and rewarding their members has allowed them to build a strong connection with US tennis fans and increase their preference in the market.

The Dallas Cowboys and AT&T

To kick-off the 2019 NFL season and showcase its new 5G-enabled stadium, the Dallas Cowboys and AT&T launched a range of immersive digital kiosks located in the lobby of the 80,000-seat AT&T Stadium.

The kiosks each have a touch-screen interface and use augmented reality to provide Dallas Cowboys’ fans with the opportunity to pose side-by-side with their favourite Cowboys. This activation has been extremely successful due to its simplicity and has allowed Cowboys’ fans to easily share their photos with their favourite players across their social platforms.

In addition to the digital kiosks, AT&T kicked off a series of fan experiences that included a 36-foot tall 3D volumetric video of various players, 3D animations of famous touchdown dances fans can dance alongside too and live game data presented in AR.

As a telco, AT&T focussed on combining the digital and physical worlds that provide enjoyment for attendees at AT&T Stadium, whilst also increasing the awareness of its 5G capabilities.

This digitally-led activation showcases the importance of simplicity when developing experiential marketing concepts. The simple nature of this activation highlights the value of user-friendly experiences when leveraging partnerships. As the output of this activation can be easily shared across the user’s social channels and amplified organically, the activation expanded its reach to the general population and generated significant ROI for AT&T.

The Golden State Warriors and Accenture

Accenture , Golden State Warriors’ technology and innovation partner, has leveraged the partnership through developing a mobile app to enhance fan experience at the new San Fransisco arena.

In addition to the interactive game-day experience app, Accenture and the Golden State Warriors used technology to optimise the fan experience by providing VR goggles which allowed match attendees to witness a game day in the life of the Warriors players, in the lead up to the game commencing.

This provided fans with a truly immersive activation that enhanced their understanding of the game and gave them an insight into the lives of the players, which they have not previously seen.

Accenture’s partnership with the Golden State Warriors is a best practice example of leveraging a partnership to build credibility and equity in a specific category. Accenture has used this partnership as a platform to position itself as a digital innovator in the sporting landscape and a company that provides its audiences with the latest technology and optimises their match-day experiences.

In conclusion…

It’s clear that experiential marketing is becoming increasingly important due to the evolution of the sponsorship landscape and the need for brands to build an emotional connection with their consumers.

Leveraging partnerships with meaningful activations provide brands with the power to truly become part of the theatre of sport and engage audiences.

As we head towards 2020, brands will continue to evolve and develop the ways in which they look the leverage their partnerships to enhance the fan experience.

At Bastion EBA, we are always looking at new and exciting ways to enhance the fan experience and build positive brand sentiment by creating unique and engaging activations. We would love to hear more about you and what you’re trying to achieve with your future activations and experiences, contact

Written by Tate Meredith, Strategist at Bastion EBA.