Fan Engagement 2016 Year In Review: 100 Global Fan Engagement/Experience Activations

Fan Engagement 2016 Year In Review: 100 Global Fan Engagement/Experience Activations

What a year in fan engagement 2016 has been.

From Pokemon Go to Hackathons, eSports to virtual reality and wearables to a focus on user generated content, stadiums and teams across the globe have been putting fans first with some very funny, interesting and innovative ideas. 

Sports fans across global stadiums have been gifted with a dazzling array of interesting and down right intriguing fan engagement activations throughout 2016 particularly through new advances in technology. Teams are constantly on the hunt to find the new ‘wow’ factor idea that brings the fan closer and increases their emotional loyalty to the team while importantly finding ways to drive revenue through these sponsor led engagement ideas. 

As I did last year with this 2015 review, I’ve put together a list of 100 activations across a multitude of areas of engagement and from some 90 odd stadiums and teams. The list I’ve collated is by no means a definitive account of the top 100 fan engagement ideas in 2016 but merely my take on what some of the best activations have been from what I’ve seen on my travels throughout the year. 

I could have easily added another 200 to 300 ideas in highlighting the impressive work that fan engagement and customer experience reps are doing around the world such is the high quality of creativity on show however for now these are the 100 best ideas across fan engagement/experience that spring to mind from the year that was.

There is no particular order here for the 100 ideas but be sure to tell me if I’ve missed something spectacular or if you would like to learn more about an idea seen here.

Be sure to check out some of my resources for more information and education:

5000+ Fan Engagement Pinterest Board

200 Fan Engagement Ideas Work Sheet

Once again, well done to all of the creative people responsible for the work below.

Let’s get started……

100. The Royal Box at the 2016 Formula One Australian Grand Prix. A seat upgrade right on the starting line for the big race.

Royal Box at AUS GP F1

Royal Box at AUS GP F1

99. Green Bay Packers NFL Fan Choice Awards. Fans can vote for their fellow fans in these awards

Green Bay Packers Fan Choice Awards

Green Bay Packers Fan Choice Awards

98. Liverpool let fans take control of Fabio Aurelio’s free kick on Twitter.

97. Seattle Sounders FC continued their great work in fan engagement and user generated content with their Posters By The People

Sounders FC 'Posters By The People'

Sounders FC ‘Posters By The People’

Sounders FC

Sounders FC

96. Sporting Kansas FC produced these cute Valentines Day cards for fans.

Sporting Kansas Valentines Day Cards

Sporting Kansas Valentines Day Cards

95. The San Francisco 49ers let fans sing the national anthem at their Levis Stadium home games with this Golden Voice bit of fun.

49ers Golden Voice

49ers Golden Voice

94. Cambridge United FC gave fans this voucher for free food and drinks at an away game that was very far from home. 

Cambridge United FC

Cambridge United FC

93. Cronulla Sharks in the NRL introduced their #SharkPark3D virtual reality

Cronulla Sharks 360

Cronulla Sharks 360

92. Argentine club Tigre introduced implantable microchips for die hard fans.

Tigre's Fan Microchip's

Tigre’s Fan Microchip’s

91. The Atlanta Hawks unveiled a shark tank like competition for fans to showcase their marketing skills.

Atlanta Hawks 'Shark Tank'

Atlanta Hawks ‘Shark Tank’

90. Brisbane Roar (A-League) and Brisbane Lions (AFL) announced a collaboration to work together this year by allowing members of both clubs to enjoy a top-level cross-code experience.

Brisbane Roar A-League and Brisbane Lions AFL

Brisbane Roar A-League and Brisbane Lions AFL

89. The Phoenix Suns made everyone laugh with their Lion King Cam 88. Hibernian unveiled their ‘Life With Hibs’ campaign.

Hibs SPL

Hibs SPL

87. The Detroit Pistons introduced their new interactive game day guide which saw the emails that they send to fans change every time the fan views them.

Detroit Pistons NBA

Detroit Pistons NBA

86. West Ham United FC were one of a number of clubs to introduce eSports players. Manchester City, Ajax, PSG and the 76ers were among the teams to also introduce eSports players.

West Ham eSports Player

West Ham eSports Player

Ajax eSports

Ajax eSports

85. The Townsville Fire in the WNBL put all of their members names on the centre court.

Townsville Fire WNBL

Townsville Fire WNBL

84. The NBA and Under Armour introduced the NBA Fit App.

NBA Fit App

NBA Fit App

83. FC Grenoble used Tinder to engage their fans with an activation that involved fans matching with the team mascot.

FC Grenoble Rugby Tinder App

FC Grenoble Rugby Tinder App

82. The Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters first pitch got a bit scary as they did this scary Ring version of events in Japan. 81. The NY Knicks and other teams across codes poked fun at fans with the ‘Bandwagon Cam’ throughout the season.

80. Swedish club AIK replaced younger mascots with older ones for this game and it was an interesting outcome.  79. Mercedes Benz Stadium introduced their concession offerings for fans for when the new stadium opens. Fan favourites like hot dogs and soda’s are cheap at $2. The Atlanta Falcons then sent members a player signed thank you card with $2 inside so they could use that money on the new food and drink menu.

Mercedes Benz Stadium concession offerings

Mercedes Benz Stadium concession offerings

Atlanta Falcons NFL

Atlanta Falcons NFL

78. The Melbourne Storm in the NRL lit up Melbourne’s AAMI Park with these stadium projections.

Melbourne Storm NRL

Melbourne Storm NRL

77. The Sacramento Kings in the NBA launched a spin cycle class for fans.

Sacramento Kings NBA

Sacramento Kings NBA

76. Richmond Tigers in the AFL got cosy with the Cuddle Cam 75. Euro 2016 saw David Guetta team up with fans which allowed the latter to sing his song and re-mix the track.

Euro 2016

Euro 2016

74. Metallica played the US national anthem to thousands of fans at a San Jose Sharks NHL home game. Interesting national anthem renditions. Can they work elsewhere?

72. The Sydney Swans in the AFL worked with a sponsor to light up the Sydney Cricket Ground through this wearables activation.

Sydney Swans

Sydney Swans

Sydney Swans/SCG AFL

Sydney Swans/SCG AFL

71. The roving dinosaur at the Australian Grand Prix in their new M-Lane gourmet food and drink area certainly made fans lose their minds for a few seconds.

AUS GP F1 'M-Lane'

AUS GP F1 ‘M-Lane’

70. The Dallas Mavericks in the NBA let fans design the new basketball court.

Dallas Mavericks NBA

Dallas Mavericks NBA

69. At the Wests Tigers home game at Campbelltown Stadium in Sydney against the NZ Warriors made the traditional Kiwi meal, Hangi available to fans.

Hangi at Wests Tigers NRL

Hangi at Wests Tigers NRL

68. The Phoenix Suns held a 90’s night complete with some clever content like this pager number and 90’s website. 

Phoenix Suns NBA

Phoenix Suns NBA

Phoenix Suns 90's Night

Phoenix Suns 90’s Night

67. The Sounders in the MLS let fans design their scarves.

Sounders FC 'Scarf Sound Off'

Sounders FC ‘Scarf Sound Off’

66. Leicester City gave away a free beer to every member after winning the Premier League.

LCFC

LCFC

65. Brisbane Lions AFL club gave free car washes to fans cars while they were at the game.

Brisbane Lions AFL

Brisbane Lions AFL

64. The Australian national football team, The Socceroos created a clever junior passport which saw kids be able to participate in activities and get a stamp at each station and then take home a merchandise pack.

Socceroos Junior Passport

Socceroos Junior Passport

63. Auckland Blues in the Super Rugby gave away 10 tonnes of potatoes to a selection of fans on game day.

Auckland Blues Super Rugby

Auckland Blues Super Rugby

62. The ever inclusive Sydney Swans launched their official LGBTI fan group. Read more about the Rainbow Swans.

Sydney Swans AFL Rainbow Swans

Sydney Swans AFL Rainbow Swans

61. Football club Reading FC in England gave fans the opportunity to brand and name their new beer in partnership with West Berkshire Brewing.

Reading FC

Reading FC

60. Essendon launched their Embracing India campaign to engage with the Indian community in Australia.

AFL Essendon's Embracing India Initiative

AFL Essendon’s Embracing India Initiative

59. Leicester City and Walkers released these special edition crisps called ‘Salt and Victory’ to celebrate their huge win in the Premier League. They gave away a packet to every fan at a home game too.

LCFC 'Salt and Victory' Crisps

LCFC ‘Salt and Victory’ Crisps

58. The NY Rangers introduced a new big screen idea with the ‘Viral Moment Of The Game’ that took a clip that was or is going viral and put it up on the screens during breaks.

NY Islanders NHL 'Viral Moment'

NY Islanders NHL ‘Viral Moment’

57. As part of their fan giveaways and promotions in 2016, the Dodgers gave away 40,000 Justin Turner Chia Pet’s to fans. That’s an interesting merchandise/giveaway idea if ever I’ve seen one.

LA Dodgers MLB

LA Dodgers MLB

56. Arsenal launched the first Premier League app for kids. More on this here.

Arsenal Kids App

Arsenal Kids App

55. The GWS Giants had a half time activation that made one fan $100,000 richer! What a kick this was…. This video shot by a fan is also worth a look. Absolute scenes…..

54. The Atlanta Tinder Hawks Swipe Right Night 2.0 again showcased the Hawks flair for tech with this digital tech night at a game. More about this activation here.

Atlanta Hawks Swipe Right Night 2.0

Atlanta Hawks Swipe Right Night 2.0

53. MCFC have unveiled their plans for their new walk way from the stadium which sees fans see them walk through a special tunnel.

MCFC

MCFC

52. The Sacramento Kings in the NBA held a tech night that was a good way to showcase fans tech skills which would go a long way in improving their fan experience at games.

Sacramento Kings Tech Night

Sacramento Kings Tech Night

51. The Miami Dolphins and a host of other US teams partnered with Uber for Uber Tailgate which saw fans be able to catch a seamless ride to and from the game.

Uber Tailgate

Uber Tailgate

50. The NRL launched a new real time auction feature called Instabilia which allowed fans to bid on game worn gear while the game was still on. 

NRL Instabilia

NRL Instabilia

49. The British and Irish Lions unveiled their new kit with this cool hologram activation.

48. NYCFC introduced ‘Hair Cam’

NYCFC 'Hair Cam'

NYCFC ‘Hair Cam’

47. Collingwood let injured player Dane Swan live tweet a game from the official team Twitter account.

Collingwood AFL

Collingwood AFL

46. The NRL Bulldogs leased their Belmore Sports Ground stadium out to one lucky family for a night.

NRL Bulldogs

NRL Bulldogs

45. At the NRL Grand Final fans were treated to free massages in the members only fan area.

NRL Grand Final

NRL Grand Final

44. The NFL Baltimore Ravens let a fan be a photographer for the night.

Baltimore Ravens NFL

Baltimore Ravens NFL

43. MCFC introduced robots to keep fans happy at Etihad Stadium.

MCFC Robots

MCFC Robots

42. Tottenham Hotspur in the BPL produced a heap of free and fun printable party ideas for fans.

Tottenham EPL

Tottenham EPL

41. Arsenal FC had fun with this ‘Where’s Wally’ type mascot image on social media which took off.

Arsenal FC

Arsenal FC

40. Minor League team, the Potomac Nationals had one of the coolest giveaway promotions ever with this Seinfeld Frank Costanza bobblehead.

Potomac Nationals

Potomac Nationals

39. The Memphis Grizzlies held a cute Diaper Derby. The Sydney Kings in the NBL also did a baby race which went down well with fans.

Memphis Grizzlies 'Diaper Derby'

Memphis Grizzlies ‘Diaper Derby’

38. The Atlanta Falcons called upon gaming fans for Madden Monday tournaments.

Atlanta Falcons NFL

Atlanta Falcons NFL

37. The San Diego Padres held a Ghostbusters Day complete with a nifty bobblehead freebie.

Padres MLB 'Ghostbuster's Day'

Padres MLB ‘Ghostbuster’s Day’

36. The Brisbane Heat in the BBL cricket launched their virtual reality mobile app.

Brisbane Heat BBL

Brisbane Heat BBL

35. The Western Sydney Wanderers launched a new fan bar for their A-League fans.

WSW A-League

WSW A-League

34. West Ham United FC launched a new range of beers at the Olympic Stadium in London which included Iron Ale and Boleyn Bitter.

West Ham United FC

West Ham United FC

33. The Cleveland Cavaliers introduced a VR headset activation with sponsor Budweiser to bring exclusive VR content directly to fans through their app.

Cavs NBA VR

Cavs NBA VR

Cavs NBA VR

Cavs NBA VR

32. The NBA launched these colourful Twitter emojis and hashflags for the current NBA season.

NBA Twitter Emoji's

NBA Twitter Emoji’s

NBA Hashflags

NBA Hashflags

31. Cricket Australia launched their ‘Field of Flavours’ fan experience that is seen here on show for the third test match at the Adelaide Oval.

Cricket Australia 'Field of Flavours'

Cricket Australia ‘Field of Flavours’

Cricket Australia 'Field of Flavours'

Cricket Australia ‘Field of Flavours’

30. The WWE Series let fans take home their actual seats!

WWE Survivor Series

WWE Survivor Series

WWE Survivor Series

WWE Survivor Series

30. The Canberra Raiders fans in the NRL made the ‘Viking Clap’ something to remember in 2016.

29. The Seattle Mariners gave away 20,000 replica plaques to fans.

Seattle Mariners MLB

Seattle Mariners MLB

28. Aston Villa’s owner Tony Xia allowed members the opportunity to sit with him at games in his director’s box.

Aston Villa FC

Aston Villa FC

27. QPRFC held a special ticket promotion to coincide with the 50th anniversary of their 1967 league cup win by offering tickets at this low price.

QPRFC

QPRFC

27. Melbourne Victory in the A-League gave away free personalised trading cards to fans.

Melbourne Victory A-League personalised trading cards

Melbourne Victory A-League personalised trading cards

26. The Cleveland Cavaliers gave fans the chance to wear a championship ring through virtual reality.

Cavs NBA

Cavs NBA

25. The NRL Grand Final featured a cool activation called ‘The Virtual Boot’ where fans could take a virtual kick as seen below. e7b494d70612bb8e6f3fca0fb58b5aff

24. Football club Morton FC called on fans to design and then judge the winning kit design for their away jersey.

Morton FC

Morton FC

23. Watford and Virgin Rail subsidised the away day train travel for fans.

Watford EPL

Watford EPL

22. NASCAR let their drivers take over the Snapchat account.

NASCAR

NASCAR

21. West Bromwich Albion owner gave out a free beer and scarf to every member at one of the team’s home games.

West Bromwich Albion BPL

West Bromwich Albion BPL

20. Chelsea Football Club stood out brightly with this new lighting and visuals display this season.

Chelsea FC

Chelsea FC

19. Memphis Grizzlies created a giant corn maze for fans. 

Memphis Grizzlies NBA

Memphis Grizzlies NBA

18. MCFC launched Pep’s Taxi. 

17. Australian Open Tennis Instagram Mosaic. Fans were encouraged to tag #AUSOPEN on Instagram and then were able to get their polaroid pic printed. They could then add it to the wall as seen below.

Aus Open Instagram Mosaic

Aus Open Instagram Mosaic

Aus Open Instagram Mosaic

Aus Open Instagram Mosaic

16. The Canterbury Bulldogs in the NRL had a fantastic fan engagement project called The Breed. Everyone should check this out.

NRL Bulldogs

NRL Bulldogs

'The Breed' Canterbury Bulldogs NRL

‘The Breed’ Canterbury Bulldogs NRL

15. The Minnesota Wild became the first team to use Snapchat Spectacles. 

14. The Gold Coast Suns (AFL) were one of a number of global teams who jumped on the Pokemon Go craze back in June with this event.

Gold Coast Suns AFL

Gold Coast Suns AFL

13. Plenty of teams in the US and UK started to engage fans with hackathons. Denver Broncos, MCFC and Oregon University were just some of the many teams getting into this tech space.

MCFC

MCFC

Oregon University Quackcon

Oregon University Quackcon

Denver Broncos NFL

Denver Broncos NFL

12. Westpac Stadium projections for the ALL BLACKS rugby union test matches in Wellington, New Zealand.

Westpac Stadium Wellington, NZ

Westpac Stadium Wellington, NZ

11. The Hallmark Security Football League produced this great little ground hopper book for young and old football fans.

The Hallmark Security Football League

The Hallmark Security Football League

10. The AFL Grand Final saw fans take a big kick off the ‘Tower of Torp’ and into a giant AFL Premiership cup.

AFL Grand Final 'Tower of Torp'

AFL Grand Final ‘Tower of Torp’

9. The Western Bulldogs in the AFL gave fans travelling to Sydney for a finals match $10 and this lovely letter to show them how much their support meant to them in the run through the finals.

Western Bulldogs AFL

Western Bulldogs AFL

8. The Denver Broncos launched a 45 day fitness challenge for fans which represented a good health and fitness bit of fan engagement.

Denver Broncos NFL

Denver Broncos NFL

7. The Houston Astros gave out beards for fans of Keuchel.

Houston Astros

Houston Astros

6. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL got their players to draw NFL team logos. What ensued was pretty hilarious. Bucs Draw NFL Logos

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 'Draw Logos'

Tampa Bay Buccaneers ‘Draw Logos’

5. The pool deck and Sandy Point at The Gabba, Brisbane. 

Pool Deck and Sandy Point at The Gabba Cricket Australia

Pool Deck and Sandy Point at The Gabba Cricket Australia

Gabba Pool Deck

Gabba Pool Deck

Sandy Point

Sandy Point

Sandy Point

Sandy Point

Sandy Point

Sandy Point

Gabba Pool Deck

Gabba Pool Deck

4. Tennessee Titans NFL fan caricatures had fans lining up for these free face drawings when I visited Nissan Stadium in October.

Titans caricature's

Titans caricature’s

3.  Allianz Stadium in Sydney put up an offer for fans to grab a free pie via their app if either team scored 4 tries or more before the 60th minute. 

Allianz Stadium

Allianz Stadium

 2. San Antonio Spurs gave away packets of Slam Duncan O’s (Tim Duncan’s cereal) via mini parachutes at his farewell ceremony

1. One of the best bits of fan engagement at the AFL Grand Final was seeing a couple of fans race around the MCG fence as they tried to beat a horse on the LED screen which was racing along side them.

About Blair Hughes

Creative and ambitious communications and event management professional with seven years of experience visualising, developing and facilitating major events and communications projects with a high success rate of delivering exceptional outcomes for clients in both local and international markets. A leader, networker and life long learner skilled in social media, marketing and public relations with exceptional interpersonal skills and a proactive and passionate approach to executing outstanding results.

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