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:
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.
99. Green Bay Packers NFL Fan Choice Awards. Fans can vote for their fellow fans in these awards
98. Liverpool let fans take control of Fabio Aurelio’s free kick on Twitter.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) February 17, 2016
97. Seattle Sounders FC continued their great work in fan engagement and user generated content with their ‘Posters By The People‘
96. Sporting Kansas FC produced these cute Valentines Day cards for fans.
95. The San Francisco 49ers let fans sing the national anthem at their Levis Stadium home games with this Golden Voice bit of fun.
94. Cambridge United FC gave fans this voucher for free food and drinks at an away game that was very far from home.
93. Cronulla Sharks in the NRL introduced their #SharkPark3D virtual reality
92. Argentine club Tigre introduced implantable microchips for die hard fans.
91. The Atlanta Hawks unveiled a shark tank like competition for fans to showcase their marketing skills.
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.
89. The Phoenix Suns made everyone laugh with their Lion King Cam 88. Hibernian unveiled their ‘Life With Hibs’ campaign.
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.
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.
85. The Townsville Fire in the WNBL put all of their members names on the centre court.
84. The NBA and Under Armour introduced the NBA Fit App.
83. FC Grenoble used Tinder to engage their fans with an activation that involved fans matching with the team mascot.
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.
78. The Melbourne Storm in the NRL lit up Melbourne’s AAMI Park with these stadium projections.
77. The Sacramento Kings in the NBA launched a spin cycle class for fans.
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.
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.
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.
70. The Dallas Mavericks in the NBA let fans design the new basketball court.
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.
68. The Phoenix Suns held a 90’s night complete with some clever content like this pager number and 90’s website.
67. The Sounders in the MLS let fans design their scarves.
66. Leicester City gave away a free beer to every member after winning the Premier League.
65. Brisbane Lions AFL club gave free car washes to fans cars while they were at the game.
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.
63. Auckland Blues in the Super Rugby gave away 10 tonnes of potatoes to a selection of fans on game day.
62. The ever inclusive Sydney Swans launched their official LGBTI fan group. Read more about the 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.
60. Essendon launched their Embracing India campaign to engage with the Indian community in Australia.
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.
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.
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.
56. Arsenal launched the first Premier League app for kids. More on this here.
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.
53. MCFC have unveiled their plans for their new walk way from the stadium which sees fans see them walk through a special tunnel.
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.
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.
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.
49. The British and Irish Lions unveiled their new kit with this cool hologram activation.
48. NYCFC introduced ‘Hair Cam’
47. Collingwood let injured player Dane Swan live tweet a game from the official team Twitter account.
46. The NRL Bulldogs leased their Belmore Sports Ground stadium out to one lucky family for a night.
45. At the NRL Grand Final fans were treated to free massages in the members only fan area.
44. The NFL Baltimore Ravens let a fan be a photographer for the night.
43. MCFC introduced robots to keep fans happy at Etihad Stadium.
42. Tottenham Hotspur in the BPL produced a heap of free and fun printable party ideas for fans.
41. Arsenal FC had fun with this ‘Where’s Wally’ type mascot image on social media which took off.
40. Minor League team, the Potomac Nationals had one of the coolest giveaway promotions ever with this Seinfeld Frank Costanza bobblehead.
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.
38. The Atlanta Falcons called upon gaming fans for Madden Monday tournaments.
37. The San Diego Padres held a Ghostbusters Day complete with a nifty bobblehead freebie.
36. The Brisbane Heat in the BBL cricket launched their virtual reality mobile app.
35. The Western Sydney Wanderers launched a new fan bar for their A-League fans.
34. West Ham United FC launched a new range of beers at the Olympic Stadium in London which included Iron Ale and Boleyn Bitter.
33. The Cleveland Cavaliers introduced a VR headset activation with sponsor Budweiser to bring exclusive VR content directly to fans through their app.
32. The NBA launched these colourful Twitter emojis and hashflags for the current NBA season.
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.
30. The WWE Series let fans take home their actual seats!
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.
28. Aston Villa’s owner Tony Xia allowed members the opportunity to sit with him at games in his director’s box.
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.
27. Melbourne Victory in the A-League gave away free personalised trading cards to fans.
26. The Cleveland Cavaliers gave fans the chance to wear a championship ring through virtual reality.
24. Football club Morton FC called on fans to design and then judge the winning kit design for their away jersey.
23. Watford and Virgin Rail subsidised the away day train travel for fans.
22. NASCAR let their drivers take over the Snapchat account.
21. West Bromwich Albion owner gave out a free beer and scarf to every member at one of the team’s home games.
20. Chelsea Football Club stood out brightly with this new lighting and visuals display this season.
19. Memphis Grizzlies created a giant corn maze for fans.
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.
16. The Canterbury Bulldogs in the NRL had a fantastic fan engagement project called The Breed. Everyone should check this out.
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.
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.
12. Westpac Stadium projections for the ALL BLACKS rugby union test matches in Wellington, New Zealand.
11. The Hallmark Security Football League produced this great little ground hopper book for young and old football fans.
10. The AFL Grand Final saw fans take a big kick off the ‘Tower of Torp’ and into a giant AFL Premiership cup.
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.
8. The Denver Broncos launched a 45 day fitness challenge for fans which represented a good health and fitness bit of fan engagement.
7. The Houston Astros gave out beards for fans of Keuchel.
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
5. The pool deck and Sandy Point at The Gabba, Brisbane.
4. Tennessee Titans NFL fan caricatures had fans lining up for these free face drawings when I visited Nissan Stadium in October.
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.
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.
— Blair Hughes (@MrBlairHughes) October 1, 2016