Thought Leadership

Brands and performance insights: a match made in heaven… in the right situations


By Andrew Serio

September 30, 2021

Thought Leadership

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Repeat after me: using data-driven performance insights in activations is not for all brands. 

And again: using data-driven performance insights in activations is not for all brands. 

Nike makes us feel things. Paddy Power always gets a laugh (and a grimace). An amazing recent campaign with Budweiser x Lionel Messi made every top goalkeeper in the world feel just a bit sheepish. Sometimes, brands want to make a statement or just have some fun. 

However, in this world of increasing data availability, using performance insights to tell stories about what’s actually happening on the field of play offers potential like never before. Live sport is the only programming that continues to capture audiences’ attention in real-time. And where there is storytelling potential and an engaged audience, there should be brands looking to align themselves with those narratives.

Using data-driven performance insights to tell stories to fans is all about demonstrating the quality of the athlete on the field and the jeopardy present in the competition. In other words, just how good these men/women are and the stakes for winning and losing (see here for more on TFG’s Big Idea). That’s what creates real connection between fans and competitions and allows brands to benefit from that connection. 

For an example of a data-driven performance insight, look to The Hundred’s “Match Predictor”. Fans can see Oval Invincibles are on a run chase, but now I know that they only have a 20% chance of winning. If they win, I feel more connected to the result, ecstatic that I witnessed such a comeback. I also have learned something new about cricket which I can use for context when I next watch a match, or to make myself sound smarter with friends. Currently, no brand sponsors this feature, but it would be perfect for health/life insurance companies given the competition’s family-friendly environment. 

Another example: everyone knows the names Messi and Ronaldo. But do the names Miedema and Mewis mean anything to you? These female footballers are amongst the best in the world and their quality deserves to be communicated to football fans. They want to watch the best, and knowing that Vivianne Miedema scores for Arsenal at a rate surpassing Thierry Henry’s instantly gives fans an idea of her quality. Wouldn’t fans want to understand more about how she does this? These stories are perfect for brands that deliver premium performance – think automobiles or timepieces. 

Communicating data-driven performance insights for an activation is not straightforward. Fans don’t want to need a statistics degree to figure out what’s being said. Whether on broadcast, in-live, or digital, a viewer has under 5 seconds to grasp the concept being discussed or they disengage. Getting the right mix of data, design, and copywriting/voiceover will go a long way to making the activation stick in the mind of the viewer, and keep them wanting more (This year’s Aon Risk Reward Challenge on the PGA Tour is a great example of this). 

When done right, this type of activation allows brands to differentiate their voice in a crowded landscape with a message that aligns directly with a brand identity of quality, excitement, and passion.