When sports leagues were coming back online last July, Bendigo shared predictions on make-good media value and where sports and healthcare relationships were going, knowing it would be a bumpy ride. As the Super Bowl brings the season full circle, and marketing tactics evolve through the pandemic, let’s consider this “the halftime report.”
Keys to the Game
The July article shared how CHI Franciscan, now Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, teamed up with baseball’s Seattle Mariners on a range of efforts. Through creative marketing, the partnership was able to deliver a full season’s worth of value in less than half the number of regularly scheduled games. Here are some highlights:
• The Mariners delivered a comprehensive digital signage package, increased TV and radio spots, and enhanced social media efforts throughout the shortened season.
• CHI Franciscan frontline healthcare workers virtually introduced the starting lineups for every Mariners game on ESPN Radio.
• Mariners Hall of Fame catcher and prostate cancer survivor Dave Sims (voice of the Mariners) teamed up with CHI Franciscan physicians for an online webinar reminding men about their screenings and the risks related to the pandemic.
• As Opening Day approaches for the 2021 MLB season, Virginia Mason Franciscan Health and the Mariners are discussing plans for incrementally bringing fans back into the park. The Mariners have weekly calls with immunology and virology specialists to share best practices and interpret rules from government.
The next frontier for many health systems will be teaming up with their sports and corporate partners to help reduce underlying health conditions that made COVID-19 exponentially dangerous in so many communities.
In Seattle, Virginia Mason Franciscan Health has teamed up with Amazon to launch joint Sunday vaccination clinics at Amazon’s corporate headquarters. In the first two weeks, 4,600 patients were vaccinated. The program demonstrates how the public and private sectors can integrate to flatten the curve.
This week in Atlanta, Emory Healthcare, the Falcons football team, and quarterback Matt Ryan launched HealthyATL.org to raise awareness and funds to tackle health disparities. Ryan and the Falcons are matching up to $300,000 to provide health education and nutritious food options, fund research, and improve and increase access in the Emory Healthcare system. It’s a great example of how population health can be integrated into sports and cause marketing.
Designing Your Own Game Plan
How your system negotiates and values its make goods depends on your relationship with the team, the length of your agreement, the assets in your contract, and your system’s planned strategy for the coming months.
The most successful “Healthcare x Sports” partnerships elevate activation beyond buying impressions to find more innovative ways to keep the team and the community healthy. Such partnerships are more important than ever during times of crisis or times when you may not be able to market your traditional products and services. Consider how your sports partners can advocate for your brand in times like this. Their trust in your system translates to their fans’ trust in you.
Jeff Sofka is CEO of Bendigo, a marketing agency focusing on the convergence of Healthcare, Sports & Corporate Partnerships. Bendigo helps leading healthcare systems navigate the complex world of marketing partnerships, including strategy, evaluation, negotiation, activation, media, research, and facilities development.