Tonight is the Zimmerman Fantasy Football League draft. Most of the agency’s senior execs participate. And yes, it’s serious.
Given that it’s the age of big data in sports, I choose to partner with our Chief Media Officer, Adam Herman. Brilliant strategy… but let’s just say we’ve yet to see the benefits of this theoretical Dream Team pairing.
I’m no stranger to Fantasy Football. The one other league I participate in will celebrate its 35th season. That’s right, four of the league’s founders, including me, have been at it since high school in 1980.
What’s changed over that period of time:
- Technology – In 1980, we waited for statistics to appear in USA Today (print edition, of course) in order to calculate our weekly scores. Today, scores are tracked in real-time on our cell phones.
- Industry growth – What used to be a “Freaks and Geeks” exclusive club grew to, in 2015, about 57 million players in North America. This according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association. That’s right, a trade organization just for fantasy sports. Professional sports leagues and their global media partners all have a stake in the fantasy sports game.
- Ease of play – Back in the day, playing fantasy sports required a season-long commitment. Now, it can be played daily. Across all the major sports.
In fact, there’s been growth in every facet of the industry except one — partnerships. The kind that drives retail sales. This is the next frontier.
Brands like to partner with other brands the old fashioned way. In retail, they seek to exchange assets. Share database access. Experience promotion and visibility in different channels of distribution.
We have an entire division of our agency dedicated to this hot retail discipline.
Now that fantasy sports brands like Fan Duel and Draft Kings have emerged in the last five years, fantasy games became accessible and alluring, offering million-dollar prize pools. Watch closely how marketers look to align with them to reach a coveted young male audience.
These two companies are aggressively investing millions to brand themselves in prime sports content across all vehicles. They’ve become partners with and sponsors of the largest professional sports leagues. That means they offer access to sports’ most valuable trademarks and fan bases. This is big-time retail marketing, with data driving most of the value.
So get to it. The wait is over. Thanks to technology, the potential of fantasy sports has been realized. Large consumer brands can now play in major leagues and cost-efficiently engage with the most passionate sports fans.
Okay, back to my draft prep and forecasting whether Peyton Manning can thrive in new coach, Gary Kubiak’s, traditionally run-dominated offense.
You’d think I would have perfected this fantasy football draft thing after 35 years…