Whilst global brands may be household names, it is community activities and local venues that win the higher status in a family home. Big Brands have big money and big reach, while grassroots organisations tend to have little money and local support. Brands can and always will release high-end, high-budget adverts, but to establish a deep relationship with their core customers, they need to “give back” and engage with them at a local level.
When brands team up with grassroots clubs and invest money in community projects, they are viewed favourably; as generous and ethical. It is a personal result that no glossy billboard can produce. Grassroots marketing may entail sponsoring community events, refurbishing a venue, or running activities. When a big brand gets involved, they create a buzz, meaning participation in sport rises and everybody wins. Here are some of the most successful grassroots marketing campaigns…
This February half-term, Nike teamed up with OpenPlay to pay for the hire of pitches and courts booked by any child or teen. Nike are the ideal brand to promote sport participation, as a popular fitness name. This scheme aimed to get youths off the sofa and active during their holidays. In the past few years, Nike have put in immense effort to reach out and engage its customers, organising free fitness classes for women, and investing in local football clubs and coaching accreditation courses.
Known for its Big Macs and big waistbands, McDonald’s seems an unlikely candidate for health and exercise promotion. Undeterred, McD’s attempted to improve its health rating by launching the McSalad and the McApple Slices, but many health experts and human beings with brains were left unconvinced. So, McDonald’s dipped its toes into the fitness world by supporting local football. In the last 15 years they have given away 250,000 kits to grassroots clubs and trained 30,000 new coaches.
Coca-Cola has been involved with doorstep sports charity StreetGames since 2010. The aim of the scheme is to bring both sport and the Coca-Cola brand to the doorstep of youths across the UK. They target disadvantaged areas and give access to those who would have otherwise been excluded to sports. Their outreach has included organising work experience for teens at the 2012 Olympic Games, and funding large sports events and festivals.
In 2004, Barclays invested £30 million in creating sustainable sports facilities. This is the largest single investment of cash pumped into grassroots sport by any brand. They have created new, and renovated old football facilities around the UK, including installing 3G artificial pitches. The bank also sponsor the Premier League, but it is their involvement in grassroots football that has been favoured most highly by the media.
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