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The Emotional Pull Created by Community Relations and Cause Marketing

ericshainock's picture

If you talk to anyone working in the sports industry, he or she will be quick to say that what makes sports so amazing is that it's unpredictable. On the court or on the field, every game is unscripted; there could be a miracle win or a last-second loss accompanied by the emotions that come with both endings. The emotional ties here is what is indescribable. Fans and brands across the globe want to be a part of this industry as fans are extremely loyal to their teams. What drives people to spend insane amounts of money to be a part of the live-action is simple: emotions.

Similarly, one of the strongest ties for fans with teams and athletes is through cause marketing and community relations. Fans are more likely to shop with brands that support cause marketing campaigns (especially ones that fans align with). This isn't to say that the cause marketing campaign should be done externally of the team, but rather, in addition to. For example, let's say hypothetically that Kohl's is a partner of the Milwaukee Bucks. Kohl's may have cause marketing campaigns that exist outside of the sport industry that raises millions of dollars. However, there are many fans of the team that may shop at Kohl's, but are unaware that they participate in these cause marketing campaigns. By integrating the company's cause marketing campaign efforts into the team's fabric, it will strengthen the tie with fans and give additional reason to shop with Kohl's. Team partnership and cause marketing campaigns don't need to be separate, but rather they can overlap to see the best return on time and investment. It will educate consumers because they can put an emotional tie with a team together with a personal tie to a cause.

These community efforts are differentiating factors for fans when deciding where to spend their dollars. The emotional impact of a cause marketing campaign (think: children's charities, cancer charities, health-related charities, sport-charities) will increase fan loyalty and leaves a positive impact both for the brand, team, and the fans. Fans will continue to shop with a brand that makes a difference in the community; Brands will see a lift in overall sales because of the increase in consumers; teams will see stronger partnerships because brands have been woven into the fabric of the team's DNA.

Cause marketing pulls at the heart of many consumers for a few reasons. It demonstrates a company's desire to do good. In addition, it creates a bond between consumer and company. Cause marketing campaigns that benefit charity provides an additional touch point that may impact the consumer's decision-making process. These buyers will then positively recommend a brand or begin to shop there as a result. When analyzing the brand to team relationship, many partners feel an additional reason to stay on as a sponsor due to the positive impact the organization makes both with a team and in the community, which ultimately impacts the bottom line from a team perspective. Essentially, the emotional pull is brought out through the power of sports and then amplified through the power of community relations and cause marketing to help all parties involved.

Eric Shainock works for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital as an Account Representative in the Strategic Partnerships division after previously working at Intersport, a sports marketing agency. He is a 2014 graduate of the Ohio University Sports Administration Graduate Program. Feel free to reach out via email: or on Twitter: @ericshainock.

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