- NBA team the Atlanta Hawks is celebrating its 50th anniversary through interactive fan activations, themed games, community programs, service acts and a partnership with Budweiser, according to a news release.
- Budweiser is presenting a "50 Moments in Hawks History" content series featuring vignettes around the team's most iconic coaches, players, supporters, personnel and games, which will appear on the Hawks' social channels and in-arena.
- The brewer is also sponsoring the Hawks Heritage Hall, a digital timeline beginning with the team's move from St. Louis to Atlanta in 1968. Fans can also vote on who will make the top five players in Hawks' history through Fan 5 Voting, which Budweiser is also presenting. Winners will be announced on Jan. 15 at the 50th Throwback Game.
Budweiser presenting the Hawks' 50th anniversary digital content series, Fan 5 Voting initiative and historical timeline aligns with the brewer's ongoing efforts to evolve its sports marketing strategy beyond traditional, largely static sponsorships. Through the partnership, the brand is also attaching its name closely to a historical event that might create resonance and be more memorable among the Atlanta team's dedicated fans.
As beer sales continue to dip among U.S. consumers, Budweiser has been focusing on more innovative, localized marketing tactics. The Hawks partnership follows a recent Bud Light campaign with the NFL's Cleveland Browns around a "Victory Fridge." The fridges, powered by the brand's Bud-E Fridge smart technology, were stocked with beer and placed in bars around Cleveland, only unlocking when the Browns won a regular-season game in September. Heading into the current NFL season, the Browns hadn't won a game since 2016.
Branded content series, including documentaries and scripted shows, are also becoming more popular with marketers striving to connect with digital-focused audiences. The new series spotlighting the Hawks' 50-year history plays into sports fans' growing preference for watching sports-related content, such as highlights and interviews, on digital and social platforms. Fans are also more frequently second-screening when they watch sports, where they check scores and player stats on their phones or other devices while also watching on TV.
Original digital video (ODV), referring to ad-supported, professionally produced and digitally distributed video, is growing in popularity, especially with younger, more tech-savvy audiences. ODV is expected to attract 72 million adult viewers in 2018, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. The trade group found that marketers are seeing the benefits that the format offers in driving awareness, familiarity, engagement and purchase intent.