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  • Mitch MacCullom

3 Bizarre Promos and Protests At Sports Stadiums

The sports world gives marketers a fantastic opportunity to build brand awareness, loyalty, and competitive advantage. When a company has their logo on a team’s jersey or its ads play on sideline boards during games, these companies gain access to a consumer base known for its loyalty and willingness to spend money. Sports also provide activists with a large audience to push their message and encourage change.

At times, companies and non-profits utilise this reality well, but sometimes it comes across as bizarre and unnatural. After all, sports fans are loyal and dedicated, but this loyalty can come across as anger if games are interrupted. Today’s article will look at three strange promotions conducted recently within the grounds of a sports stadium.

The House of the Dragon Promo

House of the Dragon is HBO’s latest hit, and the prequel to Game of Thrones has got a lot of people talking since it first aired in August 2022. ExpressVPN’s detailed infographic about the show and the family tree of House Targaryen demonstrates that the show can be confusing to follow, but it seems people are more confused about why there was a House of the Dragon promo during a recent Major League Baseball playoff game.

Earlier this month, a CGI dragon flew over Yankee Stadium during the 7th inning of Game 1 of the American League Championship series between the Yankees and the Cleveland Guardians. Some baseball fans thought the promo was cool, while others were unimpressed, with one Twitter user writing that it was the worst thing he has seen on TV.

Bob Costas: 
"Now, you know, big sellout crowd here, but we weren't 100% sure this game was gonna be played tonight. And for more, it's shocking. Here's Lauren Shehadi..."

'House of the Dragon' promo with CGI dragon flying over Yankee Stadium* 

Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) October 12, 2022

The Smile Campaign

The 2022 horror film Smile launched a marketing campaign where eerily grinning actors were placed in the crowds of several Major League Baseball games. These actors were strategically placed in the stadium, such as behind home plate, for maximum exposure. The actors never broke character, and there are various clips of them staring and smiling into the camera for the pitcher-batter shot.

While the movie’s director initially thought no one would notice, the campaign went viral on social media, and Smile ended up grossing a worldwide total of more than $180 million. Some fans were amused by the campaign after learning what it was. However, according to Yahoo Entertainment’s article, other people were freaked out by the actors.

Here’s some fun, clever movie promo - Paramount seemingly placed #Smile actors in the crowd at both the Yankees and Mets games last night, both in view of cameras. The results were indeed creepy. Going to a game this weekend? Watch out for the smiles! 😃 

Erik Davis (@ErikDavis) September 24, 2022

Just Stop Oil Protest

Earlier this year, a man from Just Stop Oil, an organisation that protests fossil fuel production and licensing, tied himself to a goalpost with a cable tie during a Premier League game. The event occurred during a match between Everton and Newcastle and was followed up by several other protests of the same kind. Two protesters from the same organisation tried tying themselves to the goalposts at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, bringing the game to a halt.

While the message of Just Stop Oil is important, football fans in the United Kingdom are a passionate group of individuals who don’t appreciate when games are delayed for anything, including technical difficulties and protests.

Regardless of the message, whether it's commercial or environmental, sports stadiums are a great place to gain exposure to large groups of people at once. These individuals are often loyal and passionate, making them great target audiences. However, companies and organisations do occasionally get it wrong or use strategies that come across as strange and eerie, such as the Smile campaign at the MLB games.

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