Sports Are Cancelled - Storytelling Isn't

I think it is safe to say that not a single individual in sports marketing ever considered a contingency plan for a sports-canceling pandemic. If you know of someone who did, please correct me and make that introduction. The consequences of this historic moment are unfolding by the moment as leagues, athletes, brands and agencies scramble to react to the crisis. There are far more questions than answers about the future. It’s the reality of the here and now that demands focus, creativity and nimble action.

Case-in-point: AB Inbev, who claims to be the nation’s largest sponsor of live sports and entertainment, announced it would redirect at least $5 million of its sports and entertainment targeted budget to the American Red Cross to support the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Nike launched social-media messages, developed by Wieden + Kennedy Portland, reminding sports enthusiasts to do their part and play inside.

On March 18, Nike announced, “In light of the unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak impacting our teammates, friends and family, we are coming together to support communities where our employees live and work. Nike’s leaders, the Nike Foundation and Nike are committing more than $15 million to COVID-19 response efforts.” Additionally, Nike is offering premium subscription content from its Nike Training Club app free of charge.

The leagues are pivoting as well. NBA Together is a comprehensive program that will leverage “its vast digital footprint and the powerful voices of teams, players, coaches, doctors and others across the NBA family."

"As part of NBA Together, the NBA family is committed to contributing and helping raise more than $50 million to support people impacted by the coronavirus and community and healthcare organizations providing vital services around the world, which includes the more than $30 million financial commitment already made by NBA and WNBA teams and players to date.”