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Reaching a community: The new era of sports engagement and storytelling

3 min read

According to the Altman Solons 2023 Global Sports Survey on Changing Media Consumption, 77 percent of executives believe new content strategies are paramount to building engagement, specifically among younger audiences. It’s an approach many rightsholders recognise, but acting on it can be a significant step. Creating stories, building a community, and strengthening a connection with fans can only benefit all stakeholders involved in sports in the long run. It’s an approach the Men’s EHF EURO 2024 is taking as it looks to use the platform to grow the sport on both a participation and commercial level.

Digital engagement strategies

The digital engagement strategy for the Men’s EHF EURO 2024 extends beyond traditional approaches, tapping into the evolving landscape of fan interaction. This is exemplified by the continued expansion of the 'Home of Handball' app, a pivotal tool in enhancing fan experience through innovative gamification elements. The app's Match Predictor, sponsored for the second consecutive edition by Gorenje, aligns perfectly with their #simplyfans campaign. This initiative demonstrates Gorenje's commitment to connecting with fans in a dynamic and interactive way, underscoring the growing importance of gamification in sports engagement.

Moreover, Grundfos is expanding its participation by sponsoring not only the on-court Player of the Match but also the corresponding fan vote within the app. This move signifies a shift in sponsor engagement strategies, where the emphasis is on creating interactive and immersive experiences for fans. These gamification elements represent a strategic move towards a more engaged and participative fan base. The integration of these interactive features in the 'Home of Handball' app showcases a savvy understanding of modern fan expectations and consumption patterns.

By leveraging the popularity of the app, the EHF EURO 2024 is setting a new benchmark in digital fan engagement, blending entertainment with interactivity. This approach is a testament to the EHF's commitment to evolving with its audience, ensuring that handball remains at the forefront of sports innovation and fan experience.

Community engagement

Lidl’s involvement in EHF EURO 2024 as Official Partner exemplifies purpose-driven marketing and community engagement, aligning its brand with values that resonate deeply with families. Their 'fan sofas' initiative – which sees certain fans given the best seat in the house for matches – creates a unique and comfortable viewing experience, turning match viewing into a family-friendly activity. This aligns seamlessly with Lidl's brand identity as a provider of positive experiences, not just through its stores but also in the realm of handball.

By sponsoring the 'escort kids' program, Lidl further cements its commitment to family and community values. This program allows children to be a part of the event, accompanying players onto the court, fostering a sense of inclusivity and excitement among the younger fans.

These activations go beyond conventional sponsorship to create meaningful experiences that resonate with the whole family. This approach not only enhances the brand’s visibility and appeal but also strengthens its connection with the community, aligning perfectly with the values and ethos of handball.

The Men’s EHF EURO 2024 has sold out all of its sponsorship packages and, alongside Lidl, welcomes Deutsche Bahn, Engelbert Strauss, Falken Tyre, Freenet, Gorenje, Grundfos, Liqui Moly, Trivago and Würth.

Documentary on Stefan Kretzschmar

This year’s event coincides with the release of a new documentary on Stefan Kretzschmar, one of the most divisive characters in handball history. The film is a good example of a strategic narrative tool that adds value for rights holders like the EHF. It delves into the life of a celebrated handball player, featuring candid conversations with sports personalities like Toni Kroos and Dirk Nowitzki.

Initiatives like this are essential in today’s media landscape where content consumption extends beyond live matches. They provide additional touchpoints for fan interaction, tapping into the growing demand for on-demand and behind-the-scenes content. For rights holders, this means expanded reach and visibility, ensuring that their sport remains relevant and appealing in a highly competitive entertainment market.

Such storytelling initiatives are crucial for rights holders as they create deeper engagement with audiences. By presenting relatable, humanised stories of athletes, these documentaries go beyond the surface-level excitement of sports. They foster a stronger emotional connection with fans, elevating their investment in the sport and its personalities. This not only boosts viewership and fan loyalty but also enhances the value of the sporting brand.

In the case of the EHF, this documentary aligns with their mission to present handball in a more dynamic and engaging light, attracting new fans and retaining the interest of existing ones.

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