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Sports brands and Coronavirus – a match made in hell

by Holly Crosby Holly Crosby


  • Posted on Friday 3rd April, 2020

Sport is central to the livelihood of so many, particularly here at HatchWhether it’s playing, watching or attending live fixtures and eventsthe world is just not the same without it! If we hadn’t already, I’m sure we’ve all realised that over the last couple of weeks. 

Impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic, the entire sport industry is facing a huge challenge as our experiences with sports brands, clubs and events are put on hold. As we follow Government guidelines to #StayHomeStaySafeit’s key for brands to think creatively and fill the void to keep their audiences engaged. 

From ad campaigns and online experiences, to social media content and community initiatives, wthink it’s important to recognise brands that have adapted and created in order to keep the sporting spirit alive 

Nike effectively used the profile of the brand and their sponsored athletes to urge the need for social distancing with the ‘Play Inside, Play for The World’ ad campaignThe campaign used social media as a platform to communicate a powerful message: ‘If you ever dreamed of playing for millions of people around the world, now is your chance’. Various sports stars including Rafael Nadal, Cristiano Ronaldo and Tiger Woods who posted the campaign ad and hashtag, along with an image of themselves keeping active indoors  encouraging others to do the same. 

From all of the user-generated-content appearing on social media, like the kid who played as striker AND goalkeeper at the same time and professional footballers doing live workouts for their followers to join, it’s obvious that people want to stay engaged with sport. As part of this, fun ‘stay at home’ challenges, including The toilet roll keepy-uppie challenge, have gone viral. 

To respond to fans craving sport content, brands are putting out fun content on their channels to keep their followers entertainedPowerleague have featured challenges on social, such as Noughts and Crosses, as well as the #Powerquiz and video exercise programmesHummel put a kit design template on Twitter so that parents could print it for a home-schooling activity to help keep the kids occupied. Sporf are creating sport-related quizzes across their channels, such as ‘Forgotten Footballers’ which followers could take part in via Twitter.  

Various Sporting Bodies have created virtual alternatives, so that fans can continue to experience their sport in a new way and keep active whilst social distancing is in place: 

  • After the National Championship was called off, Skateboard England has announced the competition will go virtual – skateboard athletes will compete by submitting a video of a trick, filmed at home. Fans will be able to get involved by voting via social media using #VirtualNationalChamps. 

In the circumstances we’re all facing, community spirit is fundamental. Across the UK we’re seeing people help each other and Premier League clubs are doing their bit too: Manchester Utd and Man City joined forces to support local food banks; Everton’s ‘Blue Family’ scheme is helping with mental health advise and phone credit; Bournemouth players have been calling fans who are self-isolating alone; Chelsea have opened the Stamford Bridge Hotel to serve as NHS staff accommodation. Not to forget the UltimateQuaranTeam FIFA tournament set up by Leyton Orient to raise money for EFL clubs, which saw fans and professional footballers take part globally – SkyBet even opened a sportsbook on the results, following their £25,000 donation.  

Also recognising the remarkable efforts of health care and social workers across the UK during COVID-19, the RLWC2021 are donating 20,021 tickets to those key workers for next year’s tournament. 

Where possible, brands are making things happen so that fans can still enjoy the sport they love, which is great to see. Here at Hatch, sport is a big part of what we do, and like everyone we’re missing the jam-packed sports calendar we’re all used to. We’re working hard to ensure our sports brands keep the audiences they’ve worked so hard to build, and that they’re in as good a place as possible to kick on once life returns to ‘normal’. 


We all appreciated sport before, we will even more after this.  

If there’s anything we can do to help your brand now or in the future when sport commences again, we’d love to hear from you – hello@hatchpr.co.uk / @HATCHcomms