A Winning Approach: Viral Sports Campaigns

January 16, 2017 -
  • Brand Strategy
  • Marketing Objectives
  • Social Media
  • sports marketing

social media, trophy, sports marketing,

As we support Waterloo Region’s #WeRally2021 bid for the Canada Games, we spend a significant amount researching grassroots campaigns and viral marketing solutions. While our campaign budgets are significantly less than some of these leading contenders, they show the power of a hashtag, an image, a game.


BC Lions share their excitement over Twitter for the CFL season opener using the hashtag #IsItJuneYet

As an Argos fan, I’m a big fan of the Canadian Football League (CFL). The CFL, often overshadowed by their big brother, the NFL, has been extremely creative in their social media outreach and #IsItJuneYet is just one example.

Using YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and (the new deceased) Vine, #IsItJuneYet highlighted the community and grassroots excitement that diehard fans have for the season opener. Athletes from across the country utilized the hashtag and fans eagerly added their own flare into the campaign, generating 1.4 million impressions from nearly 600 users in the campaign’s last week.


Hands down, this was the video that made me subscribe to a Barre class. With nearly 10 million views and millions of interactions using the #ThisGirlCan hashtag, this campaign has motivated thousands of women and girls in the UK to become physically active. Using pop culture and real women who did not fit the stereotypical athletic body type. By centering the campaign around body types that all women could identify with, it broke barriers and encouraged people who wouldn’t normally be physically active take an important first step.

The real impact, however, doesn’t come from the videos and the social campaigns, it comes from the user generated content as women across the UK submit stories highlighting how #ThisGirlCan through the website. Not only were they incredibly moving but they generate inspiration that no scripted campaign could achieve alone.

Young girl posed with boxing gloves for #ThisGirlCan campaign


Orlando City SC's Instagram feed screenshot of their #PurpleFriday scavenger hunt campaign

Orlando City SC took social media scavenger hunts to the next level. Using Twitter, Instagram, and Periscope, the marketing team hide three pairs of tickets to an upcoming game around Orlando. Not only did they use multiple channels, they utilized each channel differently to interact with different audiences using the best methods of each channel.

For their Periscope clues, they gave code words in their live streams. After hearing the code word, fans took to the streets to find the social media. Once they found the team, you had to give the code word to get the tickets. Their Twitter-based engagement had three clues on the location of the hidden tickets. It only took one clue for one lucky fan to score. Last, and certainly not least as it was my favourite of the three, their Instagram clues came in the format of a nine-panel post (3x3) with each section of the picture posted every minute until it was completely reveal. Six tickets later and thousands of interactions with fans in Orlando, Orlando City SC’s scavenger hunt was a huge hit.

The best part? This guy’s reaction to finding tickets:

Samantha Estoesta Williams believes that Research is her middle name. With an MA in Intercultural and International Communications and over seven years in advocacy, community development, and grant-writing, she centers her efforts on growing communities through reciprocal relationships. In her role at Mad Hatter in Community Engagement and Government Relations, Samantha creates attractive proposals for RFPs, applies for grants for Mad Hatter and their clients, and liaisons between Mad Hatter, governmental agencies, and community organizations. Samantha blends her academic skills of research and communications with her experience in both public and private sectors, fueled by her passion to create community.
Written on January 16, 2017 by