A wise coach once said, “Championships are won at practice.” This classic sports cliche sums up the immense, behind-the-scenes effort that is an essential element of any winning team. What fans see on game day is merely the end result of hours and hours of physical and mental preparation, from hitting the weights to bonding with teammates over videos games. For the die-hard sports fan dreaming of an all-access pass into this daily routine, YouTube provides an open door.
As havens for a close-knit team, sports locker rooms are notoriously difficult for your average fan to get into (just ask Drake). So, we decided to search YouTube for the keys to the door. What we found is an emerging trend for video content that savvy sports brands should consider adding to their alignment strategy.
Locker Room Tours
In general, “tour” videos on YouTube are a huge trend and can be seen across many different verticals. We recently talked about “car tours,” and also gave a broad overview of the trend in our Beyond Reviews report on video styles influencing consumer purchases. Imagine a space, and you can probably get a tour of it on YouTube. There are even “fridge tours.” The popularity of the tour video comes from its intimacy and authenticity, as you are guided through a private space by someone who has lived in it long enough to know every inch and corner like the back of their own hand.
“Locker room tours” are no different, as they frequently feature current or former players who have spent long hours and endured triumphant and painful memories all inside these elaborately appointed athletic spaces. Here is a look inside the Memphis Tigers’ locker room with linebacker Akeem Davis:
And because YouTube is where any niche interest can thrive, here is a recent tour of the Syracuse lacrosse team’s locker room with ACC Offensive Player of the Year, Kevin Rice:
While these players are surely biased in the assessment of their own team’s facilities (considering they are likely also attempting to woo future recruits as much as please their super fans) their genuine pride is undeniable. The act of opening up a private space for the world to see (and judge) can take some guts, but the possible payoff in building fan loyalty can be immeasurable.
Locker Room Speeches
We’ve all seen the epic halftime speeches from our favorite films and TV shows. But, like Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell once sang, ain’t nothin like the real thing, baby. Not to take anything away from an actor delivering a great speech (we’re looking at you, Al Pacino), but there is a big difference between perfectly rehearsed lines and the kind of spontaneous moments of inspiration delivered in the real-world locker rooms, in the midst of real games with real stakes. These moments are everywhere on YouTube.
Former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis is one of the most popular locker-room speakers out there, firing up teams around the country. Here he is talking to the Stanford men’s basketball team before an NIT tournament game:
If that doesn’t get you “pissed off for greatness,” check your pulse. Or, just check out the YouTube comments to see what you’re missing:
Locker Room Celebrations
After all the hard work during practice and all the motivational orations from the coach, the emotional release from a team after a hard-fought victory can be really powerful. This is especially true if it means the team is raising up the championship trophy.
Just watch this video of Michigan State after winning the Rose Bowl in 2014:
The locker room can barely contain the energy from the players. The feeling of pure joy is so palpable, it jumps from the screen. Often in such moments, words escape the players as they try in vain to describe their emotions. Only video can accurately capture what it really feels like to be named a champion.
Rabid sports fans never warm the bench. Once the referee blows that final whistle, or sounds the horn to end a contest, fans do not sit idly by, waiting for the next game. In the past, ZEFR has spoken to the power of the fan, but nothing compares to the power of the lifelong fan of an athletic team. The actual games are only one part of a sports fanatic’s life. With the emerging trend of locker room tours on YouTube, sports fans are quickly flocking to this insider look at their favorite team.
In today’s digital video landscape, aligning your brand only with the timeout and halftime breaks during a televised game misses an enormous opportunity to reach the most dedicated sports fans. Whether it’s those special moments in the locker room, or any of the other countless steps on an athlete’s journey to greatness, contextual targeting on YouTube allows your brand to reach the right audience in a way previously unimaginable. If your marketing playbook doesn’t include a comprehensive YouTube strategy, it’s time to gather your team and give them the speech that ensures victory.
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