Building a new sporting brand through AI

Sydney Sixter's general manager shares the emerging technology fuelled ways the team is building awareness

Australian consumers are known for their love of sport. But for any new team that wants to build an audience, establishing a brand among so much competing noise can be a difficult challenge.

For clubs in short-format cricket competition, the Big Bash League, that challenge is made harder by the relative shortness of the season, which kicks off with the women’s competition starting in mid-October and concludes with the men’s season final in early February.

According to Sydney Sixter's general manager, Jodie Hawkins, that doesn’t allow a lot of time to build a loyal following – something the club has been working to rectify using of technology.

So in 2018, Sydney Sixter's launched its own chatbot in conjunction with artificial intelligence specialists, Carrington Associates, using the Watson cognitive computing platform for IBM.

“We are in the public view for such a short period of time that we wanted to make sure we had a way to continue to engage and communicate with our fans,” Hawkins says. “That was where our technology strategy started from – how can we be a club that is interactive for 12 months of the year.”

In 2019, that strategy has been extended through connecting the Sydney Sixter's chatbot, named after the club mascot, Syd (a walking white and pink numeral six), to the Facebook Messenger platform. Hawkins says the goal is to reach fans through a medium where they are already present, rather than asking them to download a new app.

“For us it is about how we can share information, so people don’t have to go into an app to get that,” Hawkins says. “The Big Bash is all about fan-first, so we are all about creating and using innovation that allows our fans to get closer to the club.”

She says use of the Messenger-based chatbot is also in line with increasing expectations of fans.

“They want to know the news first and they want it conveniently, so we have to be much smarter about the way that we engage,” Hawkins says. “While this is all fun, it is kind of critical, otherwise we are going to lose people. Our core market is mums with kids aged 5 to 15, so technology is where we need to be engaging, but it means we constantly need to stay ahead of the curve as well, which is increasingly difficult.

“That is why we work with companies like Carrington Associates, which can make sure we are staying on trend and ahead of the curve and continue to evolve year on year.”

While the Messenger platform enables Sydney Sixter's to push information to fans, it also enables the club to more easily engage in conversations, as the AI platform can provide immediate responses to relatively complex questions. The chatbot will also push announcements relating to players and fixtures, such as contract extensions and injury updates.

Hawkins says she is mindful, however, not to bombard fans with more information than they want.

“We are going to learn a lot over the next couple of years,” she says. “As we start to see how people use it, we are going to see what they like and don’t like and what information they are seeking, and we can build from there.

“The second you abuse that is the second you lose everyone, and you lose the purpose of the technology in the first place.”

Use of the chatbot is the latest in a string of technology-based initiatives from the Sydney Sixter's, which has previously developed projects based on augmented and virtual reality.

“We are only eight years old, going into our ninth year, and we are trying to build affinity,” Hawkins says. “We need to do that with as many touchpoints as possible, and technology is one of the key channels with us as we move forward to keep in touch with our fans.”

Read more about how brands are using chatbots:

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia

 

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

Conversations over a cuppa with CMO: Microsoft's Pip Arthur

​In this latest episode of our conversations over a cuppa with CMO, we catch up with the delightful Pip Arthur, Microsoft Australia's chief marketing officer and communications director, to talk about thinking differently, delivering on B2B connection in the crisis, brand purpose and marketing transformation.

More Videos

The versatility of Live Chat is really what surprises me. I’ve seen it being used not only for customer support, but also as a tool to in...

Drishti Shah

Why Bupa tapped WhatsApp for new customer messaging channel

Read more

Hi This is George, Thanks for sharing this nice information about foodpanda blockchain. During this pandemic situation food delivery indu...

George David

foodpanda launches blockchain-based out-of-home advertising campaign

Read more

Did anyone proofread this document before it was published?

Beau Ushay

CMO Momentum 2020: How to embrace agile marketing

Read more

An honest and hardworking conveyancer doesn't need a marketing strategy. His past clients will spread the word for him. These days the ho...

Bagen Andrea

What this millennial marketer is doing to shake up conveyancing

Read more

Love the post. It is so insightful for companies getting stuck in their habits and missing out on the role innovation can have on revenue...

Alessia Del Genio

How Lego built its culture of innovation, brick by brick

Read more

Blog Posts

Innovate or die

It’s hard to know if famed management and marketing guru, Peter Drucker, coined this phrase for dramatic effect. My belief is he was emphasising the notion that few products and markets are static and few organisations can survive without innovation.

Michael Valos

Senior Lecturer, Department of Marketing, Deakin University

Commissioning personas that get used

How to avoid the bottom drawer, and how to get value from the work you’ve paid for

Melanie Wiese

Chief strategy officer, Wunderman Thompson

Why It’s Going To Be A Bumper Holiday Season Despite the Pandemic

Behavioural science expert Dan Monheit, co-founder and strategy director of creative agency, Hardhat, writes that marketing chiefs should hold their nerve, as they have reason to be optimistic

Dan Monheit

Co-founder, Hardhat

Sign in