The famous words once uttered by LeBron James as he declared he would be leaving Cleveland to play for Miami have taken on new meaning in the form of a memo released this month by Florida state officials who now deem that employees of professional sports and media production companies (only if the location is closed to the general public) have been added to Florida's list of "essential services" permitted to operate during COVID-19.
It remains to be seen whether sports leagues will flock to Florida to begin or resume their seasons and/or whether other states will adopt Florida's approach. However, the WWE has since returned to hosting live matches with the airing of "Monday Night Raw" from its Performance Center based out of Orlando. In addition to the WWE, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis mentioned that NASCAR races and potentially a golf match up between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson could be held in Florida.
The MLB, like many leagues, has been mulling over a variety of scenarios to carry out its season. Because MLB spring training takes place in Florida with the Grapefruit League and in Arizona with the Cactus League, both states have several baseball stadiums which could be used to play baseball games in a round robin fashion utilizing stadiums in both states, or hosting all games in one state.
Finding ways for sports to safely resume could present advertisers with a variety of ways to engage consumers who are eager for sports content. For example, it could provide new opportunities for advertisers to partner with leagues and athletes for sponsorship deals and apparel merchandising, and it could enable parties to existing sponsorship agreements to fulfill their service obligations, perhaps in some innovative ways. In addition to commercials, advertisers could create themed apparel (e.g., Cactus League 2020), utilize social media platforms to engage users with in app games, trivia, and filters (e.g., virtual kiss and dance cams), and sell branded snacks and beverages.
We'll keep you posted as we learn more about the impact of this development.