A New Challenge for Sports Marketers: Turning Spectators Into Participants

Jacksonville Jaguars CMO wants to get fans into the game virtually

Breana Mallamaci

How do you get sports fans into the game without them physically being there?

That question was already on Julian Duncan’s mind before fears about the coronavirus prompted athletic leagues to suspend games and play in empty arenas. The CMO of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars joined us for an episode of Top of Mind at Adweek’s CMO Moves Summit in New York last month, and his call for teams to innovate feels even more relevant today.

His biggest challenge as a marketer? Figuring out how to break the proverbial fourth wall and allow fans to truly participate in the game. His team has experimented with an app called Your Call Football, which lets users choose one of four plays from a coach. Then, the coach runs the play that gets the most votes.

“That’s a great toe in the water,” Duncan said. “I think that’s the next frontier for sport—figuring out a way to break through that fourth wall, figuring out a way to bring fans even closer to the action.” He added that he’s looking for partners with innovative solutions around that problem.

Also on Duncan’s mind is how to nurture sports careers, from recruiting more people of color to underrepresented front offices, to preparing athletes for second careers well before their time on the field is up. You can hear more from him about blurring the lines between athletes, gamers and fans on the CMO Moves podcast.

@stephpaterik stephanie.paterik@adweek.com Stephanie Paterik is the executive editor of Adweek, where she leads the editorial staff and strategy.