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Gamification Activation Ideas for Your Next Sports Sponsorship Opportunity

by | March 1, 2024

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Before you dive in, if you are an athlete looking for sponsorship, check out these titles in our “sponsorship for athletes” series:

Sports sponsorship continues to gain momentum, with multi-million-dollar opportunities being penned left and right. Between sports betting, sponsoring leagues and teams, and supporting individual athletes, there are so many ways sponsorship nestles neatly into sports.

That’s why every brand under the sun has tried its hand at sports sponsorship, from food/beverage businesses to insurance brands, tech companies, and even controversial products like alcohol and cigarettes.

The average activation isn’t going to get the job done in sports sponsorship. You need something gripping, engaging, and attention-grabbing, which explains why gamification has risen to prominence so quickly. 

Do you have a sports sponsorship opportunity formulating and want to explore gamification? I have gamification activation ideas galore for you, so let’s get into it! 

Why Your Sports Sponsorship Opportunity Needs Gamification Activations

If your assets and activations valued for less than you anticipated, it’s time to add gamification to the mix. Your sponsorship opportunity value will shoot up due to all these advantages. 

Engages Your Audience

An interactive exhibit or game is going to grab your audience’s attention far more than a straightforward booth where all they can do is look at what’s on display or sign up via email for a free sample. They get to interact, which will drive up their engagement and interest. 

That’s what you need for a successful sponsorship arrangement. While a sports team or league has no problem getting an audience excited, a sponsor in a less heart-pumping industry like insurance needs a boost to get the audience smiling from ear to ear. 

This is where gamification activations shine brightest. 

Creates an Unforgettable Experience

For many, attending a sports game is a life-changing experience, especially if they get to sit front row or in the closest section. It might seem impossible to top that thrill, but that’s not true! A gamification activation will stick out in the attendee’s mind as part of what made the entire day so unforgettable. 

Introduces Opportunities for Personalization

Personalizing marketing experiences yields better outcomes, as the audience feels like you understand their needs and challenges and reacted in kind. 

How do you personalize a gamification activation? By identifying the pain points of your audience and crafting an activation that answers or solves those pain points.

When your activation has a customized edge, it will resonate more with your audience, create a more favorable impression of the sponsor in their mind, and increase outcomes like conversions, qualified leads, website traffic, email subscribers, and social media followers. 

Elevates ROI

One of the most paramount outcomes a sponsor wants is greater ROI, and they can get it through gamification activation ideas.

Simply put, the more engaged an audience is, the more likely they are to interact with the sponsor. More so than merely interacting, they’re likelier to sign up for an email list, try a free product sample, or even purchase a product. 

This can lead to instant sales for the sponsor as well as later sales as the attendees enter and progress through the sales funnel. 

The ROI also increases for the sports team or organization. When sports show attendees have a great time at an event, they’re more willing to spend money on tickets and merch. 

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Spreads Word-of-Mouth Marketing 

When people have an epic experience, they won’t stop talking about it. Word-of-mouth marketing is much more powerful than any advertising or marketing effort you can come up with. That’s not a knock on your marketing abilities, just that consumers trust other consumers more.

Whether it’s a glowing social media post or a conversation had over drinks, when people talk about your brand, lots of good happens. Your sponsor’s name inevitably gets brought up too, trickling down the goodness to them. 

Top Gamification Activation Ideas to Level Up Your Sports Sponsorship Property 

Are you gearing up to pitch a sponsorship deal to a big sports league or player? These gamification activation ideas will help you get started. Please feel free to modify and add to them as you see fit for your specific sponsor. 


Most people who attend sports games are diehard fans. Test the extent of their knowledge with virtual trivia. You can connect this to RFID badges attendees wear around their necks or on their arms as a watch, requiring them to use the badge to sign in for virtual trivia.

Keep the trivia questions short but sweet, asking no more than 10. You want to hold the audience’s attention but not test the limits of it. Plus, too much trivia takes away from the action, the game itself!

You can also air trivia questions on the Jumbotron during intermission, requiring the use of an app or RFID badge to answer. 

Trivia needs prizes to encourage more participation. A cash prize is going to grab attention, but since you need to tie the sponsor to your activation, I’d recommend a prize from them. 

Gamification App

If financially feasible, you could consider creating an app (with a developer and designer) in conjunction with the sports game/league/division sponsoring you. 

Many mobile apps have introduced gamification, from Waze to Target, the Nike Run Club, and McDonald’s. Of course, these aren’t all apps for sports sponsorship, but it goes to show how popular the art of gamification has become in apps.

How do you gamify the app experience? You can roll out a badge system when users achieve certain milestones for completing tasks. Location-based tasks are especially popular and very much in line with a sport sponsorship.

User rewards are also an excellent way to make use of an app, increasing downloads. 

VIP Experiences 

Who doesn’t love to feel like a VIP? That’s why so many people pay premium money for behind-the-scenes experiences with early event access, meet and greets, and premium experiences. 

Propose to your sports sponsor a gamified VIP experience. For example, attendees with a specific credit card might get a premium block of seating (such as in an event box), concessions, food and drink, and early access. 

They can also play exclusive games, like spin-to-win, with limited-edition prizes only they’re eligible to win. 

You could have users scan their RFID bracelets or badges to get in, ensuring that only the intended VIPs get to enjoy the cream of the crop. 

If you’re looking to spread word-of-mouth marketing, VIP experiences are one of the best ways to do it. People will not be able to stop talking about what an amazing time they had feeling like a king or queen. 


The athletes are usually the ones competing on the field or court, not the attendees, but who says they get to have all the fun? 

Competitions of all kinds are great gamification activations. You could create an activation where attendees throw baskets into a hoop at a basketball game or see who can kick a field goal the furthest.

Here are some more sports-related competitions to consider incorporating into your sports sponsorship activation:

  • Thumb wars
  • Short races
  • Rock climbing on a small course (indoor or outdoor)
  • Betting on digital horses 

The key to competitions is keeping them a.) easy to participate in and b.) not too difficult or strenuous. You don’t want it to be so easy that anyone can win, because then there’s no incentive to participate, but it can’t be so hard that people are left sweating and exhausted. They won’t be able to enjoy the event.

Competitions should be free to enter to reduce the barrier to entry. Alternatively, you could require an RFID badge or bracelet scan, but you still shouldn’t charge.

The prize must be worth the effort. Giving away a sponsor’s products or services should achieve that objective. You could even come up with a creative name for a cash prize that includes the sponsor and give that out to a lucky winner. 


Do you notice anything about most video games today? They have leaderboards because they foster the spirit of healthy competition. People love seeing their names at the top of the leaderboard; it’s an instant endorphin rush.

Of course, those who aren’t at the top will strive to get there, doing what they can to usurp the top winner. 

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That’s why I recommend leaderboards as a gamification activation for your next sports sponsorship opportunity. You can create leaderboards based on who has answered the most trivia questions correctly, who kicked furthest in your football competition, or even who has made the most posts using the event hashtag. 

Since most people won’t settle for just having their names on the board, but will be eager to climb to the top, you can expect more of whatever the activity is related to the leaderboard. 

That means more people participating in your competition to see if they can win, more people sharing your content on social media, and generally, more people partaking in your activation. 

Scavenger Hunts

Another way to get that spirit of competition burning bright is by hosting a scavenger hunt. The thrill is in the chase, so give people something fun to go after by creating engaging clues. 

Depending on what kinds of venue permissions you have, you can do a scavenger hunt in the arena. Obviously, you will have to keep attendees off the field or court for safety reasons, but otherwise, most parts of the building should be fair game.

If you can’t get the permission you need, why not try a digital scavenger hunt instead? These became popular around COVID but stuck around because they’re lower-cost and easier to pull off than IRL scavenger hunts.

You can also tap into the grandiosity of a scavenger hunt when it’s digital, as you’re not bound to the rules of reality. 

If people will pour their time into your scavenger hunt, you better believe you need a great prize to make it worth their while. The same prizes I’ve discussed already suffice here. 

Live Polls

Put your finger on the pulse of what your audience is thinking and feeling by issuing sponsored live polls. 

You can run the polls before the game/match, in the middle during intermission, and then at the end. However, expect less participation as the night’s festivities draw to a close, as most people are more interested in getting out of there and going home. 

Live polls can present valuable insights into your audience, but are altogether not the highest-value asset you can provide. That’s not to discourage you from using them, but you must have several higher-ticket activations on the card as well. 

Social Media Wall 

Another testament to the fact that people love to see their names and faces being spotlighted is the popularity of the social media wall. Sure, it’s maybe not the most groundbreaking activation in the 2020s, but an activation doesn’t always have to be innovative. 

If it solves a need your sponsor has and a need your audience has, then it’s good to go. That’s all it has to do. 

A social media wall allows those who couldn’t get their names on the leaderboard to get their share of the spotlight. 

Of course, they don’t get their name in lights for nothing. They must tweet or post using your event hashtag for a chance to be featured. 


The last gamification-related sports sponsorship activation I recommend is shoutouts. You can shout out random members of the crowd before and during the game via the Jumbotron, giving them their moment in the sun. 

While you could feature a random assortment of attendees, connecting this activation to your sponsor means their inclusion should be dependent on what they do. For example, you can show off the person who slammed the most dunks or wore the coolest outfit. 

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Wrapping Up 

Gamifying sponsorship activations is becoming a hot trend, especially in sports, where activations are frequently larger-than-life. 

Activations with a gamification element have better engagement, often higher participation, and will drive a greater ROI because they’re more memorable. They’re also an excellent form of free word-of-mouth marketing. 

Do you want to supercharge your next sports sponsorship opportunity and need assistance ideating activations? Contact our team at the Sponsorship Collective for a booking call to discuss your goals.