Tailgating is a time-honored tradition that hits its peak every fall during the football season. And really, what’s not to love? Food hot off the grill, good-natured jabs at opposing fans and delicious beverages staying chill in Koozie® can koolers – all just a fun warmup for the game itself.

With sports conferences postponing seasons and spectators being left out due to COVID-19, traditional tailgating doesn’t seem likely this year. Which could be a blow to the promotional products industry’s popular – and lucrative – tailgate season. However, there is some good news. To ensure the tradition continues, many sports programs are hosting virtual, social-distanced tailgate events.

One success story is the Penn State Blue-White Virtual Tailgate which was held in April, encouraging fans to interact with their digital channels and show team spirit via a Zoom event. The Big 10 school saw 700 registered tailgates with 8,000 participants socially distanced with 8,812 miles separating them across the globe. Their accompanying social media campaign reached more than 3 million people and got 200,000 social engagements.

All things considered; those numbers support the idea that fans still want to celebrate their teams. And with Americans spending up to $20 billion on tailgating activities annually, (1) there is plenty of opportunity for promo items to help maximize a new tailgate experience.

Bringing the Party Home

Brands who still want to connect with the tailgating crowd can consider items that will make smaller, at-home events just as good as a huge parking lot party. Useful items like a backyard BBQ set, a small-but-mighty Bluetooth® speaker and a multi-function Koozie® Triple Can Kooler are perfect for virtual tailgating now and for when the party moves back to the stadium in the future.

Team Up to Help Out

Some districts, conferences and cities are coming together to offer special team-related merchandise with proceeds benefitting those affected by COVID-19. Using a virtual tailgating event to connect supporters of these programs with coaches/athletes and the people they helped is a memorable and meaningful way to bring sports communities together.

Think Outside the End Zone

Tailgating is synonymous with football, but going virtual gives different sports the opportunity to “tailgate” too. Brands can host virtual watch parties (which fans and their families can easily turn into a fun tailgate) for professional golf and tennis events. Make the most of shortened NBA and MLB seasons with virtual events including off-the-wall digital content that has the potential to go viral. Fans can participate in a sports-themed face mask decoration contest. Or learn more about players and coaches in a fun way, like when the University of Texas had a baseball coach shoot a video about his game day superstitions as part of their #MyTexas Tailgate.

Connect With the Crowd

No matter how your clients get involved with virtual tailgating this year, there is plenty of potential for them to connect with their target audience in a new way. Promotional products enhance and extend the impact of online events to make them even more long-lasting and memorable. A fun incentive with the invitation via snail mail or following up with a “thanks for attending” gift will go a long way towards generating goodwill in a time when people are more than ready to have some fun.

Visit bicgraphic.com to explore promos that will help your clients connect with virtual tailgaters plus thousands of other promotional products that help get brands noticed.

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