Aimee Freedland manages the financial services and insurance brands within Nielsen Sports in North America. Her experience includes media analytics, custom research and holistic sponsorship valuation. Before joining Nielsen Sports (previously Repucom), Aimee spent nine years in client services at Experian, managing Fortune 500 Brand clients’ cross-channel marketing campaigns. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of California, Davis and a Bachelor of Arts degree in European Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles.
What do you do at Nielsen Sports?
I manage the financial services and insurance clients within the brands vertical at Nielsen Sports. My team provides brands like MetLife, Citibank, GEICO and Credit One Bank with sports sponsorship data including television, social and online media valuation, holistic sponsorship measurement, custom and syndicated research, and fan profiling data.
Explain your background and how that has been helpful in working with insurance and financial services organizations?
As a college student, I started my first real job as a teller at Wells Fargo Bank which led me to my internship in graduate school with the credit card marketing group at the corporate headquarters of Wells Fargo. After graduating from business school, I decided to change my career path to what I loved most, client services, and took a job with Experian Marketing Services where I managed a large portfolio of clients helping with digital marketing campaigns. The combination of understanding the financial services space and my nine years of client services experience with Experian made it an easy fit and transition to working with insurance and financial services organizations at Nielsen Sports.
Just how big of players are insurance and financial services companies in sports?
Insurance and financial services companies accounted for over $1.2 Billion in U.S. QI Media Value and 16% of total share of value for the full 2016-17 season within our entire Nielsen Sports syndicated media data in the U.S. This is a 26% growth in value from three years prior, so I would say they are not only big players, but big players who continue to invest. While State Farm and GEICO lead the category in sponsorship spend and media value domestically, we continue to see new players in the space, making it a fairly crowded, competitive and active category.
What are insurance and financial services companies looking to get out of sports sponsorship?
Insurance and financial services companies don’t have the luxury of selling “fun” products that are in high demand or top of mind for people attending or watching sporting events, but they have the same end goal of those brands — increasing awareness and consideration. That being said, the majority of my insurance and financial services clients sponsor sports to increase that awareness of their brand as well as for the hospitality aspect and a way to tell their story and push corporate social responsibility initiatives. Through sports sponsorship, my clients are able to provide their customers, whether those are agents or actual end users, as well as their employees, with unique experiences that will help build loyalty for the brand. Through their activations, they are able to tell their story to help align their initiatives with the sport or event in which they sponsor.
Tell us about some characteristics of the best activations you have seen.
As an NFL fan, I would have to say that MetLife’s activations at MetLife Stadium are some of the best I have seen recently. In 2016, MetLife changed their tagline to “MetLife – Navigating Life Together” which put more of an emphasis on helping people adapt to life changes. It was a big change for them after cutting ties with Peanuts characters and by updating their activations with their largest sponsorship, MetLife Stadium, they were able to remind people what MetLife stands for. They do this in a number of ways including through field turf just outside the stadium where they have an express line to enter and meet and greets, to green screens where photos can be taken to commemorate the experience, as well as with a benefits desk where people can get certificates if they are first time attendees and even receive a gift. I find these activations to be great in enhancing attendees experiences at the stadium, all while bringing awareness to MetLife and building a connection between the brand and the sport.
What are some of the trends you are seeing in the industry?
One trend I have started to see in the industry is the growth of live experiences through Virtual Reality technology, whether within the stadium or in homes. These experiences allow people to be closer to the action and experience it as if they were part of the event. My client, AIG, created a phone app in 2015 so All Blacks’ fans could experience the Haka, giving fans the feeling of being on the field. The experience was like no other, allowing people to learn more about the sport of rugby and connect with the team, the brand and the sport. With the way fans are interacting with sport, I believe we will continue to see enhancements in how VR technology brings sports to life and enhances the fan experience.
You can reach Aimee via email at firstname.lastname@example.org