BLOG POST BY: The Goat Agency
July 4, 2024

How Brands Can Connect with Gen Z Sports Fans Through Social and Influencers

Gen Z stands as one of the largest, and perhaps the most engaged cohorts in the digital world. Among this vast audience are the next generation of sports fans, but the challenge many brands in the sports industry face is connecting with them.  

With Almost half of Gen Z audiences having never attended a live professional sporting event, and only 53% counting themselves as actual sports fans, is there an alarming disconnect between the sports sector and our young consumers?

For brands in sport, the focus has long been on traditional advertising channels like TV since most major sports events are controlled by broadcasting networks. This makes sense, but Gen Z aren’t engaging with linear television, they’re streaming and consuming content on social.

So, how can you reach them? Join us as we navigate the depths of social media, and piece together creative solutions to help your brand connect with Gen Z around present and future sporting events. 


Understanding the power of Gen Z

Is Gen Z even interested in sport?

How brands can reach Gen Z sports fans 

Sports brands have identified TikTok as the conduit for Gen Z engagement

How brands are engaging with Gen Z around the summer of sport using influencers

Concluding thoughts – connecting with Gen Z during the summer of sport

Gen Z In Sports

Understanding the power of Gen Z

Gen Z comprises people born between 1996 and 2010. This generation is the first to be shaped by the digital world. They are digital natives, known for shopping, consuming media, dating, and making friends online. 

As Gen Z reaches maturity, their spending power becomes more important within the global economy. Last year, Snapchat revealed that Gen Z commanded over $450 billion in spending power globally. 

The generation’s spending power shows no signs of slowing. For brands looking to reach this demographic, you must restructure your marketing strategy to consider their preferences, where they spend their time, how they consume their media, and what will drive them towards an action. 

Is Gen Z even interested in sport?

While there are studies that suggest Gen Z isn’t engaging with sports, it would be ill-judged to assume that an entire generation, made up of roughly 22% of the population, isn’t tuned into the sporting world. 

Don’t let the stats fool you, Gen Z is interested in sport. On TikTok, a platform characterized by Gen Z, you’ve got communities like #Football (54M posts), #Basketball (16M posts), and #Boxing (6M posts). That’s not to mention the vast quantity of athletes, sports leagues, organizations and actual tournaments themselves that have their own TikTok accounts. And some of them have pretty big followings, including the NBA (21.9M followers), the Premier League (15.9M followers),  the UFC (14.7M followers), and the NFL (14.2M followers).

Of course Gen Z is interested in sport. The issue for brands is they’re trying to connect with them in all the wrong places. 

How brands can reach Gen Z sports fans 

Traditionally, sporting events sit on a broadcasting platform, which means the energy and the creativity has been focused towards linear television. The reality is that Gen Z does not watch linear television. But, where they do spend time is on social media – some Gen Zers can average up to 2 hours 43 minutes per day on social.

For many brands, TV is still the main priority when it comes to sports, but to reach Gen Z that focus needs to swing toward social. It’s vital for brands and agencies alike to focus on really driving that conversation on social. “Imagine an iceberg, the TV output is the tip, and then underneath you’ve got the iceberg itself. We should be driving that 90% through social, and making sure the content has a second life.” said Dom Hyams, Head of Strategy at Purple Goat Agency. 

The obvious step, which many sporting outlets and brands have taken, is to be present on social media and circulate the style of content that resonates with Gen Z. For this generation, short-form content is king, they took to TikTok faster than any other demographic. Some of the world’s leading sports organizations have made it their mission to capture the eyes and ears of Gen Z on TikTok, creating content that taps into the style and formatting that resonates with younger audiences. 

Sports brands have identified TikTok as the conduit for Gen Z engagement

Formula 1

Formula One, Formula 1, or F1, is the highest class of international racing for open-wheel single-seater formula racing cars. The organization is present across most major social platforms, with TikTok being their main conduit for connecting with Gen Z.

The nature of Formula 1 and Gen Z contrasts quite heavily. On one hand, Formula 1 has quite a lengthy viewing experience, taking up a full weekend with three stages of qualifying followed by the Grand Prix. On the other hand, you’ve got Gen Z, whose attention span is infamously short. Formula 1 has identified a way of engaging the next generation of fans, packaging their content into bite size snippets on TikTok. 

TikTok has also enabled Formula 1 to bring their fans moments they wouldn’t see during broadcast, like this moment of a “sleepy” Lewis Hamilton sharing the sofa with rival Max Verstappen. And, like any great TikToker, Formula 1 keeps up to date with the trends, just check out their video tying into the (enormous) conversation around Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour. 

TikTok has helped Formula 1 focus on the moments in between, an area where TV falls short. By highlighting these moments, fans on the platform get a closer look at what goes on off the track as well as on it. 


Overtime, owns and operates leagues in basketball, football and boxing, and has around 75% of its employees dedicated to the digital space, prioritizing short form content.

Everything about Overtime, across any of its social channels, screams Gen Z. The content they post, the language they use, you just know that anyone over the age of 28 is scratching their head after reading “best drip in the league.”

Over on TikTok, Overtime is flooding the FYP with everything from basketball updates, to hot debates about what we called our childhood games, and even oddly unsatisfying videos. 

At SBJ’s Brand Innovation Summit, Overtime’s VP of league partnerships, Jack Jenkins spoke about how the brand has set out to prioritize digital content, particularly short form video, when seeking to engage younger audiences. “It doesn’t mean that our live games aren’t beautiful and fun to watch, [but] it’s not going to be our number one driver of the business moving forward,” added Jenkins. 

How brands can connect with Gen Z organically

From an organic social perspective, these brands are ticking the right boxes when it comes to engaging with Gen Z. They’re providing content that is formatted to their consumption habits, resonating with the demographic with the content they like, and the language they use, and staying reactive during key sporting moments. 

Organic social enables brands to be reactive to key events, tap into their community, and ride the wave of different trends within sports. Speaking at our virtual event discussing the partnership between influencers and sport, Piet Dayney, Social Media Manager at Goat, highlighted the importance of reactivity during key moments. “You need to keep a pulse on what people are talking about, especially your key demographics. If they’re into a certain moment at an event, make sure you’re talking about that as early as possible. This could be as small as a brand posting a meme in relation to a viral moment or tapping into community management, which a lot of brands fall asleep on.”

How brands are engaging with Gen Z around the summer of sport using influencers

Spending time on social usually translates to spending time engaging with influencer content. Incessantly online, Gen Z is inherently trusting of social media personalities. TikTok has surpassed Google as their search engine, and they turn to social media for guidance on everything from style and news to restaurants and sports.

Influencers have become a much bigger part of the mix. As a result, more brands have sought out influencer talent ahead of their Euros, Wimbledon, and Olympics activations this summer. 


One of the UK’s leading suppliers of sportswear, JD have been popping off over on TikTok, bringing in creators to spearhead their Euros activations. 

The brand has been working with a number of prominent UK creators on Euros-related content, but they appointed one man to lead the charge, AngryGinge. JD sent the YouTuber, real name Morgan Burtwistle, out to Germany to get amongst the fans, create street style interviews, attend the games, and bring the Euros experience to the JD feed. 

Ginge has been following the England national team across Germany giving fans his reaction to the results so far, which in footballing terms haven’t been even remotely exciting. But, his reaction sums up the feelings of the nation, who have been bitterly disappointed in what we’ve seen so far on the pitch. Ginge closely resembles the England fandom, and his connection to Gen Z, being one himself, has helped bring the demographic along for the journey. 


@angryginge13 live on the ground and talking to the fans in Frankfurt🎙️ #JDSports #JD #AngryGinge #England #Euro2024 #Football

♬ original sound – JD Sports


Coca-Cola launched #TheRitualCup, a campaign celebrating fans’ football rituals for the Euros on TikTok. 

The soft drink brand brought in TikTokers from all over Europe to truly capture the Euros experience, and appeal to the fans of all the nations competing in the tournament. 

The campaign’s content explored each creator’s pre-game ritual, with each delivering it in their own unique style, catered to their audience. Italian creator Awed gave a football manager-esque team talk running through their must-haves before each game. Representing England, Irina and Josh brought a cozier feel to the Euros experience, watching from the comfort of fluffed-up pillows and lucky blanket. Coca-Cola also sent a handful of influencers to their VIP set up at one of the Euros games, with luci_lba bringing the experience to life on her TikTok.  If that wasn’t enough, they also brought in Real Madrid, and Germany footballing icon, Toni Kroos to broadcast the campaign to an even larger audience. 


Ahead of UEFA EURO 2024, I met Fan Rituals Coach, Armando to talk about all things rituals and even discovered my own lucky spot, I didn’t even know I had! Join #TheRitualCup #CocaCola

♬ Originalton – Toni Kroos

Concluding thoughts – connecting with Gen Z during the summer of sport

Use real-time engagement to stay reactive 

Nothing beats seeing hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions, of people interacting with your content on social, in real-time. The sports events unfolding this summer will spark huge conversations as fans flock to Instagram, TikTok, X, and more, to share their celebrations or frustrations. 

For brands, being present during these moments are key. These moments are where Gen Z will look to express their opinions around sport, which gives brands an opportunity to relate to them. If their national side has been bitterly disappointing, join the argument. Being present in the moment will help spur the relationship between brands and Gen Z sports fans.

Get your influencer partnerships right

With Gen Z having a significant level of trust in their favorite content creators, they can sniff out when a brand and influencer collaboration doesn’t work. For brands looking to connect with Gen Z sports fans, getting the influencer selection right is key. 

Brands should look to partner with influencers that share the same values, and really encapsulate the intended message. For example, JD absolutely nailed their partnership with Angry Ginge since both brand and creator share a similar audience, style, and persona. Ginge was almost like part of the in-house team, bringing the Euros experience to JD followers on TikTok with reactions that most of us (who unfortunately watched the England games) can relate to. 

Are you a brand looking to diversify its consumer base, and reach one of the most engaged cohorts in the digital space? Find out how we can help you connect with Gen Z today!

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Written by: The Goat Agency