When it comes to sports marketing, the game is always changing. Sure, there are marketing plan mainstays, and some recent trends have already become mainstream. But for every trend that finds footing, fails or fades away, another pops up in its place. In some cases, traditional strategies become all the rage again.
By definition, sports marketing spans a variety of products, including sports teams, sporting events and venues and athletes endorsing an array of brands, as well as sports associations, such as the Olympics, Major League Baseball and the National Football League.
Though you don’t have to be the Yankees to learn from sports marketing trends. Any brand can tap into sports marketing, forge sports partnerships and practice some of the top trends that are winning over fans and scoring big-league revenue.
While superstars and advertising have long gone hand in hand, the trend continues to skyrocket for celebrity endorsements. Whether it’s a TV star modeling sports swag or an Olympian smiling from a cereal box, every brand is eager to benefit from the crossover.
Now athlete endorsement deals alone are a multi-billion dollar business in which they endorse products ranging from sports equipment to cars. Contracts far exceed their salaries, sometimes more than tripling them.
Take Tiger Woods. Based on a study done by SI.com, in 2011, golf’s scandal-plagued prodigal son earned $1,940,238 from the PGA Tour. His earnings from endorsements? A remarkable $54,500,000. Besting him was Phil “Lefty” Mickelson, who recorded $3,763,488 in salary and winnings––and endorsements totaling up to $57,000,000 from Callaway, Rolex, and Barclays (just to name a few diverse brands).
CSR/Corporate Social Responsibility
Of course, there’s always been a blurry line between athlete and role model. And given some of their reputations, athlete worship might be better left to their performances in their sports, rather than on the streets.
Still, as in every business, demonstrating corporate social responsibility has become increasingly linked to the sports industry. Sports marketing and good causes are mixing, with more and more high-profile partnerships forming to create corporate social responsibility campaigns. Sincere charitable relationships that show real commitment provide a fantastic opportunity to give back to the community and spread goodwill, while enriching the brand’s image.
That’s a big word for activities that engage fans and reward them for their participation. Consider it a loyalty program in which fans accumulate points for everything from playing actual games or simply interacting with the brand (like watching videos or posting comments and sharing stories on social networks). In turn, they can redeem these points for merchandise, contest entries and more.
They are watching, they are playing, and they are buying. Women are not only dedicated athletes, they are obsessed sports buffs who cheer on favorite teams just as loudly as their male counterparts. Yet the sports marketing world seems to be a step behind the rest in recognizing the fanaticism––not to mention the purchasing power––of the ladies. Finally, though, we are seeing a current trend in fun, enlightened campaigns aimed at female athletes and fans.
The armchair quarterback now has a live audience. Even during the height of mid-game action, fans are dividing their attention between the TV screen and their computer and mobile screens. In real time, they can trash talk with other sports fans on Facebook and Twitter, enter polls and contests, learn extra stats and watch instant replays and highlight reels.
Advertisers are cashing in by tying in promotions, commercials and experiences targeting these superfans. Rather than viewing them as annoying distractions, fans consider it all amped-up coverage that fully immerses them in the game.