Sports Marketing and Management

Subject: Sports
Pages: 12
Words: 4524
Reading time:
16 min
Study level: College


Sports marketing developed in tandem with the emergence of professional sports such as soccer, tennis and golf that equally coincided with corporate sponsorships (Summers& Morgan, 2005). Sports tournaments have provided the best opportunity for the development of sports marketing discipline through avenues such as sales promotions, corporate sponsorship and advertising. These are part of extensive marketing tools that are utilized in creating awareness and touch with customers. Some of the agencies that pioneered sports marketing include the “Mark McCormack’s International Management Group” (IMG), Donald Dell’s Proserv and the Millsport LLC among others. The above organizations developed during the 1970s and were concerned with athlete management and event organization as part of a bigger vision to popularize sports through television and negotiating for specific corporate sponsorships. Golf and tennis pioneered the sports marketing industry.

By the year 1984, considerable commercial achievement and corporate recognition had developed around sports marketing during Summer Games in Los Angeles. During this spectacular event, corporate sponsorship came from companies such as McDonald’s and Coca-Cola. For instance, Coca-Cola which was the official sponsor of the tournament spent a whopping thirty million dollars in organizing the activities. Subsequent sports tournaments in the world also received significant sponsorship from different companies setting precedence that was not only accepted by the International Olympic Committee but other organizations in the world. Internalization of sports marketing led to a significant portion of marketing budgets of interested companies being devoted to the industry. Firms and agencies which represented athletes also diversified into representing corporate companies alongside advertising and public relations organizations (Riley& Kahle, 2004). There are corporate sponsors that set apart sports marketing departments in their organizations while others delegated that role to reputable advertising agencies such as the DMB& B and Leo Burnett. Sports marketing has therefore developed into a lucrative industry worth millions of dollars in different parts of the world. In Jamaica, for instance, the sports industry is between US$180 billion and US$250 billion which entail advertising, athlete endorsement, event organization, multimedia publications and sales of tickets.

Public relations

Soccer is one of the sports which have attracted significant publicity, advertising and marketing. English, Spanish, French, Italian and German leagues enjoy a fanatic following due to sustainable media publicity and sports marketing. Professional footballers are hired by the respective teams in the soccer leagues from all over the world. Apart from the contribution that football fans make towards the industry, corporate sponsors such as Coca-Cola have supported the industry in both national and international competitions. The marketing value for soccer supersedes other sports by far partly due to the popularity of the game but also the support extended from corporate sponsors. Coca-Cola Company supports community-based activities that entrench their publicity into the local cultures. Cross-cultural interaction is developed through popular programs such as sponsorship of sports tournaments in soccer and acquisition of naming rights for strategic sports facilities for instance soccer stadiums in South Africa. The company, therefore, manages the recreational facilities in addition to the promotion of talents among young people in exchange for publicity of its quality products. The company’s trademarks are therefore effectively and legally registered with the foreign market destinations through cultural integration.

7P’s in Sports marketing

According to Brooks (2010, P.11), a seven P formula applied in designing effective marketing strategies in any business organization is also adopted in sports marketing. The seven Ps are “product, price, promotion, place, packaging, positioning and people.” The seven provide the benchmark for continuous evaluation of markets and customers’ needs in product development and adaptability in different market environments. Products are promoted through advertising and other marketing interventions meant to create their market awareness. Pricing depends on the competitive nature of product endorsement taking into account the number of companies involved and the number of sports stars in question. Televised commercials target the audience accustomed to sports such as golf, soccer and athletics, particularly the major tournaments. Packaging of products ensures that the names and images of celebrities are engraved on the outside of the packaging materials increasing their visibility to the public.

Product endorsement

This refers to testimonials meant to approve a product by people who are considered to be celebrities in society (Davis, 2008). Companies advertise their products using statements such as “as used by the fastest man in the world or as swift as this or that sportsman”. Product endorsement is exhibited on product packaging and in promotions where customers can view them. Customers are seduced to buy a product that has been endorsed by a prominent figure in society as though through the purchase of the esteemed item, the customer becomes directly affiliated to the celebrity who endorsed it. Sports marketing initiatives are enriched with product endorsements from various sports stars in soccer, golf, tennis and athletics. A substantial amount of money is invested in product endorsement strategies through contracts. Sports stars sign the contracts for product endorsements on the basis that the companies involved shall compensate them appropriately. Most of these sports stars are known to donate proceeds from product endorsement in charities affiliated with them in order to further improve their public image in society. Contracts allow sports stars to use the products they have endorsed anywhere for its promotion. The contracts may also restrict the sports stars from using products from competitors of the concerned.

Product endorsement becomes an effective marketing strategy for companies to advertise their products to all consumers affiliated to the sports stars (Siciliano, Walker& Covell, 2007). Products endorsed by these celebrities may not necessarily be good but the strategy lays in the public relations connections that link the product with consumers with fame. The quality of a product is independent of the prominent personalities who have endorsed it. Product endorsement is therefore part of an extensive marketing strategy for a company. Endorsements are either written or verbally expressed. Written testimonials from previous consumers of a product serve to promote it through information related to how the product improved the quality of their lives. The written testimonies are often stamped on product packaging and in strategic places where people can view them easily. Names of sports stars participating in product endorsements could be engraved on the specific product packaging for a visual connection with consumers and their fans.

Soccer players such as Christiano Ronaldo, Kaka and David Beckham have endorsed products from various multinational companies. David Beckham for instance is the most famous football celebrity. He is equally married to another musical celebrity, Victorian Adams. The two celebrities together have endorsed products from a wide range of businesses which include fashion design, health and fitness, perfume and cosmetics and recreation companies (Westerbeek, Quick& Shilbury, 1998). An after-shave exists with a product name “David Beckham Instinct” as a result of his product endorsement contract. The couple has signed lucrative contracts worth millions of dollars, especially in the fashion and cosmetics industry. David Beckham also appears on covers of numerous magazines in addition to being a major sports subject on search engines such as Google. Beckham’s move to LA Galaxy in the United States increased his fame and business opportunities in product endorsement. The transfer was worth millions of dollars and attracted widespread media publicity. Galaxy jersey engraved the name of Beckham on the back as well. The wife, Victoria was treated to several television talk shows such as the NBC TV show “Victoria Beckham: Coming to America”. The endorsement deal with Pepsi Company endured ten years.

According to Ask search engine, David Beckham was ranked the third most searched celebrity of the last decade in Britain. David Beckham has also endorsed charity organizations such as the UNICEF where he served as the “Goodwill Ambassador for their sports development program”. In the recent past, he has supported charity organizations such as “Unite for children”, “Unite against AIDS” and “Malaria no more”. Another football star, Christian Ronaldo from Portugal has publicly acknowledged and illustrated product endorsement of the mouth guard. He innocently but deliberately slipped out the mouthguard during a match with Atletico de Madrid. The mouth guard is a sophisticated performance booster that is believed to support the body muscles of the Portuguese star when playing soccer. The mouth guard being exhibited by C. Ronaldo is meant to protect his pearl white teeth against mechanical pressure on the pitch by balancing his body moving against his jaw-bone strength (McDonald &Milne, 1999). The product which has been in the market for about one year received significant public attention after C. Ronaldo slipped it outside during the said match. The soccer star is believed to benefit from the specially designed mouthguard which “aligns the jaw bone, head, brain and thorax towards equal distribution of energy across all the body muscles” attributed to the powerful moves exhibited by the soccer celebrity on the football pitch.

Through this product endorsement, the mouth guard has been adopted by other soccer players in Italy, Japan and the United States among other countries. Tiger Woods, an accomplished golfer has also used the mouth guard further increasing its endorsement. More sportsmen and women are therefore likely to use the mouth guard in order to catch up with fellow stars in the field and on track irrespective of the condition of their teeth. The clothing and fashion industry has received significant support from sports celebrities in the world. Consumers, amateur athletes and fans continue to be associated with T-shirts, jackets, jerseys and other sports apparel endorsed by their sports celebrities. It appears cool and fashionable to wear designs affiliated with sports stars. Nike and Reebok which are major companies selling footwear have sought product endorsement from sports stars in order to establish a competitive advantage in the market thereby reviving their incomes (Althouse & Brooks,). Other companies such as Adidas, Champion, Converse, Puma and Wilson have introduced sports apparel in their product range in order to take advantage of the vibrant sports marketing industry. Other product lines associated with sports include watches, cars, eyewear and accessories with big endorsements from athletes and stars involved in soccer, golf, tennis and boxing.

Sports marketing has therefore established as the most profitable market segment in the world. Consumers are thus seduced to buy products endorsed by these superstars in sports with the understanding that purchasing the items shall make them look like Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods or David Beckham. Nike is one of the companies which have grown with the rise in sports marketing. Tiger wood’s splendid performance in golf has attracted numerous fans around his name. Consequently, Nike and other companies whose products are endorsed by Tiger Woods have benefitted from such sustainable and global campaigns. As a result of increased sales, companies pay huge amounts of money to their celebrity athletes and other sports stars. Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan have enabled Nike to remain the number one apparel and footwear company as a result of their remarkable sports careers. The allegiance of golf and basketball fans to products endorsed by the superstars has enabled the company to create an unrivaled leading position in the market. The “athlete’s Air Jordan footwear” endorsed by Michael Jordan brought Nike more than $400 million in sales cutting an enviable niche for the brand in the market. Other sports stars were subsequently brought on board in support of the brand such as baseball’s Derek Jeter and boxing’ s Roy Jones Jr.

Serena and Venus Williams have equally propelled sales in companies whose products they endorsed through their spectacular career in tennis. William’s sisters have also inspired other youths interested in a rewarding sports career in the world. Serena William’s endorsement of Puma products increased the company’s sales output through her spectacular Wimbledon performance (Lipsyte, 2008). On the other hand, Venus Williams supported Reebok’s products line through her appearances on DMX commercials. When athletes and sports stars endorse a company’s product line, the credibility of the business is enhanced coupled with sustainable support from their fanatical spectators. The image that brands obtain from the endorsement augments marketing strategies towards the realization of increased revenue. However, not every brand/product endorsement is lucrative since the athletes’ reputation also impacts the product authenticity and credibility in the market. In 2003, a famous basketball star, Kobe Bryant lost his reputation after being accused of sexually molesting a nineteen-year-old worker in a hotel he was putting up in. The civil case that followed severely tarnished his reputation causing him to lose lucrative endorsements with an assortment of companies including the prestigious McDonald’s Ferrero contract.

The performance of the sports’ stars equally fluctuates on the pitch and track as well which demands that product endorsement contracts are reviewed depending on their celebrity status and duration of fame (Field, 2001). The impact of the negative behavior of a famous sports celebrity on a brand could be severe if most of his/her fans are dissuaded from the person. Customers could actually be discouraged from a product whose packaging reminds them of a sports star accused of infidelity such as Tiger Woods if reputation is not restored early enough. Young people appreciate sports stars as their role models thereby emulating their sportswear and accessories. Product lines that are endorsed by the world’s leading sports stars should therefore match universal quality standards in order to attract their continued support and consumers interested in the initiative. Individual and team performance of the respective players in different sports matters in their career and celebrity status acquisition in society. However, some players exhibit outstanding talent which attracts much media attention and popularity from their fans. Their counterparts in sports also get attracted to their star colleagues. The general public is significantly motivated towards sports and exercise for fitness as a result of the successful careers of their sports celebrities. The general public is ever embracing sports for professional or recreational purposes using sports celebrities as role models. Companies are equally inspired to produce more sports apparel and related products in order to meet clients’ expectations. Sports marketing and product endorsement have grown into vibrant industries with huge returns on investment causing more players to join. Several newer companies have joined the sports apparel industry with the aim of reaping huge profits. This has adjusted the bargaining power for sports stars interested in product endorsement and sports marketing. The compensation price for involvement in product endorsement keeps increasing since sportsmen/women receive huge salaries from their sports careers apart from sports marketing interventions.

Advertising is the means of communicating the details of particular products and services to consumers with the purpose of convincing them to make purchases. It is often accompanied by promotional material meant to lure potential customers to buy the products. In order to be successful in their marketing initiatives including advertising, businesses target the psychological needs of individuals. Commercial advertising, therefore, takes advantage of the available technologies in the media to create an artificial image in the minds of potential buyers through the repetition of their trademark products (Milne& McDonald, 2008). Since the information about these brands keeps recurring in the minds of consumers, their images stick in their minds for a long period of time. Some of the media applied in advertising campaigns include newspapers, television, radio, billboards, magazines and the internet. However, the desperation to sell their products and services often results in business companies giving false information to potential customers in order to convince them to buy something they do not need. Advertising is normally an expensive venture that requires large amounts of money to pay for the media facilities, personalities and agencies involved in the whole process. The underlying reason for all these ventures is to promote the specific identity of their products and services, increase their sales as well as create the necessary awareness about their commodities in the market. In case there are remarkable changes with particular products, then advertising ensures that they are communicated to consumers immediately through advertising.

According to Watt, (2003 P.18), advertising enables businesses to maintain a competitive advantage over similar businesses by establishing the required niche in the market for their products. Companies have particularly noted that people’s emotions drive their day-to-day activities including important life decisions that they make. An effective advertising initiative should therefore seek to develop a picture in the minds of potential buyers with a similar image created by the advertisers. As such, a successful advert should be able to initiate emotional feedbacks from its viewers. Companies that manufacture cigarettes utilize these principles in order to convince smokers that their habit is actually not harmful. It presents an image of someone who is relaxed and free from stress and enjoying a lot of pleasure from smoking. Even though cigarettes are proven cancer agents which can cause lifestyle diseases such as cancer, the advert meant to promote and encourage smokers to buy the harmful substances incorporates celebrities on board to lure teenagers into the habit. It is always important that the attached labels of commodities contain information about the facts concerning the use of such substances to the human body.

Celebrity advertising particularly targets audiences such as the youth who are always motivated by such renowned personalities (McCarthy& Ferrand, 2008). Teenagers who are equally still growing up do not possess a mature emotional or psychological mind hence they easily get enticed by the colorful presentation of the adverts. They actually associate with the celebrity images attached to media personalities and hence buy the images that are created in their minds from such adverts. In the process of interacting with the picture created from the advert, they develop a long-lasting imagination in their minds about the products being advertised by the celebrity icons. Teenagers are ever exposed to violent and sexy advertisements in their electronic and print media which then develop images in their minds about what seems to be practical in the real world. However, most of these appearances are not factual but empty fallacies. Since musicians, politicians as well as other media celebrities are often contracted to promote brands through the media, members of the society viewing them easily become associated with their content including the products being advertised. The image actually appears more real than the product in the process of creating awareness of the commodities. Since the people brought on board are already known in society, people tend to accept the products and services which they promote with ease.

Unfortunately, when the products are being advertised alongside the personality of individuals considered to be successful and high achievers in the community, a risk arises where the lifestyles of these people as well are equally emulated (Kimball& Lussier, 2004). For instance, commercial advertising of cigarettes and beer ignore in most circumstances, the health hazards associated with dependence on the substances. The marketing initiatives in this case override the need to warn the public about negative consequences attached to prolonged use of such harmful molecules. The crucial message which seeks to warn the youths about the dangers of smoking, in general, comes shortly at the end of a thrilling advertisement. Celebrities successfully achieve that goal. Teenagers in their adolescence find themselves in a difficult position to make the right choices in the prevailing confusion brought about by advertisements. As much as terms and conditions shall always apply in the process of making such advertisements, the emphasis put on marketing products and thus increasing sales is often stretched too far. Human behavior especially psychological development is exploited by commercial advertisements in order to ensure that some critical feelings and emotions associated with a particular age group and gender convert the attention of people images attached to fascinating products.

Advertising and HIV/AIDS research is another popular cause that is often exploited during commercial advertising. In the process of encouraging behavior change in order to reduce HIV/AIDS prevalence, advertising companies continue to exploit the opportunity to promote related products such as drugs, condoms as well as other reproductive health materials. Organizations that specialize in charity equally utilize the opportunity to source financial assistance especially for needy cases linked to the pandemic. This includes the cause to help children who have been orphaned as a result of deaths associated with HIV/AIDS and related opportunistic infections. Human beings have got the inborn characteristic of empathy and sympathy which then drive them to respond to such humanitarian experiences. As such, people donate money to support the cause as much as they are interested in buying particular products. There is also the concept of repetition in advertising which is meant to create a familiar memory in the minds of the consumers for a long period of time enough to establish the brands in the market. This is often linked to some popular causes such as environmental conservation initiatives. The images created in the minds of people about what could happen in case of severe environmental degradation lead to their attention being directed to the whole advertisement being done on an associated product (Oelkers& Kaser, 2007).

Images such as severe droughts leading to food insecurity in countries that rely on rain-based agriculture with starving populations elicit feelings of empathy in the viewers. As a result, they are attracted to buy products being advertised alongside the environmental awareness initiatives. They are made to believe that by purchasing goods from the companies making those adverts, they are supporting a noble cause to reduce desertification and help the starving populations. The same charitable ventures inspire people to buy certain commodities with the understanding that they are supporting sick people in hospitals or teenagers struggling with drug or substance abuse. Some diseases are terminal in the sense that they could lead to death in addition to the stigma associated with prolonged suffering. In order to express some level of solidarity and empathy, concerned parties become trapped by creative advertisements meant to attract the attention of individuals as well as ignite their imaginations towards the whole advertisement for some time. The eventual result is that products and services sell more than the cause at hand. These are business organizations that are keen to make profits at all costs. They even employ psychologists and public relations experts in order to strategize on current humanitarian trends which could supplement their marketing initiatives (Masterman, 2004).

People get to the reason, think, as well as feel with the emotive situations crafted to elicit emotions and images in their minds about the adverts. Teenagers are ever experiencing difficulties during their growth and development. These are young people who are keen to discover themselves as well as pursue their dreams in life. Most of them are in a school where they experience a lot of peer pressure as well as misleading information about what is right and acceptable to them(Carter, 1996). They are always under pressure to succeed in their careers from their parents as well as the society which does not understand them due to the generation gaps that exist. Consequently, teenagers find thrilling pleasures from the mass media and their peers. Unfortunately, some of them lack role models whom they seriously admire except for celebrities with luxurious lifestyles. These same celebrities are often exploited by advertising companies in their quest to take advantage of them in order to capture the youth market. Teenagers often get attracted to them but instead of emulation of positive traits, they end up making blanket conclusions about their behavior development. This is because of the confusion about what appears right in the public limelight and that which is morally acceptable. The mind of the consumer is therefore exposed to different manipulations with the underlying agenda being the desperate desire to make profits by business companies (Esgate& Lieberman, 2002).

Advertisements also take advantage of sexual images and other popular causes associated with the fashion and modeling industry to capture the attention of buyers. A sexy advert could comprise of nude photos of women or otherwise pictures of their images when almost naked (Hay, 2005). The fashion industry-particular exploits this type of advertising since people get attracted easily to what is being displayed. This is because of the emotive desires that follow such captivating images. As a matter of fact, the naked women or those photos of women who have exposed parts of their bodies especially target the youths and teenagers. This is because they are sexually very active and the mere sight of such naked pictures makes sense in their lives. They quickly associate with them as well as the products being promoted. It becomes cool for them to buy an item that would revive their sexual vitality as well as their beauty. As such, beauty models are employed to advertise products on television in order to attract a large audience. The attention of the audience is automatically guaranteed and the subsequent sale of the products as well. The moral connotations of displaying such images are a subject of debate in many circles. It could actually lead to the degradation of moral standards in society since the images stick in the minds for a longer time than for the period the advert is being done. Money, therefore, is the sole motivation for those engaging in such business as well as the participants of the exercise (Nufer, Chadwick& Buhler, 2009). Advertising, therefore, incorporates popular causes to market and sell their products to a large audience with the aim of making more profits.

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