Clash of the Titans

Today’s guest post features an infographic from Sophia Barber via Sports-Management-Degrees.com, a leading online platform of education concerning business attributes of sports. The Sport Management degree guides and gives information to build a career in the field of sports industry and to achieve the unique positions within all sectors, including professional sports organizations, college athletics as well as in recreation management field.

For years, ESPN has enjoyed a stranglehold on the market as the dominant sports broadcasting company.  Fox Sports 1 aims to change that.  For an inside look at the competition facing Fox, please view the infographic pasted below (click here to see a full size image).  It will be interesting to see how it all plays out!  The spirit of competition is, after all, why they play the games… :)

Student Logo Contest – Championship Round!

In our latest sports marketing competition, we asked students at our member schools to redesign their school athletics logo as part of a hypothetical rebranding / brand extension effort. Here are the two designs that have advanced to the championship round and we are now voting to see will be crowned the best logo re-design.  Voting ends on Thursday evening at 5:00 PM Pacific Time.

The winning student will receive a prize consistent with his or her ideal area of study and career goals (in other words an art student will receive something different from a marketing student…we will be offering the winner a selection of prizes to choose from but it will be a significant prize!) The TOP THREE designs will win a t-shirt featuring their design AND SCC will help to coordinate an interview, skype call, google hangout, phone call, job shadow or something along those lines with a sports or entertainment property in their local area in their ideal field of study so please be ready to vote…there is a lot on the line for our participants!

PLEASE VOTE HERE:  http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.448201648597316.1073741836.112852445465573&type=1

Student Logo Contest – The Elite Eight

In our latest sports marketing competition, we asked students at our member schools to redesign their school athletics logo as part of a hypothetical rebranding / brand extension effort. Here are the “elite eight” finalists and we are now voting to see which four students and their designs will be advancing to the Final Four.  Voting ends on Thursday evening.

The winning student will receive a prize consistent with his or her ideal area of study and career goals (in other words an art student will receive something different from a marketing student…we will be offering the winner a selection of prizes to choose from but it will be a significant prize!) The TOP THREE designs will win a t-shirt featuring their design AND SCC will help to coordinate an interview, skype call, google hangout, phone call, job shadow or something along those lines with a sports or entertainment property in their local area in their ideal field of study so please be ready to vote…there is a lot on the line for our participants!

PLEASE VOTE HERE:  http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.442386749178806.1073741833.112852445465573&type=1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many thanks also to Henry Ammann at Tigard High School in Oregon for lending his creative expertise to the project!

Sneaker Wars & the NCAA Tournament

Today’s post comes courtesy of Griffin Booth, Sports Career Consulting’s blog manager.  CONGRATS again to Griffin for being accepted into Major League Soccer’s sales academy.  I know you will do very well and would like to wish you the best as you continue to pursue your dream job!

Nike once again headlined this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament as the leading outfitter of participating teams. Nike and its affiliated brands sponsored 52 of the 68 teams in the field, equaling the same number as last year’s tourney. The breakdown shows that 44 teams wear Nike jerseys, while 5 schools represent Jordan. In shoes, 47 schools wear Nike, while 5 schools rock the Jordan Brand. Colorado State, Southern, and Western Kentucky are the three schools that wear Nike shoes, but represent Russell as the sponsor in uniform. In terms of the schools represented by Jordan (North Carolina, Marquette, Georgetown, California, and Wichita State), the brand got some nice exposure with all but one of their teams advancing to the field of 32, unfortunately their top seeded team (Georgetown) suffered one of the biggest upsets of the tournament.

13 schools in this year’s tournament represented Adidas. Adidas took a unique approach in terms of uniform style as well, which has drawn a lot of attention. This year, Adidas bucked the traditional approach to uniform design by creating jerseys with not only sleeves, but also with camouflage-patterned shorts and extremely bright color jerseys. The AdiZero jerseys have received a lot of negative national attention so far, and it will be interesting to see if they are talked about throughout the tournament.

Under Armour is a brand that has been trying to “spread its wings” into other categories, recently working to make a play for a slice of market share in the basketball market. Schools like  Maryland, Texas Tech, and Utah are examples of big time program football schools that are sponsored by Under Armor. However, in this year’s tournament, Under Armor represents only La Salle, South Dakota State, and Temple.  However, La Salle has become one of this year’s “cinderella” teams, providing a nice boost in exposure for the UA brand while Temple performed admirably pulling out a first round upset and giving the #1 seed Indiana a scare in the field of the 32, nearly advancing to the sweet sixteen.

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Social Media Ghost Town: Google Plus

Today’s post comes courtesy of Griffin Booth, Sports Career Consulting’s blog manager and guest blogger.

Last summer’s much anticipated released of Google + introduced another social media platform to the masses. According to ZDnet, G+ amassed 5 million users within the first month after launch. While G+ does not yet compare to the 1 billion users on Facebook and 500 million users on Twitter, the platform does boast 400 million registered users (as of November 2012), making it the 4th largest social network in the world (these statistics derived from expanded ramblings). This helps support the fact that G+ still maintains a significant number of global users and offers another great opportunity for sports brands to connect with fans.

Google has, for the most part, been a leader in innovation. With “Project Glass” and a driver-less car project on the horizon, it’s a safe bet that Google’s commitment to creating an unparalleled user experience is unwavering. That commitment only reinforces the untapped potential of their social networking platforms. To underscore this point, consider the unique features G+ offers, such as the “hangout” feature, a tool enabling multiple users to live video chat, creating a new and unique way for face-to-face communication to occur. From a sports business perspective, what better way for teams to promote their athletes and connect with fans or for athletes to promote brands in which they represent?  G+ also offers an easy for news and updates to be posted as well so that fans no longer need to look up a “page” in order to get their information about favorite teams or athletes. Considering the potential of G+ to help brands connect with fans, how have those in the sports industry integrated G+ with their overall digital strategies?

Brands:

A recent post on Forbes online highlights the most profitable brands in the sports market. Heavyweight Nike reigns above the competition and has long been a leader in the digital space, but has been largely dismissive of G+. Nike currently stands at +337,660, with 338,243 in their circle. Considering the millions of consumers that consider themselves fans of the swoosh, Nike has done little via G+. The last posted was in May of 2012, ironically promoting Nike Golf using the face of one of their top athletes in Tiger Woods. Nike’s rival, Adidas, has a smaller presence with +9,317 and 7,328 in their circle. While Adidas doesn’t post to G+ every day, they have frequently promoted commercials and encouraged fan interaction. In addition to commercials, Adidas has posted a ton of content, including interviews with sponsors, and product release dates. Another Nike competitor, Under Armour, is also active on their G+ page, but has yet to reach a wide audience. Under Armour currently stands at a +487 with only 184 fans in their circle. While this is relatively low, Under Armour continues to take the time to provide promotional content within their page, with the hope that more consumers will take note. On the flip side, Gatorade, another premier sports brand, has not posted to their G+ page since June. Subsequently, they currently sit at +695.

Meanwhile, in the Forbes list of most valuable sports brands, ESPN ranked second behind Nike. While they are more than just an apparel industry, ESPN is highly active within G+. Their page caters an amazing 2,214,671 followers with a +2,243,674. ESPN doesn’t let their fan base down, consistently posting on their page every single day. ESPN not only posts highlights on their page, but also creates points of fan engagement through polls and hangouts, while promoting commercials as well. They are a leading example of how using G+ can be an extremely valuable medium for connecting with and engaging fans online.

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Olympic Sponsors Facing Criticism…

At what point does sponsorship of a mega-event like the Olympic Games yield diminishing returns if the brand’s image receives a significant amount of negative publicity? 

If you have tuned in to watch the Games within the past four years, you have likely seen (or heard) the slogan “Visa: The Only Card Accepted at the 20XX Olympic Games” being advertised in one form or another.  Visa has long been one of the biggest supporters of the Games (since 1986) and, as part of their relationship with the organizing committee as a sponsor, is the exclusive credit card of the Olympic Games.

As such, anyone without a Visa might find themselves in a bit of a bind when it comes to making an Olympic purchase.  The official ticketing website of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games states “In recognition of Visa’s longstanding support of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, only Visa (debit, credit and prepaid) can be used to purchase tickets.”  In other words, if fans want tickets to see the beach volleyball competition, they will need a Visa to make the purchase.  Same goes for anyone buying a t-shirt to commemorate their experience at the Games.  And anyone thinking they can circumvent the system by visiting an ATM and paying with cash better think again because if their debit card does not feature a Visa logo, they’ll be hit with a hefty ”convenience” charge.  Visa will have a near-monopoly on ATMs at event facilities.

Granted, organizers need to create value for sponsors paying millions in sponsorship fees to justify the spend, but one has to wonder if consumers become turned off to the brand as a result of the exclusivity (for more perspective on Visa’s exclusive deal and how it impacts consumers in London, check out this blog post from b2bmarketing.net.)  Visa isn’t the only one generating headlines for something other than their Olympic loyalty either.  McDonald’s and Coca-Cola, two long-standing partners of the Olympic Games (who have spent billions over the years supporting the event and even waived their right to using the Games as a tax exemption) have received a lot of criticism from advocates of healthier eating.  It will be interesting to see how everything plays out following the Games from a publicity perspective.  Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, hasn’t exactly rushed to the side of two of the Games top sponsors either, suggesting there had been a “question mark” hanging over aligning with them for the London Games.  Of course, Rogge pulled a 180 the day after making the statement, saying he’s “proud to be associated with them.”

It remains to be seen if any of these brands will pull back on their support, but if the criticism becomes widespread and the risk of damaging the brand becomes real, well, you never know…

NFL Draft Marketing

You have to give credit to ESPN and the NFL.  A little more than thirty years ago (the original plan to broadcast the draft was hatched in Bristol back in 1980), most people thought televising the draft was a crazy idea.  Critics suggested the draft was unwatchable, especially as an all-day event.  Even those who supported the idea did so with little confidence.  Fast forward to today.  This year, ESPN will spend three days covering the draft, much of it during prime time. The NFL Network will also be broadcasting the event live.  The NFL Network set a draft viewership record last year, averaging nearly 570,000 viewers for its three-day coverage while ESPN averaged nearly 3 million viewers during the same span, according to the Sports Business Journal.  But here’s the thing…the NFL and ESPN are no longer the only brands looking to cash in.

Given the competitive nature of the shoe and apparel business, the number of fans tuning in for the draft provides an excellent platform for footwear and apparel companies like Nike, Adidas, Reebok and Under Armour to showcase their brands.  Notably absent this year, however, will be the Reebok logo on the hats worn by players as they take the stage when their names have been called.  Reebok’s deal with the NFL recently expired and New Era becomes the official on-field cap for the league.  New Era hasn’t wasted any time leveraging the partnership with the league, recently rolling out newly designed draft day caps on the company Facebook page.

Meanwhile, Nike will take over the exclusive uniform rights.  The news of tweaks to uniform designs and fabric technology came with much fanfare, and the company’s “reveal” event created a lot of chatter.  However, the brand announced at the event that new jerseys would not be available for purchase until draft day.  Nobody generates buzz and manufactures demand like the ever opportunistic swoosh.

Never one to stand idly by, long-time Nike rival adidas invested in a lucrative endorsement deal with this year’s Heisman Trophy winner, Robert Griffin III.  RG3, as he’s also known, is expected to go second overall in the draft to the Washington Redskins (the Indianapolis Colts have reportedly already told Andrew Luck they plan to select him with the number one pick).  You can bet adidas will be doing all they can throughout the draft to maximize the brand’s exposure via their relationship with the popular QB and that of Ryan Tannehill (from Texas A&M), who adidas also recently signed and is expected by many to be the third quarterback selected.  A commercial featuring RG3 is already posted on YouTube…expect to see it many times during draft coverage.

Under Armour, recognizing the potential challenges in gaining prominent exposure for the brand during the draft, focused its efforts to gain consumer attention by building buzz at the NFL combine.  To do so, the brand developed an extensive social media campaign to support its sponsorship of the event.  That strategy allowed the Maryland-based company to effectively promote the brand without getting lost in the draft-day hype of Nike’s new uniforms or the adidas relationship with RG3.

Coverage of the 2012 NFL Draft begins on Thursday, April 26th at 8:00 ET on ESPN and on the NFL Network (Verizon Wireless users will also be able to tune in on their mobile device).

Side note:  Click here to see footage of the 1981 NFL Draft on YouTube…it really is amazing to see how far the event has come.

Around the Horn: April 9th

A few newsworthy items relating to the Masters Sunday from a sports business perspective:

* ESPN Radio reported that Bubba Watson earned just over $5,000 per golf shot for the tournament for a total of $1.44 million

* Despite a dramatic playoff finish, television ratings for this year’s Masters suffered a significant drop off, falling 22% from last year’s tournament.

* Sunday’s win helped propel Bubba’s personal brand, particularly from a social media perspective as the number of people following Watson shot up nearly 60% less than 24 hours after Sunday’s victory. (via @DarrenRovell on Twitter)

* According to a story that appeared online today at forbes.com, Watson’s N-Score (measures a sports figure’s overall endorsement potential based on appeal and awareness) suffers low awareness scores, but his appeal scores are “off the charts” (68% of respondents said they like Watson while 52% like Phil Mickelson)…obviously winning the Masters will give Bubba a very significant bump in awareness scores, meaning he now stands to gain much more than the $1.44 million in prize money thanks to the huge victory on one of golf’s grand stages.

* Many attribute the drop in ratings to the fact that Tiger Woods was not a threat to win…according forbes.com story, just 17% of respondents said they like Tiger, a testament to how polarizing Woods remains.

* Watson’s current golf-related endorsement deals?  Clubs (Ping), balls (Titleist), shoes (Footjoy), socks (Kentwool)…one would assume the asking price might increase at next round of negotiations.

Rare is the athlete who manages to land an endorsement deal for a non-sports performance product, but Robert Griffin III is certainly not the average QB prospect.  It was announced today that RG3 signed a deal with Castrol, news that certainly speaks to his potential both on and off the field.

There is a lot of excitement surrounding tonight’s debut of Japanese pitching sensation Yu Darvish.  How much excitement?  According to the analysts at Front Row Analytics, just wearing a Nike glove and cleats will provide Nike with over $28,000 in exposure on Fox Sports Southwest’s broadcast of tonight’s game. (via @FRAnalytics on Twitter)

Around the Horn: March 28th

Anyone notice during the weekend March Madness telecasts that the NCAA is really pushing their social media platforms?  They even featured prominent courtside signage during games directing fans to visit the NCAA website (www.ncaa.org/socialmedia).  The page provides a portal to their Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Foursquare pages. At first glance, it seems they could have done more with the page.  One glaring omission was the presence of a link to a Pinterest page.  Given the obvious emphasis on driving fans to visit NCAA social platforms, it seems capitalizing on the tournament hype would provide the ideal forum for the launch of a branded Pinterest effort.

Quick observation:  This year’s Final Four pits two adidas teams (Louisville, Kansas) against two Nike schools (Kentucky, Ohio State)…however, the early Vegas odds suggest it will be an all Nike final.

WOW.  Rick Pitino is now a masterful 10-0 in Sweet 16 games…guess that’s why they pay him the big bucks (he made $7.5 million last year).

From the Twitterverse (via @darrenrovell): “Nike bought Converse for about $300 million in 2003. Nike CFO Don Blair just said it is now a $2.5 billion global brand.”  Obviously more to the brand these days than just Chuck Taylors…

Stat of the Week (via Reuters news service):  UPS expects to handle 30 million items (from equipment & drug samples to beds for athletes’ village) for London Games…guess you could say their investment as a sponsor of the 2012 Olympics is already paying dividends.

According to a story published on Forbes.com today, if the Los Angeles Dodgers sale goes through (as it is expected to do), Frank McCourt will be the most financially successful Major League Baseball team owner in league history.  Perhaps Mr. McCourt knew what he was doing all along…

Around the Horn: March 20th

Anyone else notice the product placement at Peyton Manning‘s introductory press conference today?  Manning, who endorses Gatorade, managed to carefully place an orange bottle of Gatorade (Broncos‘ team color) on the corner of an adjacent table throughout the press conference, no doubt a gesture appreciated by the brand (tip of that hat to Katelyn Sellers for pointing that out)…

Consider this:  If Peyton would have signed with Miami, the Dolphins would have sold a LOT of tickets.  Instead, the secondary ticket market comes out as a big winner because the Broncos, thanks to a rabid fan base, have limited ticket inventory available for sale.

Two months ago a poll conducted by SportsBusinessDaily revealed  Peyton Manning as the NFL’s third most marketable quarterback.  Tim Tebow was fifth. One can only wonder how Manning’s decision to sign with Denver, leaving Tebow’s fate unclear, might shift those results.  In the end, Manning’s decision deals a crushing blow to brands like Jockey who have a vested interest in Tebow as a product endorser.

Two quick observations on the NCAA Tournament:

I’m not sure which NCAA men’s basketball fan base travels best, but I’d have to guess the Kansas Jayhawks and Kentucky Wildcats are at the top of that list.

There is definitely no shortage of NCAA branding during telecasts: the logo is prominently featured on jerseys, several places on the court, game balls, consistent on-screen graphics, courtside signage, seat backs on team benches, the baskets…even the towels players use on the bench…