SportsBiz Madness 2020: Case Study Tournament Champions!

Thanks to our Judges!

An extra special thanks to Alex Dobson at Audible Design, an ad agency in Portland, for helping evaluate the championship round of our case study tournament.  Leaning on the expertise of industry veterans with a long track record of success to evaluate this round of entries was invaluable.  Alex’s feedback (read the post below for more) provides fantastic context for not only the finalists, but also the students and teachers following along at home.

Great stuff, thanks Alex!

Championship Round Recap

After receiving over 60 entries for Sports Career Consulting’s inaugural “SportsBiz Madness” high school case study competition, we finally crown a champion…

The case we distributed for the championship round presented students with a challenge facing sports marketing professionals at leagues with aging fan bases.  The two finalists were tasked with developing marketing strategies for the PGA Tour to help them connect with a younger audience, helping to grow the popularity of the sport and the league.  We were excited to see what our championship teams came up with and they did not disappoint!

Both submissions were very well done and we had a lot of fun reviewing each of them. We felt like there was a lot of thought and creativity put into each, and were impressed with the level of research that went into each submission. It is always a tough decision to decide on a winner, and the finalists certainly made it difficult to determine a champ…

Tappan Zee HS (New York):

Leading off the competition, we dove into the proposal from Tappan Zee High School. HUGE props to Jennifer who advanced to the final round of this competition without a teammate as she became the first individual student to compete in the championship round.

She put a ton of research into this case study, analyzing the demographics of the PGA’s existing fan base along with offering a sound recap of consumer behaviors that would present opportunities for the Tour to grow. Overall, a sound situational analysis.

Jennifer also presented a number of excellent ideas, creative and fun, that would most certainly create ways for PGA marketers to reach a younger demo. Some highlights:

  • A “Tee-Off” event that kicks the tour season off to create excitement, supported by a marketing campaign that features past and present PGA stars
  • Great cross-promotion idea with a concert series connected to tour events
  • Recognizing the shorter attention span of younger fans, brilliant concept to introduce a series of video shorts, selecting Brooks Koepka as the spokesperson for the campaign seems like a good, natural fit as well
  • Good idea to introduce a “sampling” concept…you are right, young fans that haven’t played or watched golf won’t know if they like it until they participate in some capacity so we liked the idea of incentivizing them with giveaway promos
  • Overall, loved the content marketing strategy – YouTube, video shorts, “showdowns” etc, fans of other sports would be intruigued to see Ray Allen play Steph Curry in a golf challenge, so you’re attracting interest from fans of other sports and introducing them to the product
  • TikTok challenge…perfect opportunity to reach younger fans
  • Great stat referenced in Jennifer’s case study response, 40% of millennial golfers are women, so we loved the idea of creating a special line of merchandise targeting that consumer group…also thought the “Moonshot” (golf was one of only two sports played on the moon) limited-edition merchandise was a fun idea!

No surprise, but Tappan Zee was well represented in the final round of this competition, as they have been all tournament. Fantastic job Jennifer, you have a very bright future regardless of which career path you choose! Congratulations on all your success in this competition and best of luck down the road.

Pinelands Regional High School (New Jersey):

Tappan Zee faced a formidable opponent in this year’s finals, facing a Pinelands Regional school who won this competition just two years ago. Not surprisingly, Kathy Bennett’s students produced another spectacular case study response in this round.

We limited the response to the final case study to just two pages, but WOW, Pinelands Regional students managed to cram a lot of fantastic ideas (supported by detailed market research and analysis) into their response.

Some highlights:

  • Great SWOT analysis, recognizing not only the challenge but also the opportunity in front of the PGA Tour to grow its popularity, including identification of key characteristics and behaviors of younger consumers
    * According to the Pinelands Regional “report”, there are currently over 24 million active golfers, with roughly 25% of them between the ages of 18 and 34, according to the National Golf Foundation. That is already a significant portion of all current golfers. However, that age grouping only played an average of 11.6 rounds a year which is far below what other demos are playing.
  • Incredibly thorough research on the existing social presence of today’s younger PGA Tour stars
  • Excellent identification of which social media influencers might be a good fit because of an existing affinity for the sport of golf
  • Some GREAT ideas for partnerships that would allow for the PGA to reach a younger audience (like a Dude Perfect partnership, a little “out of the box” strategy but would have a wide reach and introduce golf to many new consumers) and Barstool Sports, without pivoting too far and disrupting relationships with partners that continue to reach the brand’s current fanbase
  • LOVED the decision to include a charitable component, definitely a strategy that could help engender brand awareness and loyalty with a new target demographic…and really smart to align with those charities that resonate with younger fans
  • One of our favorite ideas: Implementation of golf simulators as part of the promotional plan, especially the traditional mobile marketing strategy to establish pop-up simulators with interactive marketing components at college campuses and popular public places (parks, beaches) to generate excitement for upcoming events and boost ticket sales / attendance
  • Really smart to recognize the opportunity TopGolf could provide based on the demographic data that suggests TopGolf fans could easily be converted to fans of the PGA Tour and its rising stars
  • Interesting to see several of the PGA Tour’s younger stars have a presence on Peloton, thought that was a creative way to find ways PGA stars could have some fun promoting upcoming events

Once again, Pinelands Regional crafted a fantastic case study response, full of market research, a clear understanding of core sports business concepts relating to this case, and a variety of great (and creative) ideas. Really well done!

And the winner is…

As mentioned, both of these submissions were strong, smart and strategic and choosing the winner was not easy. Both teams are to be commended for putting their marketing hats on and thinking about how they could plan and organize a community event. Having said that, we felt one team managed to separate themselves with a little more creativity, attention to detail, and communication of marketing strategy. That team is Pinelands Regional High School.

Congrats to Kathy Bennett and her students at Pinelands Regional High School for winning this year’s “SportsBiz Madness” Case Study Championship, winning the tournament for the SECOND time!