Business Blitz: The 2016 NFL Draft

You have to give credit to ESPN and the NFL.  Over thirty five 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, all during prime time. The NFL Network also broadcast the event live.  Coverage has even expanded to the combine.

How far has the event come?  Check out this footage from the 1981 NFL draft by clicking here.

As the event grows, so do the marketing opportunities for brands to connect with fans. Here are some news and notes from a business perspective surrounding this year’s NFL Draft.

ENDORSEMENT DEALS

Imagine paying hundreds of thousands of dollars (millions in some cases) to an athlete who has yet to play a single NFL snap. That’s precisely the position many brands are in leading up to the NFL Draft. Which athletes might best represent their values while helping to sell more products and services? Is the investment worth the risk? Two years ago, Nike shelled out a significant amount of money to sign Johnny Manziel. The company recently parted ways with the embattled former A&M star after repeated off the field incidents and a lack of productivity on it.

Here is a quick look at a few deals that were inked prior to the draft.

New Era’s “Risky” Pick

New Era signed a deal a few years back to become the “official hat” of the NFL, a shrewd move, particularly on draft day when their product is given to EVERY player picked in the first round of the draft, particularly when you consider how much coverage the event now attracts. This year the brand signed a couple of individual players to endorsement deals leading up to the draft. One presents a sizable risk.

Click here to read the story from forbes.com.

MET-Rx

MET-Rx, the sports supplement company, signed Ohio State defensive star Joey Bosa (who was selected ). What makes this deal unique is the brand’s strategy for how they will leverage the relationship as they plan to go “all in” on Bosa as he becomes the face of the company when they “re-launch” the brand and unveil new products.

Click here to read more from cleveland.com.

“Historic” Signing for Zappos

Zappos, the online shoe retailer, made headlines earlier this month when it was announced that they signed Notre Dame star Ronnie Stanley. Because Stanley chose to sign with a retailer and not endorse one specific brand, he will have the option to wear whichever shoe he favors next season.

Click here to read more from dailydot.com.

Nike’s Aggressive Approach

Nike was extremely aggressive in their efforts to ink NFL prospects this year, signing FIFTEEN players before the first name was called on Thursday. Eight of those players were selected in the first round. By comparison, rival Under Armour had only inked one endorsement deal with a draft prospect.

Nike welcomed several players with brief commercials (click here to see some examples from news.nike.com).

Click here to read the entire story on bloomberg.com.

Gone but not Forgotten

Gatorade rolled out a tribute campaign to Peyton Manning on draft day (good timing). In a clever commercial that features everyone from Derek Jeter to Manning fans, his brother and his father, the brand is likely strategically reinforcing Manning’s “good guy” image to maximize the value of their relationship with the now-retired star QB.

Click here to view the spot.

Is Jared Goff the “new” Peyton Manning?

While Denver may have drafted Paxton Lynch as Peyton Manning’s replacement at QB, former Cal QB Jared Goff played the part of pitchman extraordinaire in a series of tweets on draft day with shout outs to a number of brands including Gillette, Tide, Pantene, Red Bull and Microsoft.

 

 

While Jared Goff was cashing in on social media, one prospect’s Twitter account was allegedly hacked just prior to the draft and a picture was posted with him using marijuana. As a result, Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil watched his stock tumble, eventually being selected 5-10 places later than where he was projected. The difference in contract values from being picked #6 overall from #13 where he was picked? Nearly $8 MILLION. That doesn’t even factor in any national or local sponsors who are unlikely to consider him for endorsement deals.

Click here to read more from cnbc.com.

“DRAFT TOWN” IN CHICAGO

Chicago rolled out the red carpet for the NFL as this year’s host city, turning Grant Park into “Draft Town” for three days of events for fans. According to the Chicago Tribune, the “Draft Town” area will cover the equivalent of 20 football fields with attractions, displays and hands-on activities.

Click here for some visuals from chicagobusiness.com and here for a “Draft Town” slideshow from wgnradio.com.

Sponsors

Everything from a new NFL-themed Ferris wheel to Selection Square will be branded by sponsors at the draft in Chicago. A total of 38 brands will have a vested interest in seeing this year’s draft-related events be a success, including Skittles, Dannon, McDonald’s, Visa & Hyundai.

Click here to read more from chicagotribune.com.

Economic Impact

Last year over 200,000 NFL fans visited Chicago for draft related festivities. According to a report from Temple University’s Sports Industry Research Institute (via foxbusiness.com). The result? An estimated $81.6 million in total economic impact for the area.

The report also suggested that last year’s event created more than 2,000 temporary jobs and more than 800 permanent jobs.

NFL DRAFT TV AUDIENCE

ESPN’s day one coverage of the NFL Draft saw a double digit drop in viewership with a 10% decline. It was, however, still the highest ratest program on cable television for the night.

Some speculated the ratings might enjoy an increase with the boost in draft day interest within the LA market as the re-located Rams held the #1 overall pick. However, LA wasn’t even a top ten market in terms of TV ratings. Here are the highest metered markets for Thursday’s coverage:

1. Cleveland (13.3)
2. Columbus (13.1)
3. New Orleans (7.8)
4. Dayton (7.7)
5. Birmingham (7.5)

OVERALL, ESPN and ESPN2 actually enjoyed a slight bump in overall audience from last year with an average of nearly 3 million viewers across three days of coverage making the 2016 NFL Draft the 7th most-viewed draft since 1994.

BEHIND THE SCENES W/ ESPN

Coverage this year also brought an interesting twist with the situation involving prospect Laremy Tunsil’s “hacked” Twitter account.  Much has been made of how ESPN handled the situation during the broadcast.  Sports Illustrated shares a “behind the scenes” look at exactly how things transpired…

Click here for the “Behind the Scenes of NFL Draft Coverage” story from si.com.

INFOGRAPHIC

NFL players make a ton of money coming into the league, but when you’re a top draft pick, the amount of money to be made is unimaginable.Often, one of the first major purchases a highly paid athlete will make coming out of college is a home. In many cases, NFL players relocate from where they went to college to their team’s city or state.

Click here to view a larger image on SCC’s Pinterest page.

 

Super Bowl 50 #SportsBiz Recap

While the majority of football fans today will discuss the possibilities of Peyton Manning riding off into the sunset, favorite commercials and the halftime performances, marketers are busy analyzing the overall impact on brands.  So, which brands won the Super Bowl?  Here is a recap of what the experts are saying about the performance of advertisers, sponsors and social media campaigns…

 

Ad Winners & Losers

Adweek’s top 5 commercials from Super Bowl 50:

  1. Jeep
  2. T-Mobile
  3. Audi
  4. Heinz
  5. Doritos
AdWeek also examined which Super Bowl ads “resonated” with viewers.
Click here to see which spots created the most chatter.

USA Today’s “AdMeter” winners:

  1. Hyundai “First Date”
  2. Heinz “Weiner Stampede”
  3. Doritos “Ultrasound”
  4. Doritos “Dogs”
  5. Hyundai “Ryanville”
More from USA Today AdMeter…click here to see the voting for most underrated spots from Super Bowl 50, the top five worst ads and much more.
Postano.com tracked the “performance” of the Super Bowl commercials and offers a fantastic breakdown (and some cool graphics) of Sunday’s ads.  Click here to view the analysis as well as every single ad from the big game.

Super Bowl 50 by the Numbers

You just have to love the Super Bowl, especially if you teach sports marketing!  The “Big Game” creates such a fun environment for teaching some of the fundamental marketing principles that drive the business of sports and entertainment.

Looking for a current and relevant way to illustrate the concepts of supply and demand or economic impact? Need a discussion starter on the concept of ambush marketing or sponsorship?  How about advertising, ticket sales or merchandising?  Endorsement?  Promotion?  This look at the Super Bowl “by the numbers” has you covered.  Enjoy the “Big Game”!

$35 Million

According to moneynation.com, estimates put Cam Newton’s career endorsement earnings thus far at $35 million.  Newton’s endorsement portfolio includes brands like Under Armour, L’Oreal, Dannon, Beats By Dre and Carolinas Medical Center (among others).

$12 Million

Peyton Manning earned $12 million in endorsements last year alone.  According to Forbes, Manning was the NFL’s top pitchman in 2014 thanks to partnerships with companies like Buick, DirecTV, Gatorade, Nationwide and Papa John’s.

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A Look Back at the Summer Games Social Media “Breakout” Stars

Today’s post comes courtesy of Griffin Booth, Sports Career Consulting’s blog manager, and is a follow up to our post prior to the Summer Games discussing the potential “breakout” social media stars from London.

Back in June, before the Olympic games even began, we previewed athletes who might become stars within social media with a blog post.  Now that the hype of the London Games has died down, it is a good time to reflect back and see which athletes were truly the “breakout” stars of the 2012 Olympics.

Social media has become a good indicator in determining an athlete’s popularity. Michael Phelps is a prominent example of an athlete who excelled in competition and made a name for himself. Phelps entered the games with nearly 180,000 followers on Twitter and had 5.2 million “likes” on Facebook, largely due to his success at the previous Olympic Games in Beijing. After his success in London and ending his Olympic legacy by becoming the most decorated Olympian of all time with 22 medals, Phelps has soared to online fame. Phelps now has 1,404,960 followers on his Twitter account, an increase of more than 1,224,960 fans! Alex Morgan is another athlete who did not receive any national exposure until the US women’s soccer team played in the World Cup last year. In London, all Morgan did to her public reputation was secure a gold medal, headlined by her semi-final game-winner goal versus Canada, in a thrilling come-from-behind overtime victory. Morgan, like Phelps, now has reached over a million Twitter followers and has become a social media star as well.

Before the games began, we identified a few athletes with the potential to become the next social media stars. Here is a look at how our predictions fared…

Carmelita Jeter: Women’s Track and Field

Twitter followers: 37,434
Increase of 33,699 followers

Facebook likes: 21,513
Increase of 16,855 likes

Carmelita Jeter was easily one of the bright new stars on the women’s track scene. Called “the world fastest women”, Jeter went on to win three medals in the 2012 Olympic Games. While only winning silver in the 100m and bronze in the 200m, Jeter rebounded with an historic team performance in the Women’s 4X100 relay. Jeter anchored the team as Team USA shattered the world record by more than half a second on their way to Gold. Jeter’s social media following showed consistent growth throughout the games, and continues to grow, as she remains active on Twitter.

Jennifer Kessy and April Ross: Women’s Beach Volleyball

Twitter followers: 18,384 (Jennifer) & 16,301 (April)

Jennifer increase of 16,845 followers
April increase of 14,241followers

Facebook likes: 9,116 (Jennifer) & 18,537 (April) likes
Jennifer increase of 5,844 likes
April Increase of 14,199 likes

The increase in social media followers continued for both Jennifer Kessy and April Ross on their run to Silver in the Olympics. The American “underdog” duo made headlines as they reached the finals, only to face fellow American favorites Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh. Despite losing to what is now the three time champs of the sport, Kessy and Ross made a name for themselves.

Jesse Williams: Men’s Track and Field
Twitter followers: 5,285
Increase of 3,593 followers

Facebook likes: 503
DECREASE of 381 likes

Williams suffered the biggest disappointment among our predictions for breakout social media stars.  Williams qualified for the final round of the Men’s high jump, but failed to medal, placing 9th overall. His growth on twitter was the lowest of all athletes on our list, and he even lost “likes” on Facebook.

Jordyn Wieber: Women’s Gymnastics
Twitter followers: 496,080
Increase of 481,046 followers

Facebook likes: 365,448
Incraese of 353,444 likes

Despite the disappointment of not qualifying for the individual all-around finals, Wieber made Olympic history as part of the Women’s gymnastics team. Wieber put on a near flawless performance to help lead the US gymnastics team to a Gold medal, the first in 16 years. Wieber became a national star, along with the rest of the gymnastics team, which included fellow star Gabby Douglas. At only 16 years old, Wieber remains active on her Twitter account and is a prominent figure in how Olympic exposure can influence an athlete.

Missy Franklin: Women’s Swimming
Twitter followers: 389,632
Increase of 380,778 followers

Facebook likes: 36,033
Increase of 33,849

Missy Franklin came to conquer to London and leave behind a legacy that would impact her life forever. Both her Twitter and Facebook profiles experienced exponential growth after the 17-year old medaled 5 times, 4 of which were Gold.  Despite offers of a reported nearly $2 million in endorsement offers, Missy’s big move after the Olympic games was committing to a college. Fittingly, she announced through her Twitter feed that she would attend Cal Berkley, where she will swim for the Golden Bears.  For those unfamiliar with Franklin before London, they sure know her now.

Ryan Lochte: Men’s Swimming
Twitter followers: 1,043,634
Increase of 978,857

Facebook fans: 296,191
Increase of 207,475 Fans

Despite being somewhat of a household name before entering the London Olympics, Lochte wins the award for becoming the biggest social media star. His explosive growth on Twitter (gaining 978,857 new followers) shatters the competition among our list of potential breakout social media stars.  Lochte won five medals, including Gold in the 400m individual medley, defeating heavy favorite (and teammate/rival) Michael Phelps. While Lochte has received some negative publicity, fans continue to want to hear more from the swimming star.  After the Olympics, Lochte has been rumored to appear on the hit reality show “The Bachelor” as well as the possibility of participating in “Dancing with the Stars.” He continues to remain a prominent figure in social media which will serve fans well as Lochte plans to swim again in the 2016 Olympics.

Lolo Jones: Women’s Track and Field
Twitter followers: 329,626
Increase of 249,901

Facebook fans: 214,635
Increase of 181,763 fans

Jones was another household name entering into the Olympics, but continued her social media success. Jones’s performance wasn’t what she had hoped for, as she placed 4th in the 100m hurdles. Despite failing to medal, Jones’s personality and marketing savvy has kept her in the national spotlight. She continues to pick up endorsement deals, and after recently being named to the US Bobsled team, will appeal to even more potential sponsors in the future. Like many of the other athletes, she remains active with all of her fans on Twitter, further bolstering her appeal as a brand ambassador.

It is safe to say that social media is transforming how athletes are viewed. While these followers are fans first and foremost, the way athletes present both themselves and what they represent is revolutionizing marketing strategies. Nearly all of the athletes we evaluated throughout the Games have taken advantage of social media to help expand their personal brands, a trend that will without a doubt continue as social media platforms evolve. As for which athletes are next in line to become social media stars, we will just have to wait until the Winter Olympics to see who grabs the public’s attention.

Griffin Booth is in his first year as Sports Career Consulting’s Blog Manager.  He is a recent Washington State University graduate where he majored in communications with an emphasis in broadcasting.  Booth began his career as an intern with sports radio 950 KJR in Seattle where he was responsible for managing the show’s podcasts.  He later gained experience as a news anchor, producer, and reporter for Cable 8 news in the greater Pullman area. In addition to his role with Sports Career Consulting, he is currently an intern with Washington State University’s Cougar Athletic Fund, helping to raise money for student-athlete scholarships.  Born and raised in Seattle, Booth is a huge fan of all Seattle sports. For any questions, comments, or feedback please feel free to contact Griffin by email at gbooth206@gmail.com.  You can also follow him on Twitter @gbooth6.

Which Olympian Will Become The Next Big Social Media Star?

When the Olympic Games kick off next month, several athletes will inevitably break through to become household names throughout the U.S.  One way to measure an athlete’s popularity is through social media.  Michael Phelps’ amazing run in Beijing led to an explosion in followers online.  Phelps now has 5.2 million “likes” on Facebook and nearly 180,000 followers on Twitter.  Similarly, Alex Morgan’s performance on one of sports’ biggest stages (last summer’s Women’s World Cup) helped to propel her to online stardom. Today, Morgan has nearly 500,000 “likes” on Facebook and another 500,000 followers on Twitter.  Morgan will no doubt gain many more fans through her social media platforms as the U.S. women’s soccer team competes in the Olympic Games.

It will be interesting to see which American athlete becomes the next big Olympic star, both on the playing field and in the marketing world.  Social media will no doubt play a significant role for whichever athlete enjoys a meteoric rise to prominence.

Here are the athletes we will be following as our picks for the most likely to break out at the 2012 Olympic Games this summer in London:

Carmelita Jeter:  Women’s Track & Field

Twitter Followers: 3,735
Facebook Likes: 4,658

Many Americans have not heard of Carmelita Jeter, despite her current title of “fastest woman in the World,” in large part because she failed to qualify for the 2008 Games in Beijing.  At 32 years old, this will likely be Jeter’s last shot at gold, on and off the track.  Look for her to make the most of her opportunity and create a legacy that will last a lifetime.

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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: April 5th

For those interested in Masters social media, the folks at Octagon First Call have assembled a “social media guide” to the 76th Masters golf tournament at Augusta.  Great resource for those who want to follow their favorite golfers or get real-time updates on scores.

Need evidence to support your theory that the NBA loves star power?  Look no further than last night’s highlights of the Clippers vs. Lakers game on nba.com.  Based on the ratio of Clippers to Lakers highlights, one would assume the Clippers won the game (they didn’t).  That said, seeing Blake Griffin dunking on Gasol like that (twice) makes a pretty compelling case for why Kia and Subway seem to think he can help them sell more product.

Brands looking for the next up and coming athlete with real star power don’t need to look any further than Robert Griffin III, better know as RG3, who posted his first tweet to his twitter account this week.  Just 24 hours later, he already had nearly 75,000 followers (and nearly 80,000 at the time of this post).  You think this guy is going to help whichever team drafts him sell tickets?  Adidas also stands to benefit from RG3’s foray into social media because Griffin endorses the brand.  Nike probably isn’t complaining either, knowing the former Baylor QB is likely to sell a LOT of jerseys, and they now have the sacred NFL apparel deal.

Speaking of the NFL’s apparel deal with Nike, I’m still amazed how much hype Nike‘s new uniform “reveal” event on Tuesday generated.  Nobody manufactures buzz like the swoosh

For those wondering how lucrative the digital media market is for the NCAA, AdAge recently reported that digital viewership of March Madness generates $60 million in advertising revenue for Turner and CBS.

In entertainment news, it was announced earlier this week that James Bond (Daniel Craig) will help open the Summer Games in London.  GREAT score for MGM Studios as over a billion people are expected to watch the Opening Ceremonies…

JOB SEEKERS!  Seattle University Athletics is looking for a ticket sales Account Executive & Assistant GM of ticket sales.  For more details, please see the previous post on our blog.

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…

Around the Horn: March 9th

The development of niche sports (I wouldn’t go so far as to refer to them as “emerging” sports) apparently remains a hip, trendy endeavour among the community of alternative sport enthusiasts.  Last week, we mentioned the “sport” of Taser Ball.  This week?  Standup Paddleboard Yoga…what will they think of next?  What’s the most bizarre sport you’ve seen?

Today’s Oregonian featured interesting insight on the development of a new soccer ball for the upcoming Major League Soccer season.  Adidas America, headquartered here in Portland, OR, made a few tweaks to the ball used the past two seasons.  The redesigned ball should help minimize complaints from league goalies who suggested the old ball would “knuckleball” on them, making it difficult to predict movement patterns.

Heard a heated discussion taking place at lunch today discussing the Andrew Luck vs. Peyton Manning discussion…and not the on-field performance argument either.  The debate was focused on which player would best represent a brand as an endorser.  With questions remaining about Peyton’s ability to bounce back from several neck surgeries and Luck’s “upside” that so many NFL analysts are raving about, which QB would you rather have endorsing your product from this point forward?

Around the Horn: March 6th

Today the Oreo cookie celebrates its 100th birthday.  The popular dessert received plenty of attention on Twitter with “happy birthday” tweets coming from a long list (and wide range) of fans, including Yoda, the Food Network, NASCAR driver Ryan Newman, McDonald’s and PETA.  Among those not sending any birthday greetings, Shaq, Eli Manning, Apolo Ohno, the four athletes featured in last summer’s “Triple Double” promotional campaign…

From the Twitterverse, via @KellyTilghmanGC: “Honda Classic final rd ratings on NBC up 78% over each of last 3 yrs. It drew a 3.2 overnight, peaking at 4.3 #Tiger #Rory.”  Going out on a limb here but I bet event organizers, sponsors, NBC and advertisers were all pleased to get an up front and personal look at the “Tiger Effect.”

Apparently a Michigan man recently filed a lawsuit over movie theater concession prices…I’m sure stadium and arena managers will be keep a watchful eye on how that suit plays out.

Forbes recently published a fantastic piece that examines the Oscar winning documentary Undefeated (about a down-on-its-luck high school football team in Memphis) with an economic translation.  According to the story, “Life is economics, and Undefeated perhaps unwittingly offers clarity in certain areas.”