Sport Branding: 3 Companies that Hit a Home Run
Have you ever wondered how the Dallas Cowboys became America’s team? Have you ever seen an athlete (or someone else famous) who has had a fall from grace, then rebuilt the public perceptions of their career? Do you wonder how Nike became the biggest athletic shoe brand in the United States and even the world? The one thing each answer has in common is sport marketing. Someone, or a group of people, has been responsible for building, or rebuilding a name in athletics.
A Move to Reach the Other Half of the Market
It is a well-known fact that half of the population is women. In England, and probably all over the world, women were not participating in athletic events as often as men. The English Sports Council started a campaign to attract that demographic.
Rather than hire a group of David Beckham-like models to pose with their shirts off, sport marketers instead used women who were not all fit—they were women who were in the process of getting fit—in short, they were normal. Using the hashtag #ThisGirlCan, the video marketing has been seen more than eight million times. Surely some of those people who were looking at the video were also using it as inspiration to get more active.
Sport marketers were not used to sell anything, but were used to create a more fit and healthy populace. If that works, sporting goods companies will benefit financially, just like many women (and men?) will benefit by feeling better, and perhaps living longer.
When Athletes Fail
Way back in 1992, there were two favorites to win the gold medal in the decathlon. These two men were two handsome Americans, Dan O’Brien and Dave Johnson. Reebok signed both of these men, and there were several commercials featuring them. Reebok spent $25 million on ads with these two men, starting with the Super Bowl that year. Then the nearly unthinkable happened: Dan O’Brien, thought to be one of the two greatest athletes in the world, didn’t make the Olympic team.
Reebok had already committed months of ads to this premise that these were the two greatest athletes in the world. The rest of the ads leading up to the Olympics showed O’Brien rooting his Olympic teammate on. Eventually, Johnson won the bronze medal, but O’Brien won the hearts of Americans for being a good sport and parodying himself back in America. Call it karma, but O’Brien went on to win the gold in 1996. Johnson retired soon after the 1992 Olympics.
Sometimes the negative isn’t just bad luck, but bad luck made by the athlete. In 2008 Michael Phelps won eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics. Then, in November of that year, he was photographed smoking, apparently, marijuana. Phelps was dropped by sponsors, had his picture splashed over the news, and his reputation sullied.
Then, by accepting responsibility and treating even the pushiest of press with respect, he rebuilt his reputation. He had a plan and, over the long-term, he succeeded.
If you pursue a degree in sports management, you might have an opportunity to help create a sports media effort as successful as one of these. Visit Adelphi University to learn more.