Marketing in Sports

Few times we consider the role of marketing in sports, in the past both walked next to the other and for today standards, one cannot exist without the other anymore.

Every culture and civilization in the past, from Mayans in Mesoamerica and Romans in ancient Europe to the Quin Dynasty in ancient China, have carried out sports events to entertain audiences and celebrate athletes. Together with these displays of excellent physical condition, colorful traditions, chants, symbols, and memorable family names also resonated among the public.

Today, this human behavior of celebrating sports and physical performance continues even at a micro-level with neighborhood sports events which include colors, logos, and slogans used to draw the public while projecting an identity. However, marketing activities in sports go far beyond than customizing fancy clothes for a team.

Marketing in Sports

We are talking about merchandising, endorsements, video games, participation in TV and online shows, music videos and many other market derivatives such as creating brands out of an athlete ‘s name, i.e., Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, or Lebron James sportswear.

Furthermore, colleges and universities offer careers in sports marketing making this field of study a line of work that not only athletes and sport-lovers can opt to, as an alternative to nutrition and physical education, but also more desk-oriented professionals.

However, regardless of how excellent marketing in sports can sound it also implies planning and clear objectives in no different way than any other commercial campaign. In this regard, the marketer needs to address that the success of failure of the campaign will include a direct impact into the fandom and how they will respond to the brand management.

Manning and Papa Johns

Any campaign can fail for unexpected events such as the NFL-papa johns crisis

By the way, we can see this relationship in the movie ‘Jerry Maguire’ which very well exemplifies how sports marketing requires muscle, skill, planning, and hope. Yes hope, because regardless of a well-done strategy one can only expect his team, or athlete wins that precious game and achieve final glory. 

Marketing and PR in sports.

Marketing in Sports also includes the famous ‘agent role,’ who has a unique type of mission by looking for endorsements and therefore open a new myriad of opportunities to the athlete.

As seasons determine sports calendars, marketing campaigns rely heavily upon RP campaigns; these include radio, morning tv, stellar and morning tv shows, as well as social network interviews.

Many popular teams and athletes relay in PR (Public Relations) as these cannot use promotion as products but personalities that need to be remembered, agents try to find interviews and time on-air with sometimes curious notes and participation of the athletes in games and morning shows.

Here some examples:

Messy in a Japanese TV Show accepting a challenge.

NBA player Aaron Gordon dunking in the Ellen Show.

These activities help to promote the image of the sport and the player as well besides capturing new audience.

A great example of this events are the ones performed by tennis players in the last fifteen years; back then, tennis was considered an elite sport in some circles and its growth was limited to higher revenue and a focused audience.

However, that changed when female tennis players such as Anna Kournikova, Maria Sharapova, Ava Ivanovic, and Serena Williams crossed the sports arena reaching the media attention, and therefore company endorsements.

On the male side, It is mandatory to mention the always famous Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic.

Hardwood legend

New York Nicks Tim Hardaway Jr. and Budweiser.

Display of an athlete together with product in an advertising

Roger Federer and Jura Coffee in a warming advertising.

Advertising and Sponsorship in Sports Marketing

Advertising can permeate all activities and surfaces in sports events from the garments the players use and the playing field to narration announcements; this is known as sponsorship. A sponsor (company or brand) provides funds to a team in exchange for being present as part of that team.

This type of marketing activity is easily noticeable in sports such as soccer, surf, extreme sports, and boxing were the athletes, and their gear show high contrast colored brands as big as possible. Other examples were branding is highly noticeable and pay extra money for being a square inch in a team’s gear are car races such as formula 1, Nascar, and rallies.

Sponsorship in Nascar races

There are very different types of Sponsorship such as Official Partnership, middle sponsorship, and technical partner, but these and the whole deal about how and why to be a sponsor will be a matter of another post.

For now, consider that marketing in sports includes many different variations and intricate deals that will unite the brand with the team or athlete performance.

On the other hand, we have ‘advertising’ as the most common of the marketing activities in sports. In this regard,  we can say that every game is an excellent chance to promote product and services to a bigger and captive audience, at least for the duration of the game. 

So it is predictable that many companies will take benefit of this situation.

Of course, broadcasting companies also increase their cost per second and therefore big leagues such as NFL, FIFA, NBA and Formula One Group sell its broadcasting rights to the best paying network. 

Among these advertising pieces, NFL’s Super Bowl can be highlighted as one of the most critical media events in the US, not only for NFL fans but also for the general public due to the national attention its half time receives.

Today, companies invest millions to get a bunch of seconds to place one ad that would be seen for over 100 million people. On their side, advertising companies take their most creative teams to come up with original ideas that, in many cases, have won awards and become part of popular culture.

Advertising the team

Finally, there are the ads made by the same team company or club. Like any other brand, organizations need to continually remind the fans why they need to go to the games. These ads usually rely on the team DNA and include messages about fidelity and support highlighting the meaning behind a team’s origin an attitude.

Take a look to Oakland A’S – country breakfast

In Spanish: Club Atlético Boca Junior Socio Adherente

In the end, the objective of every team advertising campaign is drawing fans to game events. As sports activities are ‘Live’, these campaigns need to be addressed within specific timeframes and cannot be delayed or reschedule, so to enhance this actions teams send their stars to shows and events and promote interaction with the fans through their social media accounts, mainly in twitter, Instagram and snap chat.

Social Network Campaigns

In recent years these interactions in social media have increased inducing fans to share, take pictures, and send messages with phrases allusive to sports events.

Sponsorship is also present through this channel and now develop specific campaigns in social networks to increase number of fans, raise awareness, reach to fans and curious, and more.

Social Nertworking and NFL - Snap chat
Popular figures also depict themselves playing sports to keep familiarity and social validity
An image depicting how social networks are used to promote advertising.

There is a lot to explore about Marketing in Sports, and we know this is only an introduction in the matter. However, stay tuned for more about marketing in sports and related content in this blog.


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