Monday, July 7, 2014

Pick 6: Brands, Stories, and Trends Shaping Sports Business #4

July 4th has passed; the fireworks have all been shot and the grills have cooled. So what has been going on in sports business while we have been celebrating our nation's independence?

1. Showing Fan Identification... Literally

Minor league baseball has a rich tradition of offbeat promotions. The latest example comes from the Syracuse Chiefs, AAA affiliate of the Washington Nationals. The Chiefs held a promotion, offering 36 fans free general admission for life if they would do just one thing: Get a tattoo of the team's 'C' logo. Turnout well exceeded the 36 max, and the Chiefs enjoyed national publicity from the promotion. Do the potential PR payoffs of such out-of-the-box promotions justify venturing into the unknown and executing such an unusual promotion?

2. A (Hundred) Million Reasons to Target Vine

World Cup fever is rampant, and fans have taken to social media to follow matches and share the allegiances unlike any sporting event in the social era. But when it comes to using social media sites like Vine for sharing video footage whose rights are owned by ESPN and Univision, users are being tackled. The rights holders have aggressively issued takedown notices and some media outlets have had their Vine accounts suspended for posting content for which they did not have rights. Does this traditional media mindset work in today's digital world? Can TV broadcast rights holders come up with ways to leverage their asset instead of resorting to policing social networking sites to protect their content?

3. US Soccer Merchandise Sales Soar- Now What?

The US team saw its World Cup run end in the Round of 16, but not before it also saw sales of team merchandise take off. US success in the last two World Cup tournaments and heightened interest fueled by social media are no doubt contributing factors to the sharp rise in merchandise sales. The question that begs to be answered is how can US Soccer sustain this interest so that the team and sport are on Americans' sport radar more than a couple of weeks every four years. The payoff goes far beyond merchandise sales, although that is nice, too!

4. Coke Takes Pole Position on Yahoo, NASCAR Websites

Coca-Cola was title sponsor for the July 5th NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway (run on July 6th due to rain). The Coke Zero 400 was more than a chance for Coca-Cola to splash the brand name via brand mentions throughout the weekend. A campaign that included a strong presence on the homepages of Yahoo and NASCAR tied to an ongoing Share a Coke program was part of Coke's marketing blitz tied to the race. Buying title rights to an event is the beginning- where the sponsor goes from there to activate its asset will ultimately determine ROI. 

5. Airbnb Sports NYC Marathon Despite Questions about its Model

Airbnb, the online accommodations service that lets people rent out their rooms and homes, has signed on as a sponsor of the New York City Marathon. Ordinarily, a sponsorship deal does not raise eyebrows. But in this case, Airbnb has come under scrutiny of state regulators in New York. Sponsors associate with sport properties to enjoy an image association, but sponsors bring their own images to the partnership. Was it wise of the NYC Marathon to partner with Airbnb given concerns about its business model? Is this an opportunity for Airbnb to deal with negative perceptions that exist about the brand?

Airbnb to sponsor New York Cit Marathon, by Eoin Connolly, SportsPro Media

6. Sports Illustrated Bets on Fantasy Sports

The demise of print media has been lamented for some time, but you won't find Sports Illustrated wallowing in self-pity. The magazine has embraced digital, with its latest product a mobile sports betting app called Fun Nation. The app targets the daily play segment of the fantasy sports market. Players pay an "entry fee" to compete against an opponent with the opportunity to win money. It will be interesting to see how the brand extension is received- will Sports Illustrated become a force in the fantasy sports category?