Monday, July 14, 2014

Pick 6: Brands, Stories, and Trends Shaping Sports Business #5

Here is the latest installment of six articles on sports business topics that are suitable for self-development, classroom discussion, or mere entertainment. 

1. Timing is Everything

The 2014 FIFA World Cup has shattered all records for exposure and interest as measured by social media conversations and shares, digital streaming, and TV ratings. How can American soccer capitalize on the heightened interest in soccer after the World Cup concludes? Even MLS clubs with the most fervent fan followings stand to gain by building on World Cup frenzy. What are ways to parlay World Cup interest into MLS interest? 

2. NASCAR Competitors Form Alliance

The racing on the track may be intense, but nine NASCAR teams have come together off the track to form a business alliance. Known as the Race Team Alliance, the teams will be pooling knowledge and resources on business best practices and creating greater buying power than possible on their own. Is this a model that other sports leagues should consider adopting? Can they come together in an "all for one, one for all" alliance given that most of the time their objective is to defeat and be superior to competition?

3. DirecTV adds Fantasy Football Channel to Lineup

If you are a fantasy football player and looking for one more reason to stay home instead of going to NFL games, DirecTV is a adding a fantasy football channel. The channel, dubbed Fantasy Zone, will offer fantasy-related content and updates. Will the introduction of DirectTV's Fantasy Zone be more effective at enhancing the fan experience of indirect consumption or dissuading fans from attending games in person?

4. Michelle Wie- Finally a Golf Superstar?

Michelle Wie has been in the spotlight as a golfer and product endorser for over a decade. Her professional accomplishments left a little to be desired, namely tournament championships. This year, the now 24-year-old Wie has won two tourneys including the U.S. Women's Open. Her stock as a product endorser appears to be on the rise again. More importantly, could Wie become the face of the LPGA that it so needs for raising the brand's profile? 

Michelle Wie's Star Power Rising, by Mechelle Voepel, ESPNW

5. Russell Westbrook Framing Success as Product Designer

It is not unusual for professional athletes to have a hand in designing products. However, most of these ventures are closely related to their source of celebrity such as sneaker brands. NBA star Russell Westbrook is the latest in a growing list of pro athletes branching out into design of lifestyle products. He is behind Westbrook Frames, a line of fashion sunglasses retailing for $95-145. Is this the beginning of a broader collection of lifestyle products from Westbrook? Does he have the personal brand equity and image to propel his products to success?

6. Sneaker Deals 2.0

Adidas signed Andrew Wiggins, the first overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, to a multi-year deal with a guaranteed $2 million annually. Not a bad payday, but it is significantly less than deals star NBA players have received in the past. This fact is not a knock on Wiggins as much as it represents a shift in how sneaker companies view the role of star players today. The number of players that can ascend to the status of being "brandworthy" are few and far between. The next Michael Jordan or LeBron James will come, but who it is and long it will be are unknown. In the meantime, sneaker brands are scaling back the investments made in star players, particularly ones at the beginning of the professional careers.