Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Pick 6: Brands, Stories, and Trends Shaping Sports Business #10

The NFL is grabbing attention, but for all the wrong reasons. Thankfully, their are other happenings in sports marketing that are not as troubling. This week's Pick 6 is a blend of NFL happenings and other news from the industry.

1. Major League Soccer Gets a Logo Makeover

For the first time since the league began play in 1996, Major League Soccer has updated its logo. The revised logo is distinctive in that its color scheme can be adapted to match that of any MLS club. Is this the future of league logos?

2. Radisson Takes a Stand, Wins Approval on Social Media

Among the fallout from the Adrian Peterson story was sponsors taking steps to distance themselves from Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings. Radisson Hotels was one sponsor that made such a decision, announcing that it was dropping its sponsorship of the Vikings. Although the company probably did not make the decision for publicity reasons, the impact was noticeable and immediate. Radisson mentions on social media in one day were 58% of the total of brand mentions it had received in three months. A majority of the mentions of the Radisson brand were positive. The brand had little to lose by disassociating with the Vikings, and as it turned out it gained admirers for taking a stand.

3. Procter &  Gamble Moves NFL Activation to Sidelines

The NFL has a major initiative in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but one of its corporate partners has decided to not participate this season. P&G's Crest brand will not go through with its planned activation, providing pink mouthguards to players, in response to the league's handling of domestic violence cases involving some of its players. Is P&G making the right move to distance itself from the NFL brand, or are there other ways to show disapproval of the situation without canceling the planned activation?

4. Univlever Connects with College Football

While P&G is scrambling to get away from the NFL, another consumer powerhouse brand is using football to connect with fans, college football that is. Unilever is an official NCAA football sponsor and is aligning multiple brands- Axe, Dove+ Care, Degree, Suave Men, Clear, and Vasoline- and is featuring ESPN personality Jesse Palmer in its marketing. The program is the latest in  Unilever's strategy of using sports to connect with men.

Unilever Launches Retail Program around NCAA Football by Karl Greenberg, Marketing Daily 

5. Will New NCAA Scholarship Policy Impact Sponsors?

The NCAA recently approved institutions from the "Big 5" conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC) extending "full cost" scholarships to student athletes. Many observers believe this decision is a step toward these conferences becoming more powerful and an effort by the NCAA to keep them from breaking away. College athletics sponsors should be monitoring these developments to determine their next steps in partnering with institutions, particularly ones included in the new scholarship policy. 

What the NCAA Autonomy Vote Means for Sponsors by Vince O'Brien, GMR Marketing Blog

6. MLB's  Addition to Product Lineup Card: Wines

What does Major League Baseball have to do with wine marketing? It turns out there are 10 million reasons for MLB to be in the wine business, as in $10 million retail sales estimated from the league's  foray into event and team-branded wines. MLB licensed wines provide yet another outlet for fans to exhibit affinity for their favorite team while giving the league a revenue stream that is associated with an upscale product.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Pick 6: Brands, Stories, and Trends Shaping Sports Business #9

Week 3 of college football, week 2 of the NFL, two weeks to go in the MLB season, and NHL camps are about to open... and that is just a partial rundown of what is going on! It's my favorite time of year to be a sports fan. Here are six stories of interest:

1. US. World Cup Stars Score Big

The U.S. men's soccer team might have fallen short in its quest for success in the FIFA World Cup, but star players Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore continue to score as product endorsers. What are the endearing attributes of Dempsey and Altidore that make them such appealing brand ambassadors? 

2. Fantasy Sports Finds Growth in Daily Games

A hot segment of the fantasy sports industry is daily games. They appeal to players who may not be interested in making a season-long commitment to manage a fantasy team. And, another attraction of daily games is that many of them involve cash prizes. The long term promise of the daily games segment is uncertain as questions about the legality of some pay games exist, specifically whether they are a form of betting. If daily games survive legal challenges, their impact on the business of fantasy sports could be huge.

Daily Fantasy Games Propel Industry to New Heights, by Jason Barmasse, fieldsofgreen.com. 

3. IndyCar, IMS Turn Corner

The IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) have languished for many years, overshadowed by NASCAR in the U.S. and Formula 1 globally. However, better times may be ahead for Hulman & Co., owners of the two brands. But, what obstacles or other barriers to growth loom around the corner they have turned?

4. Declining student attendance for college football: Catalyst for Long Term Problems?

College football is wildly popular in the U.S., trailing only the NFL in fan interest. But, a noticeable trend occurring in recent years on many college campuses is declining student attendance at football games. Why worry given that many students pay reduced prices for tickets or even get in for free? The concern is that an apathetic student body today becomes an apathetic alumni in the future. Marketers must step up their game and make football games a compelling entertainment experience for their customers... including students.

Empty Seats Now, Fewer Donors Later? by Jake New, Inside Higher Ed

5. Washington Redskins Products Not Welcome at Etsy

The ongoing controversy about the appropriateness of the nickname "Redskins" for the Washington NFL franchise gained another detractor. The e-commerce site Etsy announced it would no longer let sellers offer products featuring Redskins name or logo on the site. Etsy said the decision was guided by its corporate values and weighed freedom speech against freedom from discrimination. Will other retailers follow suit?

Etsy Bans Redskins Products from Its Site over Offensive Name, by Tony Manfred and Christian Storm, Business Insider

6. Does the NFL Need to Mend Fences with Female Fans?

An estimated 46 percent of the NFL fan base is female. In the fallout from the NFL's handling of Ray Rice's discipline in his domestic violence case, some public relations experts believe the NFL has work to do to rebuild credibility among fans, particularly females. The league's approach to marketing to women occasionally raises eyebrows, such as the observation that one of the main marketing tactics for targeting women is offering a wide variety of pink merchandise. The Ray Rice and other domestic violence cases are far more serious. How the NFL responds will send a message about its views on protecting women and children, but will the message be satisfactory?