Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Pick 6: Brands, Stories, and Trends Shaping Sports Business #15

It's Election Day in the U.S. Here are six votes for interesting happenings in sports business:

1. How MLB Should Innovate through Digital

Baseball is known as America's pastime, which for some people has connotations of "old." When it comes to currency in digital marketing, MLB may appear old or lagging compared to other pro sports leagues. Marketing expert Bill Kanarick identifies four areas in which MLB needs to step up its digital game: 1) the in-game experience at stadiums, 2) the second-screen experience, 3) social media engagement and storytelling, and 4) content aimed at the always-on fan.

2. Sponsorship: From Signage to Social

Remember when the plum asset of sponsorship was venue signage? Sponsors beamed when they saw their name and logo plastered on signage... along with all the other sponsors, of course. As the sponsorship landscape has become more crowded, signage no longer has the allure that it once had. Exposure must be complemented with activation, and increasingly sponsors are seeking social media integration in their sponsorship strategy. The shift toward more digital activation falls in line with marketing dollars being shifted from traditional mediums to digital channels. Properties must be thinking in terms of how they can collaborate with sponsors to create engaging social media activation programs to add value beyond traditional assets like signage.

3. Under Armour Experiments with Store Design

Everything a brand does communicates, both spoken words and unspoken actions. The latter category includes visual presentation of its products. Under Armour is addressing this characteristic of branding by creating a laboratory environment to test store design elements. Whether it is a small space within a larger store or a dedicated Under Armour "brand house," the company is using its lab to ensure that brand presentation is consistent regardless of store type or location. I guess you could say it is another way Under Armour lives its slogan "protect this house."

Under Armour is Building a Lab to Test Store Designs, Sarah Meehan, Baltimore Business Journal

4. Is Rugby an Up and Coming Sport in the U.S.?

Rugby possesses similarities to soccer as viewed through an American lens- wide popularity globally and an emerging interest in the U.S. Although rugby lacks a pro league like soccer's MLS, that is not stopping sponsors from taking an interest in associating their brands with rugby. What are the long-term prospects for rugby becoming a growth sport in the U.S.? Can it build a grassroots movement like soccer has done over the past three decades?

Is Rugby the New Soccer for U.S. Fans, Marketers? Barry Janoff, Media Post Marketing: Sports

5. RFID: Has the Future Finally Arrived?

Radio frequency identification (RFID) has been a technology that seemed just a bit ahead of its time. Now, its time may have come, and sports properties are figuring out how to take advantage of effortless data collection that can occur from RFID chips embedded in wearables (e.g., a wristband). The benefits of RFID are not one-sided; event attendees stand to have a more seamless experience from entering a venue to buying concessions. Will RFID spur innovation that makes for a better fan experience, one that is compelling enough to get fans off the couch and into the arena?

RFID Can Change the Fan Experience for the Better, Preston McClellan, sportingnews.com

6. The Case for Selling a $25 Hot Dog

Would you buy a $25 hot dog? If you are the marketer, you are asking the wrong person. You may have no interest in handing over $25 for any food item at a ballpark, but what about your customers? The Arizona Diamondbacks were reminded of this fundamental marketing concept when it introduced its D-Back dog. It is an 18-inch stuffed corn dog served on a bed of french fries. The $25 price tag and the don't ask, don't tell calorie count this creation must have was a combination that tempered sales expectations. But, a sales forecast of 500 units was exceeded by 9,000 units. This outcome makes one wonder what other revenue opportunities might be going unrealized, not just for the Arizona Diamondbacks but all MLB clubs.

D-Backs Sell Nearly 10K D-Back Dogs, Darren Rovell, espn.com 

Picture of the Week

A tragic side story that occurred during the World Series was the death of Oscar Taveras, a promising 22-year-old outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals honored Taveras last Tuesday, the day of his funeral in the Dominican Republic, by shining lights in right field at Busch Stadium. The image is a silent, but powerful tribute to Taveras.