Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Pick 6: Brands, Stories, and Trends Shaping Sports Business #22

Super Bowl XLIX is history- the Patriots are champions, the Seahawks are deflated, and the world of sports marketing continues to turn.

1. YouTube's New Sensation: The NFL

The NFL has loosened its grip on content (for a handsome price, of course) by partnering with YouTube to distribute highlights and other content daily. It is a departure from a focus on controlling the distribution channel to making content easier to consume. In an age when younger consumers spend more time streaming video from the Internet, sport properties like the NFL need to meet fans where they are.

The NFL's Cautious Embrace of YouTube, by Eric Blattberg, Digiday

2. Winning the Super Bowl in the Retail Trenches

Brands make a big splash by spending $4.5 million for a 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl. Ads can build brand buzz, but they do not necessarily translate to products sold. PepsiCo leveraged its Super Bowl ad spend and halftime show sponsorship with massive presence at retail, garnering more than 62,000 Super Bowl-themed displays for PepsiCo products in the weeks leading up to the game. For a consumer packaged goods marketer, moving the sales needle is crucial, and PepsiCo made it happen with its Super Bowl marketing.

3. U. of Illinois Wants Input to Improve Fan Experience

This story is not revolutionary, but it is refreshing, nonetheless. The University of Illinois athletic department is addressing declining attendance at its football games by forming a Fan Council. It will consist of groups in Champaign-Urbana and Chicago and will meet four times a year. Senior Associate AD Mike Waddell says Marketing 101 entails listening to customers. A Fan Council can not only be a source of valuable input, but it can create perceptions that UI values stakeholder input.

UI Athletic Department Looks to Fans for Input, by Matt Daniels, The News-Gazette

4. Beast Mode Brand Wins at Super Bowl

The Seattle Seahawks may have come up short in the Super Bowl, but Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch's Beast Mode brand enjoyed much more success. A Beast Mode pop-up store in Glendale sold out of merchandise during Super Bowl week, and a $33 hat with the Beast Mode logo he wore to Media Day sold out on his website. Athletes are brands in their own right; will more players follow in the steps of Marshawn Lynch and build a personal brand identity? Should NFL players be encouraged to do so given the short amount of time they have in the limelight? Would a trend toward more "player brands" be at odds with marketing the brands of the NFL and its 32 teams?

5. Super Bowl Ticket Shortage a Black Eye for Ticket Brokers

The secondary market for sporting event tickets is robust. Buyers scour websites and ads looking for great deals. For marquee events like the Super Bowl, buying from brokers is often a matter of being able to find tickets. Many Super Bowl XLIX ticket buyers dealing with brokers were left feeling disappointed when brokers could not follow through on filling purchases made by buyers due to scarce supply of tickets. The situation is unfortunate for the many buyers shut out of the Super Bowl, assuming an order placed would be an order filled. This situation is not new; many concert goers are frustrated that prime seats are often snapped up by brokers, shutting out the average consumer from buying desired seats. If this trend escalates, will frustrated sports fans give up on trying to attend events and consume via TV (if at all)?

Resale Sites Renege on Tickets, by Darren Rovell,

6. Timeless Advice for Aspiring Sports Business Professionals

The new year is a time to renew focus or set new goals. If you are looking to break into sports business, you have likely heard the often given advice of build a network of professional contacts and gain experience through volunteerism and internships. Sports business professional Mark Burns builds on that foundation by identifying 12 actions a person can take to build relationships and gain experience. The tools available to make these things happen are more plentiful (e.g., email, blogs, and social networking sites), but their use ultimately goes back to the two keywords: networking and experiences. The common thread through Burns's 12 recommended actions is that they can add value to others, which is the essence of marketing any brand, product or personal.

Photo of the Week

The sports world lost another beloved figure on January 23rd when legendary Chicago Cub and Baseball Hall of Fame member Ernie Banks passed away. A few nights later, the Blue Cross-Blue Shield Tower in Chicago honored Banks with a lighted tribute featuring his "Mr. Cub" nickname and number 14.

Photo credit: Lisa Fielding