A Glimpse into the Future: What Will the Next Generation of Sports Marketing and Media Look Like?
Social media has changed how consumers engage with brands and sports, so we brought in a team of experts to talk about how marketers and media are adapting. Here's the full panel discussion, which included Brad Brown of Anheuser-Busch, Carol Kruse of ESPN, Christina Miller of Turner Sports, Steve Tihanyi of General Motors, Keith Turner of the NFL and Michelle Wilson of the WWE.
Catching up: Kenny Miller
In working with the New York Knicks and Rangers to set up fan engagement sites, one thing that turned out to be more important than expected was the live experience, says Kenny Miller, founder and CEO of theKMco. “When the game is on, fans have a need to connect with each other,” he said, “so giving them an authentic, official destination that’s part of the team’s outreach ... we’ve seen that really explode.”
Catching up: J. Crowley
Foursquare director of business development J. Crowley talks about how check-ins help teams market to fans not just in stadiums, but at locations such as bars that may be far away from a team’s home city.
Catching up: Brad Brown
Anheuser-Busch exec Brad Brown on how the company is leveraging its investment in the NFL, and why “we couldn’t have drawn up any plans that were better” than the way the MLB regular season ended.
Catching up: Lisa Baird
Leading up to the London Games, the USOC’s marketing strategy will center on the Olympic Trials, says CMO Lisa Baird. “You’ll see us doing a lot of ‘Follow the team,’ ‘Who’s making the team’ and ‘What are the stories of the athletes,’” she said.
Catching up: Ryan Luckey
The MillerCoors director of sports and entertainment marketing talks about its “event-ization” strategy for its NHL sponsorship, and how, with the Winter Classic, the league “created another beer-selling occasion for us.”
Catching up: Mike Reisman
Too many companies are embracing social media solely for its reach, and aren’t using it effectively for marketing, says Team Epic principal Mike Reisman. “Until we do that,” he said, “we’ll continue to under-leverage social media.”
Catching up: Jennifer Storms
From improving the in-stadium fan experience to tackling player safety and consumer health, the creation of an innovation task force is one of the move innovative features of PepsiCo’s deal with the NFL, says Jennifer Storms, the company’s senior VP of global sports marketing.
Catching up: Alex Chang
Catching up: Scott Dickey
Full panel: Agency execs speak out
We gathered some of the top agency execs in the country to talk about their evolving role in the sports industry. Find out what they said in this video of their full panel discussion from the recent IMG Sports Marketing Symposium.
Catching up: Tom McGovern
Despite the lousy economy, "brands are investing in their brands," said Tom McGovern, managing director of Optimum Sports. "You can't lose your customers at this crucial time." McGovern also talks about how brands distinguish themselves in a crowded sports marketing landscape.
Audience, content and measurement
Maximizing Returns on Your Social Media Investment
Ari Osur, Principal Analyst, Forrester Research
Osur discussed the value of understanding your audience and provided a view of the social media landscape, including who’s using it and how. “Social media users are not all the same,” said Osur, who outlined 10 user profiles based on behavior, including the “conversationalist,” the newest segment that represents a key word-of-mouth communicator. Among the key findings of behavior, Osur cited a survey about the increasing percent of people who regularly visit social networking sites when using the internet and watching TV at same time: “Among ages 18 to 24, it’s 64 percent,” he said, recommending that all brands “use social media as a companion tool to broadcast.” Osur: “We have a massive amount of noise and clutter. According to Facebook, there are 2 billion posts every day that are ‘liked’ or commented on. If you’re a marketer, that should scare the crap out of you. But it’s also an opportunity.” To take advantage, he said brands are reorganizing their marketing plans via a paid, owned and earned model: “Paid media is the catalyst, owned media is the portable brand and then earned media, which is the result, and for your social media marketing efforts, this is where you want to focus your attention because you think of all the word of mouth that you want to drive towards.” That’s important because “active social networkers are 19 percent more likely to attend a professional sporting event."
Osur: “You have to think about your fans first, your consumers first, and really the technology second. Too many brands are focusing on their fan page experience or apps in social media at the expense of that push strategy, understanding what’s valuable to them and their fans.” That’s where measurement planning becomes key: “Spend time focusing on what you’re sending out and make sure you have a testing process in place. Collect data and permission whenever possible from fans to engage in direct relationships.” Further, Osur said, “You want to explore the data that you have on your social media users, who’s active and who’s not, and prioritize those people as far as selling tickets and segmentation.”
On team strategies that have produced measurable results:
“The Celtics launched a social media fantasy game called ‘3-point play,’ where you had to register to provide them with your information and permission in order to proceed, and there was an email opt-in as well.” The result? “There was a 20 percent increase in their email database and it was the No. 1 source of new email opt-ins for the Celtics. During the period this game was running, it outperformed the website in terms of generating new email leads.”
On the value/impact of fan pages versus news feeds:
“Fans are 40 to 150 times more likely to consume content in their news feed than on a fan page.”
On what a league, team or property needs to think about regarding social media:
“How can our twitter presence (or other social media) help our sponsors’ overall strategy?”
The U.S. Sports Sponsorship Marketplace: Where Is The Growth and Innovation?
Alex Chang, vice president of sports marketing, access strategy and planning, American Express
Scott Dickey, president, The Competitor Group
Todd Goldstein, president, AEG Global Partnerships
Kevin Rochlitz, vice president of national sales and partnerships, Baltimore Ravens
Jennifer Storms, senior vice president of global sports marketing, PepsiCo
The session focused heavily on developing ways to create new and differentiated experiences for fans, particularly at event sites, in partnership with sponsors. Chang: "We're always about creating a differentiated experience for fans. In the digital space, though, it is harder, and creating a 'velvet rope' is definitely more difficult, particularly given how information is so abundant.” Rochlitz, discussing how they boosted fan elements such as town hall-style chats with team owner Steve Bisciotti: "These kinds of things are big for the fans, and irreplaceable. And our training facility [in Owings Mills, Md.] is a big part of this, too." The evergreen sponsorship issues of measurement and return-on-investment also were discussed in depth. Audience member polling showed that three-fourths of attendees believe the sports industry still does a poor job measuring the efficacy of sponsorships. Storms: "The responsibility [for measurement] lies with both the brand and the property. As a brand you can't rely on the property to tell you about your brand. But they also know that fan the best. It has to be both sides, a partnership." Storms added that data mining, now heavily in vogue across the industry, cannot be an open, unfettered exercise. "You have to tie it to a specific objective. For us, it's less about 'getting lists' than working with somebody and providing a targeted enhancement to a specific fan experience. People will then see the offers coming in as a relevant communication with the brand."
Given the death of Apple chairman Steve Jobs, panelists were asked what they have learned from the iconic technology company:
Dickey: "That music motivates. We're hyper-focused on connecting music back to performance and endurance sports."
Rochlitz: "The importance of connectivity and fan loyalty."
Chang: "The value of simplicity."
Storms: "Focusing on the core, which has been a big element for Gatorade in its turnaround."
Goldstein: "That if you have the best product, people will buy it, regardless of the cost. And they always tell a great story."
On the impact of the global economy, and the possibility of a double-dip recession:
Dickey: "We've been fortunate. The more people are unemployed, the more time they have to run. We've been able to continue to grow."
Goldstein: "It's tough out there. But I think at the end of day, sports sponsorship has elements that really deliver for brands, and still do good things. Premium seating is definitely tougher, though. The media has tarnished the luxury seating experience, and some companies don't believe they're allowed to have a suite now. I do think the premium seating market will be further affected over the next 24 months."
On the impact of the NBA labor dispute. American Express is a league partner:
Chang: "There is a lot of contingency planning going on, a lot of working against different potential scenarios."
A Glimpse into the Future: What Will the Next Generation of Sports Marketing and Media Look Like?
Christina Miller, Senior VP, Strategy, Marketing and Programming, Turner Sports & GM, NBA Digital
Brad Brown, Senior Director, Sports Marketing, Anheuser-Busch
Michelle Wilson, CMO, WWE
Keith Turner, Senior VP, Media Sales and Sponsorship, NFL
Carol Kruse, CMO, ESPN
Steve Tihanyi, General Director, Branded Entertainment Marketing Alliances, General Motors
Much of the discussion in the panel hinged on how companies will continue to grow their social media use to create more conversation both with fans and among fans. Tihanyi: “People will continue to want to have their voice in the way they want to disseminate their thoughts and the way they’re creating content and distributing content. Because I think everybody now wants to be … a content creator and provider.” Wilson talked about how the WWE plans to take fan participation to another level with its network: “One of our visions that we have for the WWE network is to launch that as the most interactive network in television history. We’re looking at things such as using our website to have our fans vote on shows or show names. I don’t think that’s ever been done before, where the fans can actually have a voice in the schedule of the network and what they’ll actually see on the network on Tuesday night versus Friday or Saturday night.” Kruse said marketers are still getting used to constantly overseeing social projects that they used to push aside once they finished. Kruse: “As marketers we’re used to launching something and then moving on. We’re not used to that constant care and feeding that comes with a Facebook page or a Twitter feed or a YouTube channel.” But Wilson reminded everyone that the whole point behind any marketing effort is to make money: “We still have to monetize the content. I think a lot of those models, whether it’s Hulu or Xbox or other ways that consumers can see live content and it not be on a TV network, the models of how to monetize that are still very unclear, and that’s what we’re in the business of doing, is getting paid for the content we create. I don’t think there’s a clear-cut answer, but you certainly have to be diligent and smart, and at the end of the day there’s still a fair amount of networks out there that will pay for content because they need to drive ratings.” Turner stayed with that point by adding, “We have broadcast partners that pay us phenomenal amounts of money for the rights to broadcast our product. The other side of that coin is the point of making money, which is why we’re in this game.”
On sports fans watching games live, not recorded:
Kruse: “Ninety-nine percent of live sports is viewed live. We are destination TV. We are destination viewing, where if you’re a sitcom, it’s OK to watch it the next day. That’s very different than most other content industries.”
On trying to get fans to attend games live:
Turner: “That’s the biggest challenge that we have going forward. The price of tickets, the parking, the amount of time it takes to get to and from. A priority of the league is to make sure the in-stadium experience is as positive and enjoyable as the in-home.”
On ESPN parting ways with Hank Williams Jr.:
Kruse: “For ESPN, Monday Night Football has always been about the game. Our focus is always about the matchups and the game. So where Hank might’ve been distracting our fans from the game and what we’re really focused on, we decided it’d be best to part ways.”
On the importance of TV ads:
Tihanyi: “We will always have an interest in being on-air in what are called the more traditional manners, because at the end of the day it still hits an incredible amount of people, a lot of eyeballs, creates a lot of awareness, it can help change opinion and do certain things that are very important to us. Where the traditional media have suffered the most is more probably in the area of radio and print … because we’re shifting so much more money into the digital space.”
In the Spotlight: The Kellogg Company
On whether General Mills’ using Olympians in their imaging for Wheaties offsets the value of the USOC partnership:
Uridge: “The USOC has been good about looking out for ambush marketing from General Mills or from any other company. I don’t‚ think it takes away from anything that we are doing. The company has the right to sign an athlete.”
NBC offers USOC partners two types of advertising buys. One that offers category exclusivity, which is priced at a premium, and another that allows the network to bring on competitive advertisers. How do you decide whether to pay more for exclusivity?
Uridge: “We have traditionally not had a media buy with the sponsorship. We are not the kind of company who would slip in and try to align and look like we were part of the games. Even if we didn’t have the partnership we wouldn’t do it.”
Fan Engagement: Optimizing Your Social Content Experiences
Miller opened his speech by advising marketers to be fearless experimenters. “You know what you should do -- experiment, try things out, don’t be afraid to fail, make a lot of small bets and see what works, because, truthfully, everybody is still figuring it out. It’s new.” Miller then highlighted the importance of Facebook in the growing social landscape: “Some time in the next three to six months … more than 20% of time spent online will be occurring on or around Facebook. Other things matter, Twitter matters a lot, Four Square is interesting, but Facebook matters a lot.” Miller then talked about his company’s strategy for engaging Knicks and NHL Rangers fans: “Our strategy is about connecting the fans in ways that are valuable, fun, natural and persistent. The persistent part is really, really important. Doing one-offs is no way to build a business. Increasing value over time is really, really important.” One example Miller gave of how his company has sought to do that is with the “Face-Off” poll for the Rangers, which is called “Tip-Off” for the Knicks. “This is a poll where a fan can come in and make up their own questions. … If you make a quiz, you get 10 points, and for everybody who then takes the quiz, you get another point. The better the content the more people will take it and the more points you get.” Those points may be redeemed for tickets, prizes and other items from the teams, which is just one more component to drive fan interaction. Miller: “What we’ll see these sites evolve into is a bit more of a game show experience, where it’s like a game show is wrapped around an entire season.”
On explicitly stating how you want your audience to participate:
“It’s very important to tell people exactly what you want them to do. You tell them to read and you tell them to comment. That makes a big difference.”
On how quickly digital media has grown compared to past businesses that affected the culture:
“Canals, railways, telegraphs, oil pipelines and roads, all these things take about 40, 60, 70 years to reach full growth. The reason that there’s so much both excitement and confusion around what to do around digital media and social media is we have never experienced a cultural change on this scale this quickly, ever.”
On moving editorial content from a team site to an affiliated fan site:
“By breaking it into two sites, we can simplify the system. By simplifying sites, you improve the functionality of them, breaking into a transactional side of the house and the engagement side of the house.”
On how his company has successfully integrated games into fan websites:
“I think games require creativity to create. Just adding points and badges to a site doesn’t make it fun. … We actually incorporate that gaming into the overall system and that helps increase the activity.”
Leveraging the social network
Omid Ashtari, Director, Business Development, Twitter
Ty Ahmad-Taylor, CEO and Founder, FanFeedr
J. Crowley, Director, Business Development and Media Partnerships, foursquare
Nick Grudin, Strategic Partner Development Manager, Facebook
The discussion largely centered on how to best utilize social media to create a community, and which brands are most effectively integrating the platform. Grudin underscored the value of conversation-propelled touch points: “For every time a user shares the fact they’ve purchased a ticket to an event on tickemaster.com, it generates an incremental $5.30 in revenue for them. So an advertisement from a friend is a lot more compelling than a banner advertisement.” Crowley: “We’ve seen a trend of users who are checking-in to stadiums. We want to know not only where you are but what you’re doing…we’re capturing all that data, which then makes it easier for these teams or sponsors to do marketing plays, like specials.” Ashtari: “It’s about social currency. It’s about connecting that in-stadium experience to that person at home to give them that feeling of, ‘Crap, I’m missing out, I better get to the stadium.’” Ahmad-Taylor: “If you don’t get involved in social channels, you’re going to pay because those conversations are going to happen anyway.”
While Ashtari said “all teams want to attack the social space” and that “they see the value with daily dialogue with fans,” some have been particularly adept. “At the beginning of last season the Chargers had a situation where they couldn’t sell all of their home seats and were going to be blacked out (on TV), and the Chargers and the Patriots, who were visiting, sent out a Tweet saying, ‘We need to sell a thousand more tickets or else we’re going to get blacked out,’ and they sold the tickets within an hour.” Crowley: “U.S. Soccer, for a friendly they played against Argentina over the summer, ran a swarm special. If 500 people check-in here, you unlock 20 percent off the new red Nike jersey. I remember kicking around a soccer ball in the parking lot and all of a sudden our phones buzzed along with 500 other people to say, ‘Congratulations, you’ve all worked together to unlock this special, now enjoy 20 percent off.’” Grudin: “Folks that are willing to move fast and take risks, those are the folks that are going to see the biggest benefits.”
On what draws in fans to social media:
Ashtari: “Fans come to find athletes. When Arian Foster tweeted out a picture of the MRI on his hamstring, ESPN had it on TV and on-line immediately. There is opportunity there because of all of this conversation that is happening.”
On teams or leagues that have yet to capitalize on opportunities:
Ahmad-Taylor: “Look at FC Barcelona. It has how many followers, north of 21 million? But if you look at what they’re doing from a television-rights perspective, there’s no way to watch any of their games on-line. They don’t seem to leverage their social channels with what’s going on in broadcast. That’s a team that has nothing but opportunity…they don’t seem to have figured out how to get in front of customers.”
On how specific metrics showcase the value of social media:
Crowley: “If you can see 600 people unlocked a special in a stadium, you can see how many people are redeeming that at the cash registers in the stadiums.”
Catching up: Steve Battista
To reach today’s consumers, it’s not enough to have great products, says Steve Battista, brand VP for Under Armour. You’ve got a have a great story.
Catching up: Katie Tyrrell
There are 6.8 million fitness swimmers in the U.S. who buy gear every year, and another 83 million recreational swimmers, says Speedo’s Katie Tyrrell. The marketing director talks about how the company is reaching out to those consumers, especially using digital media, and about marketing the brand as we head into an Olympic year.
Building brands: Spending, marketing-savvy on rise among top sports and entertainment properties
Greg Busch, Executive VP, Client Management, GMR Marketing
Greg Luckman, CAA Sports
David Abrutyn, Senior VP and Global Managing Director, IMG Consulting
Jeff Shifrin, President, Octagon Marketing North America
Michael Reisman, Principal, Team Epic
Despite the sluggish economy, many of the nation’s top sports and entertainment brands and sponsors are increasing spending – though doing so more cautiously and across fewer properties, according to the agency panelists. Luckman: “I’m not finding the same sense of concern or as much caution as a couple of years ago. At the same time, there’s more work being put into the planning cycle.” Abrutyn: “What certainly has proven true in our business is that sports is working. If you look at the television ratings here in the U.S. for the major sports properties, you look at some of the global properties that are expanding into this market…what they want to do is find a way to spend money on things that work. They’ve got people activating in football in a way that some people would not have thought given some of the labor challenges.” Shifrin, who jokingly said that it pained him to agree with Abrutyn (and IMG), concurred: “Even through the recession, three or four years ago, we never really saw clients spending less. We actually see them spending a lot differently.” As far as where clients are allotting their budgets, Shifrin added: “Our clients are spending a lot more on the marketing side and activation side, they are not looking for new properties. Much more targeted.” Reisman echoed the same: “Our clients are spending more on activation than ever before.”
Brands and properties have grown in terms of marketing know-how, said Abrutyn: “Properties are also shifting some of their thinking from sponsorship business … where today they are media companies. Staying with the NFL example, it’s NFL.com, it’s the NFL Network. There are so many other ways they want you to invest in the league. Whereas before it was about the rights fee to them to invest in the league, now it’s about the whole conversation.” Shifrin cited NASCAR as a prime example of a property – like many others -- that has conducted an internal review and made changes. Shifrin: “I do think the properties are doing a better job. We’re actually seeing people try to do ROI analysis when they come in for the first or second meeting. Ten years ago, we would have never seen that from a property. I think all the properties are, I don’t want to say they’re catching up to where the marketers are, but they’re catching up to where the marketers are.”
On the role of social media and marketing in connecting with consumers:
Reisman: “It’s about the degree of intimacy. Consumers want to get closer to the game. And with all of the technology, not just the social media – the whole digital ecosystem – there are so many new and different ways to get closer to the consumer. Properties’ knee-jerk reaction is to be protective about what’s happening in the coaches room, in the back room…the more the properties can be open-minded to consumers to gain that sense of intimacy with the game, the better.”
Luckman: “Talk about an area of evolution, there’s talent that is embracing social media. Granted there is a risk factor. The way they are building up their own communities…they are becoming media distributors themselves. So if brands can take advantage of that, not only is that a new tool, but a more targeted way to reach that audience.” Luckman on technology in the industry: “The opportunity is limitless; at the end of the day it’s all about screens…you wake up (and) you’re looking at screens all day long. Word of mouth is no longer word of mouth. It’s word of text, word of tweeting.”
Reisman: “The great thing about our business is emotions and passions. How can we drive transactions when we get those impulses?” Reisman also pointed out singer-entertainer Will.I.am from the Black Eyed Peas as a “great marketer because he uses social media to build his fan base and then he gains information from them about what music they want him to play and where they want him to tour.”
On the next major naming rights announcement:
Busch: “Yesterday, I would have said the Superdome…but you have to look at what the available inventory is out there. Obviously, the Cowboys have an opportunity.”
Luckman: “I just keep an eye on San Francisco and the Silicon Valley. There’s a lot of companies who you might not think of that are showing interest.”
Abrutyn: “I think Dallas is probably a major one. I’d go Dallas.”
Shifrin: “I don’t think it’s a classic naming rights, but Yankee Stadium with their premier partnership. I think that may be the next one. I think Dallas is the obvious one.”
Reisman: “I don’t know, but I do want to give a shout out to the Farmers Field deal. I think that was a stroke of genius and in a way Farmers Insurance bought the best insurance policy in the history of sports. They are paying a premium and getting an annuity in terms of good will and PR.”
On when/if the 2011-12 NBA season will happen:
Luckman: “I’m looking forward to seeing them in June playing in the playoffs, and maybe even a condensed playoff timeline so there will be less days in between games, which I think for a fan experience would be great. The network partners might not love it as much.”
Abrutyn: “I think you’ll see basketball at some point this season. Maybe not as much as everybody thinks…”
Shifrin: “I think (NBA Commission David) Stern is a genius. I think he will get it done, though they might miss one or two weeks.”
Reisman: “I think David Stern will convince them that the damage to the sport is irreparable and they’ll be back.”
College Sports Marketing: What’s Hot on Campus?
Ben Sutton, President, IMG College
Larry Scott, Commissioner, PAC12
College athletes aren’t going to be paid any time soon. At least not if two of the biggest power brokers in the sport, Pac 12 Commissioner Larry Scott and IMG College President Ben Sutton, have their say. Scott said the idea of it is impractical. Scott: “Do you pay the football player the same as a rower? There’s no practical way to do it.” Sutton added, “I think it’s preposterous. I think it’s irrational.” He added that less than 1.5 percent of student athletes on football teams go on to play professionally and that there is still value in a free education. Despite the spotlight on scandals at schools like Ohio State and charges by NCAA President Mark Emmert that there’s too much greed in college sports, Scott and Sutton agreed that the college sports world is healthy. Scott said that the passion rivals what he sees enjoyed by English Premier League clubs. Scott: “It is concerning that there is something every day, headlines about a scandal or greed. We do have to clean up some of the rule breaking, and the NCAA has an important role in that regard, but those of us in it ... there’s a tiny percentage.”
The consolidation of the college industry would appear to have the potential to turn some sectors of the business, like the Pac 12 conference and IMG. into competitors, but Scott and Sutton brushed off that possibility, saying that the college business is still too immature for that to be an issue. Sutton: “We’ve been very proactive about what is our role and what are our rights. Are we going to be competitors at some times? Yes. But the fact of the matter is the more successful we are and the more successful Pac 12 Enterprises are the more the college boat is going to rise higher.” Scott said that the future of college sports marketing will be transcending the field of play and selling sponsorships that give brands rights across a university campus. He added, “We’re just scratching the service.”
On conference realignment:
Scott: “It will be status quo. The media has completely blown up this story. I expect six months from now we have six conferences. Six major conferences. The balance of power may have changed.”
On whether the University of Texas will join the Pac 12:
Scott: Not for the foreseeable future. It looks like the Big 12 will stay intact as it is. Texas is really committed to its Longhorn Network.”
On how college differs from the professional sports business:
Scott: “The passion, the value, the revenues being generated is far behind the audience.”
On sponsorship opportunities in college sports and recent multi-school deals with UPS and MillerCoors:
Sutton: “We’ve got boots on the ground at every one of those schools. We’ve got activation specialists that reside in those college athletic departments.”
On the role of beer in college sports and sports marketing:
Sutton: “All of the messaging is related to responsible drinking and is really geared toward alums. None of it is geared towards students. You have a really adult message that’s going out there and that’s really the only way we want to take it to market, because it’s fraught with risk if it’s not done right.”
On why college athletes shouldn’t be paid:
Scott: “Fundamentally, it’s not professional sports. Someone who is a student athlete himself and deals with student athletes, they’re getting something incredibly valuable. They’re not there to earn money to play professional sports.”
On the selling points of college for brands beyond passionate fans:
Sutton: “There are more female fans. It’s one of the most diverse fan bases. Certainly one of the most affluent. And there’s the largest number of millenials. We do play our games no matter what. The fan affinity is unmatched. You love your team for the rest of your life in college.”
On the potential of a college football playoff:
Scott: “I don’t think we’ll see a college football playoff any time in the near future. Regular season college football is as popular and successful as it is. Every week matters.”
Sutton: “I’d like for it to happen. I think if it ever does (it won’t be) a full-blown playoff. We don’t want to dilute the regular season product.”
Focus on brand puts Under Armour on top
The Players: Steve Battista, Senior VP, Brand, Under Armour
Tom McGovern, Managing Director, Optimum Sports
Day one’s final panel lifted the lid on Under Armour, which in just 15 years has grown from a handful of staff working the trade show circuit to a billion-dollar sports and lifestyle juggernaut with more than 4,500 employees. The secret? Never sacrificing the brand, according to Battista: “From the very beginning it has always been brand first. Accounting, finance – it’s all of our jobs to build brand equity.” Under Armour’s media and marketing campaigns have always reflected lifestyle and brand image, as showcased in its debut TV advertisement in 2003. Battista: “We had all these agencies come in and every one of them wanted to talk about the technology of the fabric. For us, that was a key point in our brand to say, ‘That’s great, but we need to show passion and emotion and what our brand is all about. If we have 30 seconds, we’re not going to talk about moisture-wicking microfiber fabrics. We’ll do that online or on a hangtag.’”
On the brand’s first big break:
Battista: “Our first big break came in 1999. This movie ‘Any Given Sunday’ was coming out and (director) Oliver Stone wanted a totally futuristic, new-wave football movie and the newest stuff all the kids had. So he called Under Armour and we actually sold him product.”
Two key things happened as a result, said Battista: “It was the first time we did product placement in a TV show or movie, which would become a big part of our strategy later on. Also, we jumped on a hot spot and said, ‘We’ve got to follow up with some kind of advertising in order to tell people what logo they’re seeing on the screen when they saw Jamie Foxx and Al Pacino wearing it.’ Kevin took the entire company and brought them together – all 16 of us – and said, ‘We can skip a paycheck and afford to buy a 1/3-page ad in ESPN the magazine so that people will know what that logo is.’ And it was a big gamble and we took it. It helped propel us through a very tough spring and into the fall, and that was the first time we had done any mainstream advertising and it worked for us.”
On growth potential:
McGovern: “These guys have a right to create content that other brands don’t necessarily have, because of the assets that they have. As great as the story is, the opportunity for growth is even greater.”
On selecting brand endorsers:
Battista: “It’s a long dating process. We do things a certain way. We have the brand we’re going to stick by and make decisions on brand first and business second.”
On the impact of creating special uniforms for the University of Maryland football team:
Battista: “It was definitely a perfect-storm moment with how it was executed. It just told a great story that the coach got behind and that the team got behind. Still, the day after (the game), we asked, ‘How can we do this better?’”
McGovern: “We were measuring all of the online chatter…it peaked during the middle of the game through the people who were following the game through Twitter and Facebook. Talk about a level of engagement. And they were talking about two things: Maryland football and Under Armour.”
In The Spotlight: DOVE Men+Care
Rob Candelino, Marketing Director, Personal Wash U.S., Unilever
Much of Candelino’s talk and interview revolved around Dove Men’s “Journey to comfort” marketing campaign. Candelino explained what the company found in its research that led to the launch of the campaign: “There was one consistent thing, there was a spine that that ran through all of our learnings everywhere from everyone we talked to, and it was this: that guys eventually reach a point in their life where they’re figuratively comfortable in their own skin. It wasn’t just that moment that we wanted to feature. That wasn’t that important to our guys. What they wanted to hear was the journey.” The TV and digital ads first featured Yankees manager Joe Girardi, Cardinals 1B Albert Pujols and former MLBer Andy Pettitte. Dove then launched the campaign during the NCAA tournament and featured NBA HOFer Magic Johnson, Georgetown men’s basketball coach John Thompson III and former Duke G Bobby Hurley. Candelino talked about the importance of advertising to NCAA viewers. Candelinoa: “Forty-two percent of the audience of the NCAA Tournament March Madness is exactly in our wheelhouse. It’s our guy. And this 42%, that’s a lean-forward audience. They’re very much engaged. It’s not passive viewing like many sports are. This is one month of intense focus and they devour data.” Candelino then explained how Dove and Johnson both used social media to help market the ads. “We launched @DoveMenCare, our Twitter handle, on the back of the tournament. At the same time, Magic Johnson launched his. Magic became such a fan of the campaign, such a fan of the products, that he was tweeting all the time… and he used, very often, our hash tag.” Dove’s newest “Journey to comfort” ads will feature ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit.
On the two traditional ways companies marketed products to men:
Candelino: “There’s the alpha man, be all that you can be, superior performance, top drawer, expertise. And then there’s the other side, which is the hunter-gatherer, use us, get the girl, be a man. There was nothing in the middle.”
On exploring marketing avenues besides sports:
“We’re trying to deliver a message about celebrities in a relevant way, but a different, unconventional way, to a fan base that is curious and interested and wanting to engage in a deeper content about that individual. You take that as a principle, you’re not limited to sports. You could go to music, you could go to actors, you could go anywhere you want. I don’t think there are any limits to where we can go.”
On the decision to first begin selling men’s products:
“A quarter to a third of our users were already guys. We were already in the door. This brand was in 40% of American households, so our penetration in our categories is unrivaled. It’s incredible. So we knew we had a relationship already. Guys were using a product that was primarily advertised toward women and featuring women. They were still using it. The product worked and they wanted to use it.”
On the importance of shelf advertising for Dove:
“Fifty percent to 70% of purchase decisions in our category are made at shelf. So I can be very engaged watching on TV or on a mobile device or online, but when I go to the shelf and I see something else on sale or something prompts me, you may not close the deal.”
On filming athletes unscripted for commercials:
“You get such raw stories from these guys. It comes easy for us, really. You just box it up, you frame it nicely to an audience that’s captivated and wants to hear it and it’s engaging. Everyone that we’ve done has, at one point or another, blown us away with fantastic stories that are humorous or engaging.”
On using Andy Pettitte in commercials after the HGH controversy:
“We think he addressed it incredibly well. He came public, he announced it, he acknowledged it and he dealt with it in a very professional way. We were very supportive of the way he dealt with it and handled it. We think he made his peace with it, and so it wasn’t really a consideration beyond that for us.”
Catching up: Scott Bowers
Breakout session: “Futurecast: A Look at the U.S. Hispanic Marketplace and What the Explosive Population Growth Means for Sports Marketing”
Victoria Vitarelli, VP, Marketing, Univision Deportes
Russ Findlay, CMO, MLS
Reinaldo Padua, Assistant VP, Hispanic Marketing, Coca-Cola North America
Manuel Garcia, Esq., Director, Latino Affairs, N.Y. Yankees
One of the major business challenges discussed by the panelists was how companies can focus on Hispanics’ passion for sports to effectively promote their products. Padua: “It’s all about the passion points for the consumers. Once you have identified that passion point, you can connect your brand to consumers and have a more emotional connection.” Vitarelli: “If you’re not talking to them directly with a message that really resonates with them, you’re not delivering. Hispanics are going to seek out a message that really resonates with their culture, with their food and with their identity and with their language. Language is an important part of their identity that they’re very proud of.” Garcia: “When I first started I saw a poll a media outlet had put together that showed close to 50% of Hispanics will try a new product or will buy a new product or will align themselves with a company if that company invests in something that is important to them, whether it is a sport or an event and for Hispanics that’s huge.” But Findlay pointed out that tapping into that passion can be difficult. Findlay: “There is a risk sometimes that because of the expansiveness of what available media channels there are, there is the availability, especially for the Hispanic community, for consumers to maintain those passion points from their country of origin. So they may love soccer, but because there is more choice they can maintain their affiliation and they can consume media from outside the U.S. It doesn’t necessarily mean that just because they like soccer and they’re passionate about it, that they automatically like Major League Soccer.”
On cutting corners in a marketing campaign:
Vitarelli: “You can’t just take a commercial from XYZ country and adapt it. You’re cutting a corner and you’re not connecting with this multicultural Hispanic American person, which is very different from somebody from a Spanish-speaking country outside of the United States.”
Findlay: “If the message isn’t right, then … you’ve lost your money and you’ve certainly lost an opportunity. And even worse than that, you have given an impression as to how you view your product vis-á-vis that consumer and so you’ve just communicated a lot, which is, ‘I don’t understand you and you don’t matter.’ No faster way to tank your brand than to do something like that.”
On the diversity of MLS:
Findlay: “We are, in fact, North America’s most diverse sports league. Our employees come from over 60 different countries. We want to be sure that we are a representation of the world if we’re the world’s sport. And if we’re in the world’s melting pot, then we clearly want to be a reflection of what that embodies.”
On how to succeed when marketing to Hispanics:
Findlay: “Know your ethnicities. It’s not one Hispanic market, it is a compilation of a number of Hispanic sub-markets. Content trumps language. Assuming they’re bilingual, they will consume you in the language in which they find the content most available.”
Catching up: Betsy Frost
The General Mills exec on Wheaties’ new deal with NASCAR driver Jeff Burton, the brand’s heritage in sports, and how the company is using digital media to reach consumers with sports-oriented lifestyles.
Catching up: Dan Drummond
The brand director for P.F. Chang’s says dining and running have a lot in common, and talks about the future of sports marketing for the company.
One-on-one Interview: David Downs, Commissioner, North American Soccer League
Downs talked about how the NASL is working with Major League Soccer to grow its brand: “We’re in a situation where we’re complementing the MLS in terms of markets. We’re fitting into markets that right now don’t have professional soccer teams. So we are the highest form of the sport that you can see in person. The marketing challenge for MLS and the marketing challenge for NASL is to get people to understand that the act of attending in person is a different act than watching on television.” When asked about possibly putting a team in Buffalo, Downs said: “Buffalo’s probably not one of our highest-targeted markets, but I should say that there are probably nine markets in the top 25 of the U.S. metro market sizes that don’t have a professional soccer team. I would say those nine markets are probably higher targets for us than a Buffalo. But Buffalo would be the kind of market that would work in our league so long as we didn’t have too many of those.” Downs also discussed certain Hispanic markets the NASL is looking at: “(Clearly) we look at markets like San Diego, Sacramento, other Texas markets ... there’s a lot of opportunity.”
On FIFA’s decision to not award the 2022 World Cup to the U.S.:
“I just think it was a terrible, terrible decision, which didn’t protect the interests of the athletes who come together every four years to play in the World Cup, and the fans that often spend their life savings traveling to whatever country is hosting the World Cup and I think deserve the right to be in a great environment.”
On the process of bidding for major international events:
“I’m proud that we were economically incredibly frugal in the nature of our bid, but at a bare minimum you have to spend $10 million to mount one of these bids. If the rule is going to be that we’re going to award it to some country that’s never hosted before, make that a rule, tell us not to bother to bid, not to spend our money. At some point these governing bodies may need the U.S. and may need the vast resources in the U.S. and the vast population base. To this day, I believe we would’ve been the best place to hold the World Cup.”
On the sports business stories he’s watching right now:
“The NBA lockout. Fascinating to me that one of the highest-revenue-generating leagues in the world is having a player issue right on the heels, of course, of the NFL lockout. Another interesting story is the UEFA financial fair play regulation, where they’re attempting to put the brakes on clubs that are just buying up the best players and spending willy-nilly without any regard to debt and operational cash flow.
On the future of women’s professional soccer in the U.S.:
“I’m somewhat skeptical that the United States can support a women’s professional soccer league at the economics it’s going to take to keep the players gainfully employed. I think it is a truism that sports fans tend to be male and not female. The U.S. Soccer Federation has to find a way to keep this marvelous team playing at the level they’re playing. So that either means playing in another country’s professional league that is better supported than the United States or it means creating a barnstorming national team, paying them all salaries for being on the national team and playing 50 exhibitions a year the way you might play 50 matches.”
-- Matt Schiffman
Agency Executives Speak Out
We had an all-star roster of agency execs on stage during #sbjsms to talk about hot-button issues facing the sports industry, and we’re posting the entire discussion here.
On the roster:
David Abrutyn, IMG Consulting
Greg Busch, GMR Marketing
Greg Luckman, CAA Sports
Michael Reisman, Team Epic
Jeff Shifrin, Octagon
Terry Lefton, moderator, SBJ/SBD
Catching up: Greg Busch
The GMR Marketing exec talks about building relevant content into social media, building vs. buying, and how he sees brands taking a cautious approach to spending while not retreating from the marketplace.
Catching up: Norris Scott
The NASCAR VP talks about sponsorship activation around the Chase, building a season-ending event on South Beach, and the future of Champions Week in Las Vegas.
British Airways using Olympics as branding tool
The Presenter: Frank van der Post, managing director, brands and customer experience, British Airways
With its sponsorship of the 2012 London Olympics, British Airways “looked at what we can do to go beyond sports,” said van der Post. That’s exemplified in a “Great Britons“ program that gives people a chance to devise a menu to be served on British Airways flights, create artwork to be painted on a dozen planes or produce a film to be shown on planes and at the Olympic opening ceremony. In addition, British Airways “flew back the (British) Olympic and Paralympics teams from Beijing, and we went as far as to paint the nose of one of our planes gold because we had quite a number of gold medalists there. We received a tremendous amount of publicity out of this ... millions of dollars or pounds in PR…all over the newspapers.”
Employees have been targeted through a “My 2012” internal goal-setting program that features a website where “thousands of employees have challenged themselves to achieve new heights in…sports, health and well-being, arts, business and entrepreneurship or community.” The campaign is working externally, as well, said van der Post, citing that 34 percent of Britons identify British Airways as an Olympic sponsor and that the company is “clearly seen as a very British part of the sponsorship. Pride is the most emotive part of our campaigns and it seems to be working well.”
On operational readiness in preparation for the Olympics:
“We’ll be running about 120,000 passengers a day, so operationally we have to be ready as well. I’ve heard stories of our baggage handlers buying drain pipes the length of pole vaults to see if they could load them in the planes. (We need to) make sure that with Heathrow Airport we have a smooth incoming and outgoing traffic.”
On navigating the red tape involved with Olympic promotions, partnership and general action:
“While it’s not necessarily easy. you’re also very protected…which means you’re not going to any rogue guys running around trying to take advantage of it. At the same time, I think you’ve got to build those relationships…and you’ve got to see how far you can stretch the limits.”
On how British Airways will leverage its executive club/frequent flier assets:
“We will be relaunching the executive club on the 16th of November; all the cards will be rebranded and have the Olympic logo (and) we will have special opportunities for our frequent fliers to earn tickets.”
On how to they will deal with potential ticket-use issues:
“We’ve got a fairly robust program in place to make sure that those invited really show up. At the same time, the majority of tickets we have will go back to the public and be used in sales promotions.”
On evaluating the $60 million Olympic sponsorship spend:
“We have 40,000 employees all over the world; if this was something that rallied them together to deliver, then it was well worth it.”
Catching up: Frank van der Post
With the London 2012 Games fast approaching, the British Airways executive talks about how the company’s Olympic sponsorship has grown brand awareness, and what the focus will be in the nine months leading up to the event.
Catching up: Tony Wells
Wells, executive vice president and CMO of 24 Hour Fitness, talks about dealing with the speed of change, how gas prices affect the business, and using social media as a tool to build the brand and listen to customers.
Hayzlett keynote address opens Sports Marketing Symposium
Marketing in a brave new world, with Jeffrey Hayzlett, former CMO of Kodak
Hayzlett opened the 2011 Sports Marketing Symposium with a funny and energetic keynote address that included anecdotes about the trials of overseeing marketing for Kodak during a time when the company was losing billions of dollars. Hayzlett: “When I stepped in we were doing the Olympics, NASCAR, the Rose Bowl, the PGA Tour. I put a mirror up to the mouth of every property to see if it was alive.” Hayzlett said the first thing he did was send an employee to the IOC to let the organization know that Kodak would not renew its $50 million annual partnership. “That’s not an easy decision to make when you were the original sponsor of the Olympics back in 1896. But in the four years I was at Kodak, I never met anyone from the IOC.” Hayzlett said the purpose of marketing executives is to cause tension at a company by stretching the brand in a way it’s never been stretched before, and to do it quickly. His initiatives at Kodak included shrinking the number of vendors from 3,500 to 170, changing the layout of the website to emphasize stunning photography, and even creating April Fools marketing platforms, such as a fictitious Wink-and-Shoot face camera and aroma photography. Hayzlett: “Even if we screw up, let’s do it faster. Just remember, if you screw up, nobody is going to die.”
On how he treats partnership pitches from potential vendors:
“If it doesn’t fog the mirror to drive sales, it’s out. You have eight seconds to make me interested and 110 seconds to close me.”
On the purpose of marketing departments interacting with human resources and legal at a major firm:
“Marketing is supposed to cause that funny feeling in the stomachs of HR and Legal, and make them ask themselves, ‘Are we doing the right thing? Are we pushing it too far?’”
On the goal of social media and online marketing:
“People say they want a viral video. You know what? As fast as they find you they will leave you. This is a game of hearts and minds, not eyeballs and ears. Don’t worry about the people who come to you every so often. Focus on your regulars.”
Samsung America CMO Ralph Santana talks about preparations for “the first truly digital Olympics,” as well as the challenges of staying relevant through the growth of digital and social media.
Catching up: Jim Lyski
Jim Lyski, executive vice president and CMO for Scotts Miracle-Gro, talked with us about the difficulties of marketing to financially-stressed consumers, the reason for a disconnect between the marketing economy and the real economy, and the advantages of being a non-traditional sponsor.
CMOs talk about navigating the ever-changing marketing landscape
“Chief Marketing Officers: Navigating the Ever-changing Marketing Landscape”
Jim Lyski, CMO, Scotts Miracle-Gro
Ralph Santana, CMO, Samsung Electronics America
Tony Wells, CMO, 24 Hour Fitness
Much of the discussion in the first panel of the day focused on how to use social media as a cost-effective way to interact with consumers. Lyski: “Social to me is really just about enabling word of mouth on a large scale. … If I can figure out a way to really facilitate word of mouth marketing via social, that’s where it pays off for us and that’s where we start seeing the performance on the shelf in our retailers.” Wells: “We’ll have a Facebook page for every club, and we’re really viewing that as their local newspaper. I think there’s a trend to continue to go local and make that communication very individual. For us, it’s a tool for our clubs to keep their members informed of what’s going on.” Santana said that for the ’12 London Games, Samsung will launch “a program that’s called The Genome Project.” Santana: “It’s a Facebook app that will … literally build for you a family tree that will show you how you are connected to different Olympic athletes. … It was grounded in this insight that people really want to know how they’re connected to the Olympic movement, but they don’t really have the means to understand what that connection may be.” Santana added that to mitigate company costs, Samsung on its website has “a lot of social tools that enable consumers to talk to each other, post questions, talk to experts and literally solve their own problems. … So instead of calling the call center, which might cost $6 to resolve an issue, typically an e-mail resolution of the same issue might cost us 10 cents or a chat room might cost us up to 50 cents.”
On the value of using a sports agency:
Santana: “There are three criteria: it’s insights, ideas and executions. So can you deliver the insights? If you can then you’re a valued agency. Can you translate that into an idea? Then ultimately, how do you execute it?”
Lyski: “The primary reason we use them is because I’m not going to be able to develop and grow a talent base that can come anywhere close to what I’m doing with Wasserman [Media Group]. So we use them for strategy and then actual event execution.”
On how the goals for using sports branding and social media are identical:
Lyski: “You pick the sports that are going to flesh the brand out in a more personal way with an end consumer, and that’s the way we’re leveraging the social vehicles.”
On two major concerns for marketers:
Santana: “One is just how you stay relevant to consumers as they’re evolving, in particular your target audience. But how do you truly remain culturally relevant in the space that you try to own? The second big concern that I think we have as marketers is this notion of, How do you stay ahead of the digital curve? And how do you really think about the use of social in more of a strategic way?”
On an example of other companies’ impressive use of social media:
Santana: “I was at the U.S. Open and I really was impressed with the app that the USTA built out … It was really interesting in the sense through two lenses: one was the utility and the functionality of the app. … It was just this very rich, engaging experience. But in addition to that they actually partnered with IBM to build that out. … I just thought that was a really interesting application there.”
-- Matt Schiffman
Catching up: Sergio Del Prado
We caught up with sports marketing consultant Sergio Del Prado to talk about reaching the Hispanic marketplace, including misconceptions, what works and whether mainstream brands are catching up.
Catching up: Carmin Romanelli
Carmin Romanelli, vice president of sports business development for Getty Images, stopped in to talk about how digital opportunities are affecting Getty and its partners, how live video is changing the business, and who he thinks will win the World Series.
Catching up: Michael Neuman
On Day 1 of the IMG Sports Marketing Symposium, we talked with Michael Neuman, managing partner of Scout Sports & Entertainment, about finding new marketing partnerships, evaluating returns on those efforts, and where undervalued opportunities exist in the sports space.