The social, cultural and media challenges facing sports marketers

Social, Cultural and Media Trends Changing Sports Marketing


Barry Blyn, ESPN
Anthony DiCosmo, Nickelodeon Networks
Heidi Sandreuter, Pepsi Beverages Co.
Adrian Williams, CSE
Mark Wright, AT&T

Finding new ways to reach the youth, Hispanic and female demographics was a focus during a ’13 Sports Marketing Symposium panel that looked at the “Social, Cultural and Media Trends Changing Sports Marketing.” Pepsi Head of Sports Marketing Heidi Sandreuter said, “We’re talking about Hispanics and thinking, Do we have the right assets to connect in a more relevant way with Hispanics? How are we leveraging what we already have to speak to those Hispanic fans in a more relevant way? What can we do together to do something unique and really break through?” CSE VP/Multicultural Adrian Williams added, “We’re really starting to think about that multicultural teen and how they are evolving into the trendsetters, being early adopters, and how does that apply to the general market across the board.” In terms of reaching a youth market, Nickelodeon VP/Sports Marketing Anthony DiCosmo said leagues tend to come in on the perimeter and try to create positive experiences around sports. He said of the NFL Play60 initiative, “It’s not about playing football, it’s just about being active, and they use their athletes as a vehicle to promote this.” DiCosmo also cited a promotion Nickelodeon did with select MLB teams to reintroduce the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles brand at ballparks. He said, “You want to have an experience that transcends just being here and introducing your son to baseball. How can you entertain them in a way that keeps their attention in between innings? Having us there adds value to the experience. ... We give access to our brand in a way that’s meaningful and also touches on sports and allows us to be organic to who we are without losing who our brand is.” Finding a way to connect with a female audience was an issue that the panel admitted posed some challenges. ESPN VP/Consumer Insights Barry Blyn said the problem is, “To what degree do you want to shine a light on women’s sports and to what degree do you want to shine the light on female sports fans for the major sports? You have to manage it very closely to get the coverage to the right tone.”
STAR POWER: When asked about athletes that are trending in sports, Heat F LeBron James was cited as someone who was able to evolve his image from a marketing standpoint. Williams said, “With LeBron, what we’re seeing with Sprite is he’s not only remade his image, but he’s also expanded it into lifestyle. Now you’re able to see what his self-expression is really about. Whether it’s the clothes he’s wearing, his style, to the way that he’s interacting with his kids, to getting married. You’re seeing that evolution of a star athlete, and that’s really appealing to the young audience.” DiCosmo added, “You connect with him beyond being an athlete. You connect to that other side, and that’s what makes him interesting.”

QUICK HITS:

*Blyn on sports that are trending up: “We’re trying to serve a lot of niches and grow sports like cricket and soccer, but at the same time the core sports are the core stars of sports. An interesting and dynamic challenge for marketers is, Do I want to be on every platform but possibly not have an impact, or do you want to focus on the big sports for the big bang?”

*AT&T VP/Media Services & Sponsorship Mark Wright on a change in sports that would alter marketing strategy in a disruptive fashion: “The international competition of what we call mainstream sport in America. If that were to take place – if the NFL, for example, were to have three teams playing in Europe – then you would have to be cognizant of that and market to it. It’s not out of the question.”

*DiCosmo on an untapped market: “Teen and tween girls are let down in that there really isn’t a destination for them to see sports that they’re interested in or participate in. … So what we’ve seen as a tremendous opportunity with a number of our partners is how can you fill some of that void? How do you enhance these experiences for a teen girl?”

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Related Topics:

Media, Nickelodeon, NFL, Football, MLB, Baseball, ATT, ESPN

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