Branding the World of Sports

ESPN will help NBA avoid a lockout

Posted by ZA on January 17, 2011

A good article in Ad Age by sports marketing guru, Rich Thomaselli, about the effects of an NBA lockout.  The article details who has the most to lose if the NBA does have a lockout next season.  There is $1 billion worth of television ad revenue at stake, much of that coming from ESPN.  One of the best points in the article is about how ESPN & Turner will fill open time slots in their TV schedules, if there is a lockout.  Thomaselli points out that ESPN doesn’t have NHL programming to fill open spots like they did during the NBA lockout in 1999.

That surely has got ESPN execs in Bristol nervous about the possibility of this lockout happening.  I mean it’s one thing for them to fill their Monday Night Football time slot if the NFL has a lockout, that is one night a week.  It would be something much greater for ESPN to have to find quality programming to fill multiple days of their week in place of their NBA broadcasts.  ABC would be scrambling as well to fill in holes, which would be especially painful since they just recorded their highest ratings ever for their Christmas Day NBA broadcasts.

So what happens to avert an NBA lockout?  I think the folks at the Worldwide Leader get involved to help negotiations. They will of course say they play no role in league versus labor issues, but they do.  ESPN is a brand maker, they can take a player and make him rich just by giving him the exposure that “Madison Avenue” craves.  So you better believe that ESPN has the ear of the players and their agents.  ESPN also works with the league to set the broadcast schedules and each owner knows the more his team is on TV the higher the value of his franchise climbs.  So in the end, I think ESPN helps the NBA to keep playing without a lockout.

If you are ESPN, it’s good to be the king.


Posted in ESPN, NBA, Sports Television | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Will Groupon be successful advertising at Super Bowl?

Posted by ZA on January 10, 2011

AdAge reports that Groupon made a big media buy in the pregame of the 2011 Super Bowl.  Groupon’s goal is to introduce their brand to a more mainstream audience.  The Super Bowl has an audience of over 100 million people (106 million for 2010 game) which is about 4x the number of customers that Groupon has in North America today.  So the Super Bowl offers big potential, but is it a good move for Groupon?

My rule of thumb is that Super Bowl advertising should be for established brands that already spend heavily in television throughout the year (e.g.- Budweiser, Coke, Verizon, etc) and avoided by those just looking to make a splash.  But in this case I think it is a good move for Groupon because they are already bringing in significant revenue and can use the Super Bowl as an opportunity to give more mainstream credibility to their brand.  Groupon may be able to get some of those people who have heard of them to sign up and buy.  Call it success by association – Groupon will benefit from their exposure right next to mainstream brands. So I give thumbs up to Groupon on this Super Bowl ad buy.

While I think this move helps bring in more revenue for Groupon, the bigger challenge for them remains to offer relevant promotions.  Groupon is the it product for local advertisers and some national (i.e.- Gap).  But Groupon is going to have to continue to offer quality deals, from top merchants, to keep people using their site.  If the quality of the offerings from Groupon slips (which I think it does eventually) then their millions of users will stop buying and eventually stop subscribing to their daily emails.  That imo is the biggest challenge Groupon faces in 2011.

Posted in NFL, Sports Marketing | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Who will oversee the FIFA anti-corruption committee?

Posted by ZA on January 4, 2011

The recent round of voting by FIFA to select the locations of the 2018 and 2022 once again brought new improper behavior by FIFA voting members, as well as, plenty of fresh new accusations that FIFA is corrupt.  How has FIFA responded?  FIFA president Sepp Blatter announced that FIFA will setup an anti-corruption committee to ensure more “transparency” for how FIFA operates.  Blatter claimed this move would “strengthen our credibility”.

My question is who is going to oversee the FIFA anti-corruption committee?

By FIFA choosing to self insure their own legitimacy, they are actually just maintaining the status quo.  The same bribery that has routinely occurred could now just extend to the FIFA committee.  The members of the voting committee will know members of the anti-corruption committee, so how hard will it be for them to sway their colleagues when they need a favor.  In reality all FIFA has done has involved more FIFA members in the selection process, which will provide more potential options for the next FIFA scandal.

Whereas if FIFA was willing to go outside their organization to develop a watchdog group, then they would have a better system of checks and balances.  But FIFA is not going to do that because it could perhaps shed too much light on how they operate.  And while I agree that no private company has to agree to 3rd party oversight, I think that FIFA’s role in sports is global and therefore needs someone to keep them in-line.

[Addition: Further illustrating my point, a top member of the current FIFA ethics committee resigned claiming that the current administration has no interest in cleaning up the corruption within FIFA.  How does FIFA spin this one? He’s one of their own saying they are corrupt.]

Posted in Soccer | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Brazil launches new logo for 2016 Olympics

Posted by ZA on January 3, 2011

Brazil has released their logo for the 2016 Olympics.  I think its a good looking logo, even if does bear some resemblance of the Telluride Foundation logo.

Brazil 2016 Olympics logo

Posted in Olympics | Leave a Comment »

Tiger Woods doesn’t get it…

Posted by ZA on November 22, 2010

…but this article in AdAge does.  It hits on exactly where Tiger is going wrong in his efforts to rehab his image and what he could do to improve.  I totally agree that everything Tiger is doing right now seems to be scripted by IMG.

I asked a friend of mine, who is a huge Tiger fan, if he listened to the radio interview last week.  His response was, “You can be a bland d*ck and still be wildly popular (as long as) you win everything.  But finishing 11th and ‘granting’ interviews like this is boring…and a little insulting.”   I agree with my friend and I agree with the experts quoted in Rich Thomaselli’s article.

For Tiger to truly win back some of us, he either needs to start dominating on the golf course again or he needs to be more authentic.  Since I personally don’t think Tiger has it in him to be more authentic, I think Woods needs to just win. The question now is can Tiger Woods get back to that same level of domination?  Can he dominate the golf scene in the coming years the way he did in the past?  I think that’s a challenge for Tiger, because there are a lot more talented golfers these days.  And there is not the same fear of Tiger Woods that once existed on the PGA Tour.  A lot of these younger players and foreign golfers want to challenge Tiger and have the games to do it.

So if I’m Tiger Woods, I would quite these lame attempts to personify himself to the public.  Instead I would go radio silent again and thrust all his energy into getting back to dominating on the golf course.  Then fans like me can just appreciate him for being the best golfer on the planet, instead of his agents trying to get us to like Tiger the person.

Tiger Woods' latest PR attempts are too programmed

Posted in Golf, Nike | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Did media accusations kill England’s World Cup host bid?

Posted by ZA on November 9, 2010

The announcement for which country (or countries) will host the 2018 World Cup is only a few weeks away.  But even as it approaches the decision of who FIFA will select is way up in the air.  I have predicted that England will be selected as host country for the 2018 World Cup.  I think that England would be the most suitable host for the biggest soccer tournament in the world, since they are one of the most soccer mad countries in the world.  I think most FIFA members have agreed with me on England until recently.

Now reports are coming out saying that England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup is “blown…completely”.  What is the cause of this potentially epic downfall for England’s World Cup bid?  It appears to be the English media is the culprit.  The UK press has been reporting on corruption within FIFA for over a month now, which apparently has incensed FIFA voting members to the point they are no longer considering England’s bid.

Wow, if England’s bid is really trashed then FIFA has a lot of explaining to do.  Of course we’ll never know the true story because it is easy for FIFA members to vote for Spain/Portugal or Russia instead of England.  But the truth is their votes for other bids are just votes against England, the same way the IOC awarding the 2016 Olympics to Rio was more a vote against the Chicago bid and the USA.  Politics play a part in these organizations, so they vote against who they do not like just as much as they vote for who they think will be the best host.

The press has an obligation to report the facts they find.  The UK media has a responsibility to report wrongdoing they uncovered within FIFA.  To penalize the English bid based on the work of the UK press is asinine and completely unfair.  Of course I’m not surprised because it is the same people voting who are accused of the corruption.  But make no mistake about it, if England is getting jobbed, it is by FIFA on this vote.

Update: The CEO of England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup is now calling the BBC “unpatriotic” for airing a piece on the FIFA vote scandal three days prior to the WC host selection.  Once again I think the anger here is misplaced.  The media’s job is to cover the story, so criticizing them for doing their job is ridiculous.  Sure the BBC could have aired this story at a different time, but they are publicizing it close to the FIFA vote to ensure maximum exposure.  That helps the media do their other job, which is to sell advertising.

Posted in Soccer | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Checking in at a major league ballpark

Posted by ZA on November 3, 2010

Located based services are becoming part of our every day lives, so it is only natural that those services connect to professional sports.  Now we even have stats to back them up, since AdAge compiled data on Foursquare check-ins at Major League Baseball ballparks in 2010.

If I ran the marketing department for any at the bottom of the list below, I would be working my butt off to make sure more fans were checking in at my part in 2011.  Check ins are a free, natural and sometimes viral way to spread the word about your team.  So why not take advantage of this opportunity?

Top 10 Foursquare Check-ins at MLB ballparks (2010)
1. AT&T Park (36,263 check-ins)
2. Yankee Stadium (35,373)
3. Wrigley Field (25,203)
4. Fenway Park (19,956)
5. Citizens Bank Park (19,889)
6. Citi Field (17,661)
7. Dodger Stadium (15,461)
8. Nationals Field (13,420)
9. Turner Field (13,383)
10.  Miller Park (11,647)

Click here to see the complete list at AdAge.

Posted in Internet, MLB | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

England to host 2018 World Cup & USA to host in 2022

Posted by ZA on September 29, 2010

News that England will be withdrawing their bid for the 2022 World Cup to focus exclusively on the 2018 World Cup tells me that England is confident they will host the 2018 World Cup.  I’ll go one step further and say that England is a shoe in to host the 2018 World Cup.  I think Russia is the serious competition since Sepp Blatter made some positive remarks about their bid last year.  But I think that England will be the pick for host country from FIFA.

Russia needs to focus their attention on the Sochi Winter Games in 2014, making that a success will be a big enough task for them.  The Olympics and World Cup require a lot of support from corporate dollars and Russia doesn’t have the same options that the United Kingdom does.  Plus, England hosts the Premier League so the venues and necessary infrastructure are already in place.  And England has not hosted a World Cup since 1966.  One of the most soccer mad countries on the planet, hasn’t had the biggest soccer event on their home soil in 50 years.  That changes soon, England will host the 2018 World Cup.

That opens the door for the United States to be selected to host the 2022 World Cup.  The US is competing for the ’22 bid with a host of nations (Australia, South Korea, Japan and Qatar) that would do a great job and be a great story.  But FIFA just did the great host nation story with the event in South Africa, which was a great event but not a big money maker.  Corporate sponsors are more abundant in the USA, so they’ll get the nod after England.

Posted in Soccer | 1 Comment »

Taxpayers forced to pay off debts for sports stadiums

Posted by ZA on September 8, 2010

A good article from the New York Times that exposes the debt that still exists on many unused stadiums.  The tax payers in New Jersey still have over $75 million in dept to pay off on the Izod Center, yet no professional sports teams play there any longer (the Nets & Devils have already said bye, bye).  Indianapolis residents have over $60 million in debt yet to pay on the RCA Dome, even though the team is starting their second year at Lucas Oil Stadium.  Both are ridiculously unfair to the taxpayers, but that’s the price you can pay in big time sports.

While I agree that these stadium finance deals can turn out badly for taxpayers, I do think more has to be considered than just the dollars.  A stadium and the team that plays in it is a big part of the identity of a city.  The Meadowlands and RCA Dome are landmarks in their cities, even once they are no longer in use.  So while taxpayers need to be reluctant to pick up the entire tab on these stadiums, they don’t want to stop the next big sports venue from being built in their town.

Posted in New Venues, Stadium Construction, Venue Information | Leave a Comment »

Which college sold the most football tickets in 2010?

Posted by ZA on September 7, 2010

Season ticket sales are one of the biggest revenue drivers for the athletic departments at universities.  Locking fans into that season ticket commitment guarantees that revenue for the coming season.  In a touch economy, which schools had the most success in selling season tickets in 2010?  Below are the top 10 schools with biggest increase in season ticket sales for 2010 over 2009.  The data was compiled in an informal survey by the Birmingham News.

Top 10 biggest % increase in college football season tickets sold (2010):
1. Houston (+ 70%)
2. Marshall (+ 45%)
3. Louisville (+ 31%)
4. Toledo (+ 23%)
5. Texas Tech (+ 20%)
6. Oregon State (+ 18%)
7. Air Force (+ 12%)
8. Alabama (+ 11%)
8. Arizona (+ 11%)
8. Indiana (+ 11%)
8. Washington (+ 11%)

Top 5 biggest % drops in season ticket sales (in 2010 from 2009):

1. UTEP (- 23%)
2. New Mexico (- 20%)
3. Navy (- 19%)
4. Washington State (- 13%)
5. Cal, Hawaii & Kansas (- 11%)

Posted in College Football, College Sports, Tickets | Leave a Comment »