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The Ins and Outs of Sports Marketing


The Ins and Outs of Sports Marketing

What is Sports Marketing?

As it sounds, sports marketing essentially provides a client with strategies to promote sports. There are many things that can be marketed, including people, events, objects, businesses, experiences and events. When marketing sports, a Sports Marketer is equipped to encourage or sell the idea to people to attend a sporting event or support a sports team and even the teams' partners.

Image of the LA Rams' and Cincinnati Bengals' logos in front of the logos of Lays, BMW, Gillette and Budweiser

A few examples of sports marketing that are very popular are Super Bowl advertisements, athlete endorsements and partnerships, and ticket and meet and greet giveaways. Super Bowl ads are some of the most popular sports marketing tactics, and the biggest brands dish out a lot of money for just thirty seconds of screen time. In 2023, the cost for a thirty second spot was set at $7 million by Fox. Even with the astronomical price point, big brands like Pepsi, Budweiser, Tide and GoDaddy paid up for their air time.

Rap star Cardi B in a Pepsi Super Bowl commercial

If you are a sports fan and have an interest or talent in selling a product or service, then this may be the perfect field for you! Although influencers without a specialized degree in marketing or communications have a role, becoming a sports marketer requires at least a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field. Most sports marketers are not introduced to the sports industry right after graduating college as the sports industry is competitive.

Top Trend in Sports Marketing

In any industry, we see trends evolving day to day, week to week, all the way to year to year.

A good majority of sports marketing takes place and roots from social media. Social Media is a way for athletes to use endorsements (brand deals) as a way to elevate their reputation as well as the brand they are working with.

AI (Artificial Intelligence) in simple terms, is the use of robots to think like humans. Science today is beginning to evolve to create a world where the use of AI is more convenient.

How does AI relate to sports marketing though?

You may have heard of Virtual Reality. This is typically used with goggles to impersonate being in a different place or scene. Virtual reality is incorporated in sports, usually to give fans the best experience possible. AI comes in handy as it allows for fans to experience virtual reality. A few other ways that

In relation to sports and AI, players are able to enhance their performance, teams are able to strategize more efficiently and provide more of an experience for fans markets a team, organization, and sports industry as a whole.

Campaigns in Sports Marketing

Over the weekend, U.S. tennis star Coco Gauff won her first career Grand Slam singles title Call Me Champion t-shirt listed on New Balance's websitewhen she defeated top-ranked Aryna Sabalenka in the U.S. Open. There are a lot of memorable moments from her maiden win, but what’s most memorable is the hottest t-shirt on the market courtesy of New Balance.

Championship merchandise that’s ready to go when the confetti drops is a tough thing — there’s a 50% chance the product will never see the light of day. With Coco’s win, the New Balance team, one of Coco’s partners since 2018, was quick to get celebratory t-shirts to her family who promptly put them on as she made her way from the court to see them in the stands. The champion herself even donned Coco Gauff wearing the Call Me Champion t-shirt on the court after her US Open wina shirt post-match in images that have dominated social media since her win.

With the iconic t-shirt dominating the conversation, consumers flocked to Google to find out more about the shirt only to find the t-shirt for sale on New Balance’s website. The Call Me Champion shirt, listed for $29.99, has become a cultural phenomenon to celebrate one of America’s rising tennis stars.

Let’s break down all the things that had to go right for this campaign to work and all of New Balance’s work which contributed to the shirt becoming a fast-selling item.

1. Coco won the U.S. Open

Designing and printing the t-shirts wasn’t hard for New Balance, but no one would ever see the product had Coco not won the tournament. Sometimes, marketing can come down to luck, and in sports, the perfect combination of talent, luck and strategy can create some of the best campaigns and feel-good moments.

2. Her family put on the Call Me Champion t-shirts

Not only did the New Balance team manage to get these t-shirts to Coco’s family during the hectic aftermath of her win, but the family actually put them on. They didn’t set them down on the chair as they hugged their championship-winning daughter and sister or toss them over their shoulder as they were overcome with emotion. Another step of luck here for New Balance as the family donned their product. As Coco gave her interview from the court, her dad became a focal point of the split-shot interview as he wore the Call Me Champion shirt.

3. Fans begin searching for the t-shirt

Trending searches on Google immediately following the win consisted of things like Call Me Champion shirt, Coco Gauff shirt, New Balance Coco Gauff, Call Me Coco, etc. All the stars have aligned for New Balance to not only increase their brand awareness but to actually make the sale. Fans are looking for the product.

4. The shirt is live on New Balance’s eCommerce website

Everything was laid out for New Balance, and they truly delivered. The t-shirt was available on the website with Coco’s win, and fans were quick to buy their own Call Me Champion t-shirts. There are a lot of barriers that can prevent this from happening — supply chain issues, legal, minimum order requirements — but New Balance was able to get the product live right on time.

This campaign is just one of the many successful sports marketing campaigns, and sports marketing is a broad field encompassing all kinds of activations across touchpoints.

Elective for Sports Marketing

At West Virginia University, the Integrated Marketing Communications program offers an elective course in Sports Marketing. Students enrolled at WVU have the opportunity to take an elective class called Sports Marketing (IMC 530). This class provides students with:

  • Fundamentals of Sport Marketing
  • Understanding Sports Consumers
  • Taking an Information-based Approach to Sport Marketing
  • Market Segmentation
  • Sport Product and Pricing Strategies
  • Sport Promotions
  • Public Relations and Social Media in Sport/Coordinating the Sport Marketing Mix
  • Final Sport Marketing Project Plan

With this kind of knowledge, you’ll be ready to jump at the opportunity to take on the sports world.

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Meet the Author

Shelby Genovese

Shelby Genovese
Social Media Student Worker

Shelby is a social media student worker in marketing on the Marketing Communications Online Programs through the College of Creative Arts and Media at West Virginia University. She is a Sophomore at WVU as well as a member of the WVU Dance Team. Her dogs and sports are things she could always talk about! Coming from a small town, Shelby loves traveling to big cities. She is able to express herself through her writing and find more of her work here!

Marcom Today

Marketing Communications Today is a collection of resources for marketing communications professionals filled with industry research, marketing trends, and career information about integrated marketing and data-driven communications. Learn industry insights through the Marketing Communications Today blog, podcast, as well as Integrate Online.

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