In TSMWIF on May 11, 2009 at 9:40 pm
No, that's not Stefan Fatsis (Photo: Martin Meissner/Associated Press)
Stefan Fatsis and I have three things in common: 1) We both like Scrabble 2) We’ve both suited up and kicked field goals in training camp for the Denver Broncos 3) We both think Handball is an excellent sport that should be more popular in the United States. Ok, #2 isn’t true, I haven’t kicked for the Broncos, but I’m right there with him on handball. If you’re not familiar with the sport, here’s how I would describe it: A mix basketball, hockey & lacrosse played by linebackers and running backs. It’s really a great sport with tons of action and exciting, athletic play. Handball falls into that category, along with lacrosse and rugby, of sports that in a parallel American sports universe would be wildly popular. Unfortunately, the American sports universe we all live in features American football, basketball and baseball.
But maybe there is another path for these sports. Individually they will remain fringe sports in this country, so let’s not pretend otherwise. But there are a lot of people in this country who do indeed love these sports and play them competitively, if not professionally. In Europe, the local sporting club has a much larger role than it does in America. Here, sport revolves around youth leagues, organized high school and college sports and of course, professional. That leaves out a significant portion of the sports playing population.
Is there a publication that caters to the adult, team-sport oriented player? Plenty of golf and running magazines out there, but what about something for the guy who loves getting together with his mates, lacing them up and going at it on a Saturday afternoon? The long tail theory would suggest that there is an opportunity for someone to cater to this crowd. You aren’t going to grow sports like this by reaching out to people who have never seen handball before. You grow the sport by first catering to those who love it.
So, Stefan, start looking for some funding, you handle handball and I’ll write the rugby (or maybe even cricket!).
In TSMWIF on August 13, 2008 at 8:18 am
The Economist recently published a Special Report on the Business of Sport that covers off on a lot of timely and thought-provoking topics. The lead focuses on the Olympic Games of course, but there are also strong pieces on Sport and the Media; Sponsorship (disclosure, a MasterCard executive is interviewed here; MasterCard is a client of my agency); and of course my favorite, cricket.
I write about sport and the business of sport often on this blog. For my thoughts on these topics check out the T(SM)WIF tab at the top of the blog.
In TSMWIF on August 11, 2008 at 8:38 am
Eyecube Buzz9: Sports-related topics I’m buzzing about:
Beijings Water Cube Olympic Swimming Venue
1. Olympic Venues: The Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube.
2. Olympic Swimming Drama: Phelps on course with help from teammates.
3. Favre to Jets: Still an 8-8 team, but watch those jersey sales!
4. PGA Championship: Padraig Harrington wins 2nd straight major.
5. Los Angeles Angels: The team to beat in MLB right now.
6. English Premier League: Charity Shield out of the way, season starts on Saturday.
7. Tony Hawk’s Boom Boom Huck Jam comes to New York tonight.
8. Tri-Nations Rugby: All to play for as the World Champs South Africa head to home soil.
9. Cricket: England v. South Africa – England heading towards victory.
On the horizon: Tampa Bay Rays
In the rearview mirror: The New York Yankees
Eyecube Buzz9 will appear on Monday.
In TSMWIF on July 28, 2008 at 9:22 am
In TSMWIF on July 21, 2008 at 12:05 pm
In TSMWIF on May 17, 2008 at 11:33 pm
If you’ve checked out this blog more than once during the six weeks of existence, you know I have a thing (obsession?) for cricket. I’m not running around looking for it, but it just keeps popping up. The latest example? The NY Times ran a story in their Saturday Metro section ostensibly about author Joseph O’Neill, whose new book, Netherland, features the sport heavily. Really the article was about cricket in NYC.
Maybe it’s just a New York thing, but I’m starting to think that cricket is going to become a hot trend in the States. Not the sport necessarily, but the cricket lifestyle. I can see Phat Farm using the style cues of the cricket sweater; or maybe the cricket floppy hat for days at the park/beach/pool.
The game has all the right cool factors for U.S. trend-setters, with its elitist history, international flavor and general ‘unknown-ness.’
In TSMWIF on May 8, 2008 at 7:40 pm
I’ve written about cricket a number of times over the last month, and it seems the sport is riding a wave of unprecedented popularity. More proof?
A feature article in yesterday’s NY Times, and now a survey showing that cricket is the favorite sport in Australia. Accoring to a Roy Morgan Research survey of 50,000 Aussies, 47% say they watch cricket on television (hat tip to Sportcal).
Photo credit: Ruth Fremson/The New York Times
Cricket probably isn’t the right play for every brand, but the sport is so distinctive that it should be a good fit for someone, and the sport’s supporters are so loyal you have a good chance of grabbing their attention.
In TSMWIF on April 25, 2008 at 2:52 pm
Fourteen of the first 16 FIFA World Cup tournaments were held in either South America or Europe (with Mexico and the U.S. being the exceptions). For the 2002 event, FIFA, the world governing body of the sport, made the unprecedented move of not only awarding the tournament to Asia, but also having it hosted jointly by two countries. The decision was favorably received not just by the Asian Football Confederation and its members, but also by FIFA’s marketing partners who would be able to showcase their brands in new, emerging markets and territories.
Certainly the region had seen major events in the past, with both South Korea and Japan hosting Olympiads in the last 20 years. But this time around it was different in several ways. First, the geography of the event made traditional media channels – print and broadcast – a difficult proposition for fans in the United States, Europe and Africa. But unlike previous major sporting events in held in Asia, broadband and mobile phone technology allowed fans to have instantaneous information regardless of their location. The second critical factor coming out of the 2002 FIFA World Cup was the beneficial knock-on effect it had for “non-traditional” locales and their opportunity to host global events. Last year the West Indies hosted the ICC Cricket World Cup for the first time. In 2008 Beijing will host the Olympics for the first time and in 2010 South Africa will host the FIFA World Cup for the first time.
What does this mean for marketers? Access to new markets is only valuable if you have the distribution to service this new pool of consumers. But even then, simply throwing open your doors, whether they be of the brick and mortar or virtual variety, is only part of the solution. Considerable consumer education may be necessary, and traditional advertising may not be enough. New consumers will need to be courted through a variety of channels. Being a sponsor of an event that engages consumers through their passions is a strong proposition, made even more so by leveraging public relations. Brand ambassadors, consumer events and online engagement can all help build brand awareness and affinity, which can lead to true business building impact.
Just as important as the consumer education is the brand education. Understand the needs and limitations of a new consumer segment as well as you’ve studied the new opportunities. You may even need to adjust your product to fit local customs and economics.
In Insight, TSMWIF on April 15, 2008 at 10:31 am
Once again, cricket has caught my attention. This time in the form of a terrific piece by Preeti Chaturvedi. The piece appears on BrandChannel and talks about the Indian Premier League (wikipedia link, sorry the official site is down), the new professional Twenty20 Cricket League in India. With big name sponsors, athletes and money pouring in, there are certainly opportunities for brands, as Chaturvedi rightly points out.
I would caution however, that any brand jumping in should keep a couple of important issues in mind. First, the glut of sponsors rushing to fill this platform vacuum could leave consumers confused. Is Brand X a sponsor of the League, a team or a player? If Brand Y sponsors an opposing team, should I not buy it? What if one of my favorite players switches teams, should I still buy the product he endorses? Any brand getting involved is going to have to carefully think about its strategy and decide how they are going to differentiate themselves from other sponsors, and how they are going to engage consumers in a meanigful way. I can’t imagine that simply putting your logo on the sleeve of the jersey or on the perimeter signage around the pitch will be enough.
Secondly, before making the decision of how to activate the sponsorship, or even whether or not to get involved at all, a brand should be careful to choose their partner wisely. Are the League and the teams going to be managed and operated in a manner that aligns with your brand? Will League or team marketing have a different tone or voice than your brand? Their is no sense sponsoring the Mumbai club if they are going to be a “bhangra” team and you are a “bhavageete” brand.
I think the IPL can and will be very successful, but any fledgling endeavor is due some rough patches. Brands must go in with their eyes open and make sure they work with the team or League as a partner. Sports sponsorship is more than just writing a check and sitting in a luxury suite. You have to roll up your sleeves and often demand that the team/League/player work with you. Push them to meet your needs because, don’t forget, they have a different agenda than you.
In TSMWIF on April 11, 2008 at 8:37 am
Yet another example of the globalization of sports, today courtesy of an interesting list on ESPN.com. Gary Belsky, ESPN the Magazine Editor-in-Chief, put together a list of “The Top 27 Sports in the World Right Now.” Not a scientific list, to be sure, but just one informed man’s opinion. Taking top honors is cricket (ok, that’s two cricket posts in a row, do I see a trend emerging?), followed by more ‘traditional’ U.S. sports like MLB, golf, NHL and the NBA. The top 10 also includes Aussie Rules and Gaelic football and further down the list you can find fun stuff like Sepak Takraw (#15)and Korfball(#16).
Sure, ESPN purchased the hugely popular cricket site cricinfo, so putting the sport that also produced the greatest sports book ever written, at the top may be a result of ulterior motives, but I don’t think ESPN is pandering to the badminton crowd (#13), they are just reflecting a consumer landscape that is diverse and is being pulled from every corner of the globe. If The Worldwide Leader In Sports is willing to give more love to fencing (#12) than NASCAR (#23 for its Craftsman Truck Series) then your sport has an opportunity to make an impact