The Battle of a Marginal Sport: Rhythmic Gymnastics

After digging deeper and deeper into Marketing I was wondering why the Big 5, Soccer, Basketball,American Football, Cricket and Rugby are so much more present in media and our public life and why they seem so much more popular. There are so many other interesting sports and perhaps even more beautiful sports. With my last post about Social Branding, mainly in Soccer, I realized that other sports are often underrepresented. As I am a Rhythmic Gymnast the marketing inferiority or publicity struck me the hardest. (more…)

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Social Branding

Paris St. Germain is willing to pay $18 Million for David Beckham. What they expect from him? It is not just what Beckham can do on the field that attracts the Paris St. Germain, among others, but what Brand Beckham can do off it.

David Beckham signed one of the largest endorsement deals in professional sports, a $160.8 million lifetime deal with Adidas.

So when you think of David Beckham…you automatically think of Adidas. My team member Anika already touched the topic of branding a little and I would like to extend this a bit and concentrate on Social Branding. (more…)

Social TV

Many people love going to the stadium, to watch their favorite team play. All dressed up, with a beer in their hand, flags, scarves and just enjoying the atmosphere of the game. Others prefer to rather stay at home and watch the game on their TV with popcorn and in their warm and cozy living room, without being soaked with beer during the ecstasy of a goal and ending up deaf because of the loud cheering. For the “coach-potatoes” there is a new innovation called Social TV.

What is Social TV?

James Warren describes Social TV as the “ mass online collaborative experienced that occur in real time during TV broadcasts, extending the viewing experience beyond the google box and towards interaction with the social media.”

It is nothing new following a game via Facebook or Twitter. Whether following a game via TV or Livestream doesn’t matter, anymore says Julian Gradke.

The video below is an example of Social TV during the Copa America Soccer Tournament.

According to Julian Gradke, there might be a time when Smartphones and Tablet PC’s completly replace the TV, by simply following the sport over Facebook or Twitter.

New Innovations

An example for Social TV is the Application Zeebox in the UK, presented by Blogger Martin Bryant. Zeebox combines a UK TV guide with social features. You can log in with Facebook and see what your friends are watching and when celebrities talk about a show or program on twitter. Once you tap on the show can see the cast list, the latest tweets and news about it and a chart tracking popularity.

Here the Promo Video of Zeebox:

My opinion

Social TV can be a nice possibility to follow your team and live your passion where ever you are; whether on the train, waiting for the bus etc. But personally I think I wouldn’t be to fond of it. Firstly, because everybody wouldn’t get their nose away from their smartphone or tablet PC and secondly because the relaxation of sitting on the couch and enjoying a nice game of soccer while others are running around like crazy would be lost.

Social Networks in Sport

While I was busy researching my next blog post about branding in sport I fell over so many discussions about social networks and sport, that I decided to dedicate an own post to that topic and to squeeze in a post about the impact of social networks on sports first.

I would like to refer to Alina’s Blogpost “Social Platforms and Sport” as she introduces the topic Social Networks in Sport, which is a great base for my following blogpost.

Emotionalizing the Sport is the Main Issue

According to Daniel Rehn, in his Blog sportmanager.de, the objective of Social Networks in Sport is to make the athletes and teams reachable, emotionalize and create a familiar atmosphere.

That is the main objective of Social Media; to include the fans into the daily activities of the team and make them feel like they are a part of the team.

Fans are the most important thing for every sport, so the athletes have to attract the fans and give something back to them; an insight into their life, how they train and what motivates them. But embracing themselves can also lead to scandals and of course involvement by the athletes leads to involvement by the fans, not everybody can cope with it. Staying authentic, differentiating oneself from others and staying interesting turns into a game, is said in Daniel Rehn’s post “Die Vier am Eck – Gedanken zu Social Media und Sport #16”.

So the main question, according to Andy Pawlowski, should be: “What is it that we see and hear that we can offer to others so that they connect with us and feel what we feel, even when they aren’t physically with us?”

An astonishing Example

One case really astonished me and gave an insight on how far social media are influencing sport already. According to Daniel Rehn, a mexican first league soccer team replaced the names of their players with their twitter nicknames. Another example is FC Valencia that replaced the logo of a missing sponsor with their Twitter Channel.

My First Steps

When I heard that we have to create a blog, I was very enthusiastic about the topic sport and was very happy that our group has so many different people and different Sport interests.

Stumbling along the way

After I started my first topic with Commercialization and Money in Soccer, I realized that I have a passion for Marketing. I decided to move away from my first ideas and dug a little deeper into the topic of Marketing. I have always wondered why Rhythmic Gymnastics is not as popular as Soccer? Are Gymnasts worse athletes? Are they not as dedicated? I think it is not just a matter of a large fan base…it is a matter of Marketing.

So I started to randomly search the internet, whether webpages or blogs, to get an idea of the dimensions of Marketing and saved all the interesting posts and ideas on Evernote.

Fighting Fears

In the beginning I was rather scared that I wouldn’t find any links to IT, but after researching my first few blogs and gaining a certain basis of knowledge on the topics, I realized that Social Media are one of the greatest Marketing tools today. As social media enables fans to really live their passion and follow the news and day-to-day activities not only about TV or Radio, but can even connect to them via Facebook or Twitter. It is a completely new dimension…

Getting the Link

So thats what my next post is going to be about. I came to Social Media in sport after I found a great blog, treating only topics in Marketing and Social Media in Sports. I found the blog after reading an interview with the author that immediately caught my attention.

The blog sportmanager.de has been a great innovation to my research work and got me so interested in Marketing and Social Media, that I couldn’t stop continue reading the posts. The blog led my to other blogs and twitter accounts that had amazing ideas on Marketing in Sports and especially concerning Social Media.

Future Out-sights

For the blogs after Social Networks in Sports I plan to stay in the Marketing Sector and perhaps get a little more into my sport, Rhythmic Gymnastics, and perhaps compare it to other sports and why such a beautiful sport is so underrepresented…

Continuance: Marketing in Sport

Scandal is inevitable.

What was inevitable is that the desire to win overrides any ideas of personal or corporate ethics. This need, constantly pushed on athletes, coaches and administrators clouds judgement and justifies appalling behaviors. What was inevitable is that scandalous corruption was coming to sport — because there is too much money, claims James Connor.

According to Connor, Children are plucked from the masses and selected into pathway or talent programs. They end up being coached, trained and played till they either break or make it into an elite team.

Marketing Machine

Winning a premiership guarantees further sponsorship for your team, the brand grows and more money is sucked into the system, says James Connor, and the influence of corporate control and sponsorship, where making money and exploiting your players and fans is the only option, is undeniable.

The commercial potential of sport celebrities is defined by their popular images, drawing from their achievements such as athletic ability and performance. Sponsor organizations therefore associate with the image of the celebrity in the hope that the favorable brand image of the celebrity will rub off on their image, says Ohanian.

Sport Down-Under thinks that a celebrity with multiple sponsors, and all those  sponsors speak to a different target market of those sponsors. If the celebrity manager is smart, they will select sponsors that cover varying demographics. Sport Down-Under states the example : “Guys want to be him, girls want to have him” is always better than “Guys want to be him, girls don’t know who he is.”

Scandal is inevitable

Connor believes that this drive to win, be the best and beat the opposition inevitably leads to temptation. Combine that with the corporate imperative to make a profit – the pressure becomes immense. The spirit of sport is money — gone are the ideals, claims Connor.

As soon as money enters sport we see corruption, whether it is the IOC, rugby league or Twenty20.

How do they promote themselves?

According to Mark, Blogs, SEO, Search and social networks are at the heart of Internet Marketing 2.0, and they can help you promote your business to the masses, a key trait in the world of Social and Business networking.

Lauren Drell claims that another great way to market sport are social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. The passion of the fans makes them a perfect audience for Facebook and Twitter— they crave interaction with the team and will gladly engage in  communication. Even if the fans can’t come to a game the person marketing the team should make sure that those who are left at home still feel like they’re in the crowd. There should be a constant update on what the team is doing as well as upcoming events.

My opinion

I believe that social networks are a great way to change and give a certain image to a company. They can “communicate” with certain age groups and target groups and take advantage of the passion of fans for their sport. The popularity of sport is a great stage to market products or services as millions of people watch a high class soccer game or follow their team on Facebook, twitter or on special applications on their cellphones. Athletes become brands…

Continuance: Money and Commercialization in Soccer

Whether buying a whole Premiere League Soccer Club for 136 Million Pounds, earning 23.2 Million Pounds salary per year or being considered worth more than 90 Million Euros…In soccer we talk about the most incredible amounts of money.

Already commercialized in the past?

According to Gabriel Kuhn, many leading clubs were exploited by companies and factory owners, at least for prestige. So the increasing commercialization in the twentieth century was not a result of an external force but of intrinsic logic.

Kuhn claims, that over the last twenty years, the commercialization has taken on momentum. Champions leagues, multi billion dollar TV contracts, celebrity players, a ruthless merchandising industry that doesn’t stop selling and marketing corporate-sponsored jerseys are all an expression of this.

Soccer: Show Business?

Dirk Zingler, President of Union Berlin emphasizes this; “Flag wavers, cardboard clappers and goal music- football has become show business.”

As Dr. Jacques Rogge, President of the IOC is quoted from the IOC website, “Without the support of the business community, without its technology, expertise, people, services, products, telecommunication, its financing — the Olympic Games…cannot happen. Without this support, the athletes cannot compete and achieve their very best in the world’s best sporting event.” This can be transferred to all the other sports as well and every sport has its price usually it is advertising, which makes it possible for companies to identify themselves with a certain club, for example, and appear to a certain target group as well as publicize themselves. http://www.olympic.org/

According to Mark Fisher, quoted by blogger Ben Jeffrey, the price of success just is the ballooning wages, the de-nationalization, the conspicuous consumption of the top-class players and the ruthlessness of clubs where loyalty counts for little if it doesn’t pay.

Exploitation or Benefit? 

The commercialization of football has yielded immense benefits for fans, in terms of infrastructure, quality of play and global coverage to cover the passion for their loved sport, claims Ben Jeffrey.

The number of wireless smartphone owners, who have downloaded an app nearly doubled in the past two years, from 22% in September 2009 to 38% in August 2011, with sports apps belonging to the most common downloaded apps, believes Hugh Thompson.

Given this rapid adoption of smartphones by average consumers, Pat Coyle was curious to see if social sports fans were adopting smartphones at similar rates. Turns out they’re not. Sports fans adopting smart phones much faster the mainstream average. In some cases, 9 of 10 fans already have smartphones. So for any sports marketer who didn’t get out of bed this morning thinking about smartphones should take this as their wake up call, says Pat Coyle.

One example, named by Samantha Goldberg, is the ESPN ScoreCenter an app that had about 1.7 million daily unique visitors in the past three months.

My opinion

These apps might cost little, but they sum up to amazing sums. I must admit that I have quite some on my phone as well. The marketing strategies and the merchandising strategies used by sport clubs and federations can be considered perfectionised. There is nothing we can’t get today; soccer apps, playstation games to simulate a mangers life or the life of a celebrity soccer player…there are no limits.

              

Sports, Commercialization and Money

Whether earning $120 Million a year, traveling to a different country every week, earning millions just for having their face in a magazine or tv advertisement, getting payed for wearing the newest clothes or be a present figure in news, newspapers and magazines…money clearly matters in sport.


Move away from traditional sport

Robert Colls from the Leicester University claims in an interview that we are at the culmination of a relentless move away from what used to be the ideals of sport. According to him, earlier games were not played with a ruthless desire to win and make money and supporters were still loyal to their local teams and not large brands.

But is that such a recent Development?

According to Robert Colls sport has always been closely related to wealth and cultural capital. “To ‘sport’ used to mean to have fun, and those who had the most money usually had the most fun.”, says Robert Colls.

Colls thinks the crucial point is the difference between professionalism and commercialism. Commercialism represents the business model where all, identities, cultures and economies are lowered to the lowest possible denominator in order to allow corporations to buy and sell sports on the widest possible market. Professionalism is getting paid for doing something well.

“Fans are encouraged to commit to the brand through the sport, which is itself being turned into a brand.”, claims Robert Colls.

The Sport Market

According to blogger Karan Singh, the commercialization of sport is not a cultural development but a product of unique technical, social, and economic circumstances.

DANIQUE1217 claims that nowadays athletes are commodities, sport teams are traded on a market, sponsorships exceed millions and television stations pay a lot of money to broadcast games.

My Opinion

Personally I believe that commercialization of sport has its advantages and disadvantages, but today it has become inevitable. For the professional athletes it has become a profession, for countries part of their culture, for fans the essence of their lives and for the media the most important five minutes at the end of their show.

Sport has turned into a market adapted to our globalized world. Before the globalization sport might have been free time entertainment for those who could afford it, today absolute nobodies coming from the slums can become great soccer players and great athletes. Through commercialization sport has become available to everybody. The success, reported on by the media, inspires others to play sports and do their best.