The Past & Future Of Sports In Video

Over the last few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about sports marketing, and this past weekend I was reminded of why: the emotions tied to sports are palpable and real, and they are the kind of emotions that brands can only dream of being associated with.

It’s really simple, if you think about it.  Try and find one other area of life where the emotions are as high or as passionate as they are with sports.  I’ll go out on a limb and say that sports only come second to birth and death when you consider their emotional ramifications. It’s not uncommon for diehard sports fans to be as excitable and enthusiastic when talking about their favorite baseball or football team as when you hear a parent talk about the birth of their children or the memories of their parents when they’ve passed on.  It taps into the same emotional core in our brains, and it creates lifelong associations.

It’s not realistic to assume that household cleansers or shampoos can create that same emotional connection, but it is extremely plausible that brands want their consumers to have a strong, positive association with their brands, which is why sports sponsorship is such a tricky business.  Sports sponsorships require a brand to engage in a trusting, long-term relationship, because you have to have faith that the athlete will stay relevant, and on the right side of the ethical mores that society puts forth for people in the public eye.

Athletes are aspirational as well as inspirational, meaning that we can all aspire to be like them (for example, as self-confident as Tim Tebow).  They are also fatally human, meaning they are only as good as the best or worst of us (see so many examples of mistakes from athletes in recent years).  It may not be fair to place athletes on a pedestal and hold them to a higher standard, but that's what we do, and it's why sports sponsorships exist.  There is high associative value to working with athletes, paying them significant money for the privilege of transferring their positive brand equity to our brands.

If you think of the best sports marketing images of the last 50 years, you think of the images of strength and confidence that come from a truly inspirational sports figure.  I think of Mean Joe Green in the Coke commercial.  I think of Michael Jordan in the Nike spots flying through the air.  I even think of  humor (when it’s done right), like the Peyton Manning Mastercard commercials. In all these ads, brands were able to harness the power of sports to differentiate themselves in the eyes of consumers.  That differentiation translates to sales.

What's really interesting to me about sports marketing is that it would not have existed without television -- and its future is indelibly tied to online video. Sports is a physical and visual medium. You have to be playing sports to understand the physicality involved, and you have to see others play sports to learn about it and understand it fully.  If TV had never been invented, the NFL would be nowhere near as popular as it is, and the NBA and Major League Baseball would be half the size they are today.  Television created a way for everyone to see sports without having to physically be there, and the images you see on those broadcasts have inspired millions of people to pick up a bat or ball and play.  Those images are inspirational, and online video is going to extend them even further. 

Social and mobile media are the future of sports marketing.  With the use of mobile video, and sharing video through social platforms, these images can take on a life of their own.  The more those images, in all of their video glory, can be shared and seen by droves of fans, the more impact they will have, and the more opportunity there is for a brand to reach a passionate audience. Television (in a close second with the actual stadium) is never going away and will always be the primary vehicle for sports marketing, but digital media has one heck of a future for sports marketing as well.  Just you wait and see!

Tags: marketing, sports, tv
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2 comments about "The Past & Future Of Sports In Video".
  1. Stanford Crane from NewGuard Entertainment Corp , February 8, 2012 at 10:32 a.m.
    You are right about sports, although for some, religion and war would easily top sports.
  2. Mike Mcgrath from RealXstream PTY LTD , February 14, 2012 at 12:10 a.m.
    Cory, I have been following your posts for many years. They are often relevant to me as an online video entrepreneur but this post is particularly relevant because in 2001 video was the key vehicle which allowed my sky-surfing team to deliver on the most successful sponsorship in Australian Skydiving history. http://video.au.msn.com/watch/video/this-ones-for-the-thrill-seekers-checkout-the-sky-surfing-xpression-session/x9h3y2c It was my experience as part of a self managed sponsored team that sparked the entrepreneur in me to create an online video company, RealXstream, to extend the niche audience for skydiving from the ten's of thousands of sport skydivers, first to the millions of people who try this themselves for the first time and then to their social networks. We do this by sharing their first time experience around the world as quickly as possible through online video. http://www.skydivethebeach.com.au/customer-videos?videoID=hlw4r2gkjnu2pmen After each customer video we then aim to present the best of skydiving from around the world. In this way we can use the long-tail to develop an audience for professional content from the head and at the same time we use the professional content to market to more first timers. A few years ahead of our time, we have had our share of ups and downs, but it seems that with 2012 being the year of online video that 10 years of work is finally going to come to fruition.