The History Of Sports Marketing
As tickets for the London Olympics go on sale, John Gladwin, co-founder of InMotion Sport, All About Brands’ sports marketing division, explores the continuing love affair between sport, consumers and brand managers
Sport has a global reach. It’s accessible to all and understood by all, but above all else, it evokes emotional highs and lows in us like no other form of entertainment. For the right brand, an association with something that powerful is highly desirable.
The value of linking sports with brands has been understood for well over a hundred years, which is why sports marketing is not the new phenomenon...
...people might believe it is.
Tobacco cards, featuring the baseball stars of the day, first appeared in the 1870s, but the real growth in sports marketing is inextricably linked to the rise in TV coverage of sport over the last 60 or 70 years.
The first major League Baseball game was televised in 1939 and helped make Babe Ruth the first six-figure athlete in professional sport.
For the Berlin Olympics of 1936, Adi Dassler provided spikes free of charge to the sprinter Jesse Owens. In its early years, sports marketing was purely about product placement and building product credibility, and it wasn’t until the late 70s and early 80s that the use of sports as a marketing tool really started to capture the collective corporate imagination.
While sports sponsorship is primarily concerned with brand awareness, sports marketing is about activating sponsorship contracts. In its purest form, it is about creating a connection between the symbol and the brand and communicating this to the consumer.
Since the early 1980s, the use of sport to market products and services has grown phenomenally. The popularity of sport and resulting sports coverage meant that sports stars were able to capture the hearts and minds of... continued on page two >