By Tuale Charles Ajuyah

INTRODUCTION

Being a sports enthusiast, I was elated to see the game between the Super Falcons of Nigeria and the Women’s National Team of Cote d’Ivoire in the AWCON qualifier at the MKO Abiola Stadium sometime in February 2022. To my surprise, the turnout was tepid, although entry was free. The timing of the game was a mitigating circumstance, however, not enough to have a poor turnout.  This got me thinking, was the game poorly advertised? Better still, what was the marketing strategy to ensure even the average person not interested in sports would be incentivized to attend the game?

Then I realized that the various satellite broadband available in Nigeria lack the rights to televise the Nigerian Premier League.

For a country with a sport-crazy, youthful population, it is perplexing to see that the Government, financial houses, product brands, and other commercial entities are not seizing the obvious opportunities that exist. With proper structured Sports Marketing, every stakeholder in sports i.e. the fans, athletes, clubs, leagues, organizers, sponsors, cities, and countries all stand a chance to gain a substantial amount of promotion, exposure, and revenue. Nigerian Breweries have a head start over competitors as they make a substantial amount of money from the advertising of their products through the football league.

As the title suggests, this piece is the first part of a three-part piece delving into the workings of Sports Marketing, with subsequent parts published later. This first part aims to give a baseline understanding of Sports Marketing, the products that exist, and in essence, help realize how opportunities are being underutilized within the subset of the industry.

WHAT IS SPORTS MARKETING?

When we talk of Sports Marketing, the average mind may limit it to selling tickets at arenas or stadia and selling merchandise such as jerseys and customized souvenirs, however in contemporary times marketing of the business of sport, much like every commercial industry, continues to evolve and find ways to satisfy modern demands. The promotion of sport, technology, and introduction of the various legislature over the past decade has led to Sports Marketing to involve an arsenal of commercial and participant activities embedded in Intellectual Property, E-sports, as well as various fan engagement mechanisms. Sports marketing has become one of the most effective marketing strategies. With non-sporting brands paying a lot of money to be associated with sporting platforms i.e. athletes, jerseys, stadia, events, etc. For example Fly Emirates sponsor numerous football club jersey’s, despite being the aviation subsidiary of the Emirates Group

An issue is how promoting non-sport brands relates to sports marketing? Modern marketers realized quickly that there are different dynamics and perspectives to sports marketing, hence accepting that there is a ‘marketing through sports’ realm which is equally as lucrative. This is because commercial firms have sporting brands, organizations, and athletes as a platform to reach and attract more consumers.

Sports marketing could be defined as “the process of designing and implementing activities for the production, pricing, promotion, and distribution of sports products to satisfy the needs or desires of consumers and to achieve the company’s objectives.”[1] This definition can be extended as discussed to include ‘the anticipation, management, and satisfaction of consumers’ wants and needs through the application of marketing principles and practices’[2] this extension recognizes that Marketing through Sports concept exists.

It is vital to understand that sports marketing consists of all activities intended to meet the needs and wants of sports consumers. It is an exchange process that places heavy relevance to brand recognition and loyalty.

WHAT CAN BE PROMPTED THROUGH SPORTS?

Contemporary Sports Marketing certainly entails two important facets.  First is the marketing of actual sports products. Secondly, although more subtly, is the utilization of a Sports platform as the basis for the marketing of non-sports products. To further understand these, both facets would be discussed in turn.

SPORTS PRODUCT

Due to the vast range of Sports products, it is expedient to further sub-divide Sporting products into three: Spectator products, Participation products, and sports fashion and sport-related products.

SPECTATOR PRODUCTS

A major marketing objective of all events with spectators is being sold out. It is a term heard often and a delightful one for sports marketers as it means they have not only achieved expectant returns on ticket sales as well as match-day sales but also have generated profits from fans who opt for other viewing platforms. For example, television options like cable, satellite (DSTV, GoTv Sky, BT). There will also be fans who will be listening via traditional and modern radios. The technology age opened us to internet streaming via product-specific apps (DSTV app, WWE network), illegal streaming sites also carry enormous viewership numbers. All these people are important to Sports marketers as the scope of their work includes increasing viewership and listenership on a range of media options. This has lent itself to marketers entering the age of sport/league-specific channels such as (La Liga TV or WWE Channel) which are devoted to promoting that brand/sport. With this in mind, it is clear that as regards spectator products, marketers now focus their resources towards two audiences, the real-life spectators and those that are media-based. To gain the rewards from spectator products, fans will need to be enticed by the on-the-field/court performances (the product) to go to such lengths to see their favourite teams and athletes.

PARTICIPATION PRODUCTS

There are some recreational activities that people engage in that attract an audience. These activities could be competitive, but even the most lenient person would find it difficult to describe them as real sports. Activities that come to mind are; poker, fishing, darts, chess, weightlifting, and wrestling. The individuals who participate in these activities would not be described as athletes, however, they could have a similar market pull, as a popular induvial who is successful in it, would directly promote the activity whilst promoting the equipment/fashion (clothing or footwear) used for such. An example is the Undertaker, a character who made kids across the globe want to wrestle and dress up like him. Those kids are viewed as ‘participants’ to Sports Marketers, who get their rewards from spectator products revenue (tickets, broadcast revenue) grow, whilst also benefiting from participants buying  products like a chessboard, wrestling gear, etc.) These days an extra benefit is the increase and frequency of numbers of participants in these events and by that, I mean you are more likely to see a chess competition on television than you would have twenty years ago and are also more likely to have a wrestling school in your area than in previous years.

SPORTS FASHION AND SPORTS-RELATED PRODUCTS

Sports fashion relates to sports apparel. These products induce demand for two main reasons. Firstly, people buy them to participate in sporting events, as sports clothes and shoes differ from regular clothing and footwear. Sports fashion evolves in terms of style and specificity of use each year as with all fashion. These days we have special shoes for running, climbing, going on the court for basketball or tennis, etc. Hence at the start of every sports season (competition) the frenzy to get the latest sports fashion is a good time for sports marketers. A second angle is the sheer fact that sports fashion is fashion in certain cases. With people wearing football/basketball jerseys, tracksuits, headbands to social gatherings. As a teenager, I used to try to get the latest “Js” (Air Jordan’s), as it was an unspoken status symbol amongst peers.

Speaking of Nike Air Jordan’s, they revolutionized the Sports Marketing industry as it was the first time an athlete used his status to create a market (Part II of this article would discuss, this concept and how the sports and non-sports products can be maximized to see their potential turn into revenue). Today, almost everyone has one form of sports fashion or another.

Sports-related goods will be divided into two for better understanding. On one hand, the actual sports-related goods like a football, golf club, tennis racket, etc. They are tangible and their use is necessary to participate in their respective sports. Participants and athletes create a market for these goods. Secondly, sports-related products which their sporting use is not apparent. These come from a diverse range including but not limited to fan engagement apps (Fantasy Premier League), match-day programs, sports magazines, sports souvenirs, club scarfs, and a host of others that can be purchased or subscribed to online, at the stadium, or arena, or local retailers. Sports-related products usually suffer the heavy effect of intellectual property theft, however, with prior legal protection, this can be avoided (as discussed in an earlier piece written by myself and an esteemed friend https://thenigerialawyer.com/intellectual-property-and-sports-importance-landmarks-and-current-trends/ )

NON-SPORTS PRODUCT

This category involves non-sporting firms using sporting platforms (athletes, jerseys, clubs, competitions, stadia, etc.) to advertise or market their products. These products cover covers a wide range of commodities like cellular services, fast food, video games, television broadband, and beverages. There can exist a realm where non-sports products could be so synonymous with a sporting platform it can be argued, they classify as sports-related goods. An example is a relationship between Heineken and the UEFA Champions League which it has sponsored since 1994. Individuals purchase a couple of the brand’s drinks to enjoy the game. This is a culture for some.

Sports platforms are also used to create awareness or promote sustainability projects (waste recycling programs), charity projects (Connor’s cure program for cancer patients), or social issues (no to gender violence).

In conclusion, we have learned in this part that the Sports Marketing sphere is very inclusive for both the final consumer and marketers. A wide range of products can be sold and promoted using sports platforms. It is therefore pertinent that Sports Marketers and indeed all forms of marketers are conscious of the constant evolution of the sports industry and understand what products are of importance to their target market and form a strategy that creates revenue for their organization. As stated in the piece, the subsequent part would emphasize maximizing the potential market into revenue.

Tuale Charles Ajuyah, is a lawyer, with interest and experience in Sports Management and Administration.

Contact: ajuyahtuale@hotmail.co.uk

[1] Suggestions for marketing intelligence and planning – Fullerton, Sam; Merz, G Russell; Morgantown Vol. 17, Iss. 2,  (Jun 2008): 90

[2] Supra n1

Book On The Dynamics of Mediation, Negotiation & Arbitration In A Globalized World [Order Your Copy]

Price: ₦15,000 or £20 per copy [Hard Back– 21 chaps/700 pages]: Contact: info@idrinstitute.com, info@adrinafrica.org WhatsApp only: 0803-703-5989 : Voice Call Mobile: 0817-630-8030, 0909-965-1401; 0705-767-0347; 0912-173-4691 : Landline: 09-2913581; 09-2913499

[Now On Sale] Book On “International Arbitration & ADR And The Rule Of Law”

Price: ₦15,000 or £20 per copy [Hard Back– 20 chaps/715 pages] Contact Information Email: info@idrinstitute.cominfo@adrinafrica.org WhatsApp only: 0803-703-5989 Voice Call – Mobile: 0817-630-8030,+234-805-2128-456, +234-909-9651-401 Landline: 09-2913581, +234-9-2913499, +234-9-2919209 Office Address: 50 Julius Nyerere Crescent, [Next To The World Bank], Asokoro, Abuja – Nigeria. Bank Account DetailsBank Name: UBA Plc.; Account Name: International Dispute Resolution Institute; Account Number: 1014072579