By Tuale Charles Ajuyah

In the preceding part of this series, the various integration strategies employed to market in the world of Sport were put under the microscope. The paper focused primarily on: Traditional Strategies and Sponsorship strategies. In Sports Marketing, this is crucial. The final part of this series will be analyzing how marketers have used the various marketing integration strategies along with the various array of sports and non-sport product options to yield clearly defined concepts of the dimensions in which modern Sports marketing exists. It entails how sports marketers look to create a sporting guise to engage their target markets in each level of the 4Ps of the marketing mix (Promotion, Product, Pricing, and Placement). These dimensions are theme-based, product-based, sports-based, and alignment-based dimensions. This piece looks to simplify and clarify these four concepts.

Theme-Based Dimension.

This can be described as using traditional marketing strategies and incorporating sports themes into the marketing program for non-sports products. In this dimension, the marketer can decide to use sports-related media to efficiently reach consumers. Fundamentally, the marketer’s efforts are not based on a legally binding relationship with a sports personality/platform. For example, MTN advertising in a sports magazine or during a TV broadcast of the Premier League means that they have incorporated sports at a basic level. This dimension represents the lowest of all four dimensions.

Theme-based methods have been used to introduce sports to the marketing mix. For products, sports themes can be incorporated to provide significance to customers. For instance, ‘Viewing centres’ use the premise of showing televised sports in exchange for patronizing their food and drinks. Fashion brands create sports motifs to lure people to the product. Packaging is an integral part of the product strategy, some marketers employ the use of sports design or motifs to lure customers.

Sporting guise can be incorporated into promotional exertions for a range of non-sports products. For instance, TV advertisements that feature children being treated to a trip to a favourite fast-food restaurant after winning a tournament game or commercials signifying that viewers get more enjoyment from watching sports when they watch it via a brand of high definition TV all illustrate the use of a theme-based approach.

Creating a sporting guise as regards pricing can be difficult to ascertain. A popular illustration is for hotels, restaurants, and bars to offer discounted prices for patrons holding a ticket to a particular sports event.

The final element of the marketing mix is the distribution placement (or place) strategy. The food industry has been active and lucrative by its ability to achieve a placement point at several sports venues across the globe for example the Hard Rock Café at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada. Marketers of alcoholic beverages have also sought to have their products available at sports venues.

It is vital to note that the five elements of marketing strategy are not mutually exclusive. The idea is not which element to use; rather, it is to develop and integrate target marketing, product, promotion, pricing, and placement strategies to capitalize on the prospects created by the sports industry while circumventing the high costs of sponsorship.

Notably, many firms have implemented strategies that are referred to as ambush marketing. This involves a non-sponsor developing a scheme that generates the false impression that it is an official sponsor of a sports property. The increment in sponsorship fees has led to the increase in the rise of ambushing.

Product-Based Dimensions

A marketer looking to utilize traditional marketing strategies with no official relationship with a sporting entity to market sports products is operating in a product-based dimension. These strategies may or may not encompass a sports theme beyond the product offering. For instance, a local shoe marketer could offer a discount for sports footwear to encourage consumers ahead of the new season. The footwear can be sold anytime, but the marketer has capitalized on the season coming up without having an official relationship with a sports entity. It is vital to understand that such strategies are not achieved exclusively by a marketer’s promotional efforts. Another example is a sporting goods retailer that gives free caps at a basketball game to create awareness of its brand. The question then would be; how can a marketer influence consumer into buying products at various levels of the marketing mix?

A good example of operating in a product-based domain and influencing a target market would be advertising women’s football in vogue magazine. There are numerous samples of product decisions. The SuperSport provides a pidgin-Language broadcast for its local audience in Nigeria during international tournaments. Marketers of spectator sports these days have a new cash cow in terms of the luxury boxes/VIP seats at major arenas. These seats are usually sold at exuberant rates but are like a status symbol for the super-wealthy, hence you see people like Spike Lee in the front row of Knicks games, or when Tom Brady went to Old Trafford earlier this year (2022).

There are many promotions used to sell sports products. Examples abound from the use of TV ads, the use of the Internet, direct mail campaigns, and the use of local newspaper ads by various marketers. One of the more popular techniques amongst Sports clubs is the giveaways that are deliberate to boost attendance and encourage relationships such as Leicester City giving away free beer to their fans for the home games at the King Power stadium. Recently, boxing organizers have auctioned the VIP tickets in a bid to raise prestige and revenue.

In this dimension, pricing decisions do not always involve discounted ticket prices. Marketers still have to pay attention to the media-based audiences of various kinds who watch and listen to the event. The pricing of Sports fashion is also vital in this dimension.

Placement of spectator sports products in recent times has experienced the highest demand, with access to tickets now no longer available at just the arena but over the internet and print at home or third-party firms who help sell tickets. Individual sporting organizations have done well to introduce team dedicated networks (Real Madrid TV, or sport dedicated network (WWE network). The growth of satellite radio has also provided another placement outlet, for example, Brila FM gives live updates of matches during football matches. A massive innovation over the past decade is the advent of audio and video streaming services such as the DSTV app.

From there, it is obvious that marketers of each group of sports products will seek to implement traditional strategies that will permit them to take advantage of the marketplace’s opportunities.

Alignment-Based Dimensions

As the name implies, many non-sports products and marketers align themselves with sports platforms via any of the four forms of sponsorship (traditional sponsorships, venue naming rights, endorsements, and licensing agreements) discussed in the previous article: SPORTS  MARKETING II ).

This dimension is the highest level of integration of non-sports products into the sporting world. A popular approach involves a sponsor using a relationship with a sports entity to market non-sports products; this blend emphasizes initiatives that are classified within the alignment-based dimension. For example, McDonald’s advertising and packaging feature its official partnership with the Olympic Games, this was in a bid to promote the games and their fast food.

The task for these marketers of non-sports products is one of the effecting strategic initiatives that allow them to capitalize upon their position within the sports marketing environment. For example with Venue naming rights, the sponsors inevitably have the benefit of offering/selling their products exclusively at the building. For instance, all the ATMs in Comerica Park belong to Comerica Bank.

It is significant to reiterate the fact that each of the examples described represents a marketer’s effort to sell non-sports products. However, they reflect a very high level of integration of sports within the marketing strategy. This is realized through the use of some form of sponsorship that ties the marketer to some important sports entity.

Sports Based Dimensions

This dimension is symbolized by official sponsors of a sports property selling other sports products. It reflects the greatest reliance on sports-oriented initiatives due to the role of sports in both the product and integration dimensions.

The common strategy features the marketer of sporting goods or sports apparel in a traditional sponsorship of a sports team or a sporting event. For example, Adidas sells sporting goods and it uses advertising that supplements its traditional sponsorship of FIFA and the World Cup. This regularity produces the synergy that is characteristic of the sports-based domain. An example that features a traditional sponsorship would be Adidas and Real Madrid. The difference in sponsorship lies in the type of property with which the sponsor is aligned. In the former case, Adidas is sponsoring an event whereas, in the latter, the marketer is sponsoring the most famous team. In such arrangements, the sponsors’ contracts naturally provide them with rights to sell officially licensed merchandise and to gain the services of key players for endorsements.

Marketers of sporting products usually employ three forms of sponsorship in this domain. For instance, Reebok has venue naming rights for the home stadium of Bolton Wanderers (Reebook stadium). Endorsements for sports products that use athletes as spokespersons represent the best examples of the sports-based dimension, for example, Nike and Michael Jordan both mutually earn millions off their endorsement relationship. In licensing, it is essential to reiterate the point that the other forms of sponsorship may express to the sponsor the right to produce and sell a range of merchandise that features the trademarks, logos, and likenesses of the sponsee.

For each of the aforesaid examples, the synergy stemming from the two sports entities should be evident. As noted, this dimension represents the one with the greatest overall immersion into the world of sports; therefore, it can be extremely effective when the target market is comprised of fans of the sports entity with which the marketer has an official relationship.

It should be noted that in altering an organization’s target market, changes to the marketing mix usually follow suit. The product is modified, the promotion is reformed, the price is adapted, or the placement strategy is improved to enhance work in accord with the efforts to reach a new target market

In conclusion, throughout this series, on Sports Marketing, we have taken an in-depth look into what is meant by sports marketing, the various products, strategies employed, and the dimensions of the Sports industry. Sports marketing is enormously profitable and can be made to yield such rewards in Nigeria if the right minds are allowed the environment to drive such innovative ambitions.

Tuale Charles Ajuyah, is a Sports Manager/Administrator, legal practitioner, and mediator. He is the CEO of Racks Race Sports, dealing with various issues that the sporting industry entails, including but not limited to finance, agency, marketing, organization and governance, strategy, marketing, business planning, event management and the promotion of sporting culture and ethics.

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