Friday, September 28, 2012

Leaving your Mark: don’t let pay dictate your effort

For purposes of understanding this piece better, it might make sense to explain my role at Drexel first.  Primarily, I am responsible for developing jobs for Co-op students and graduating seniors in Business, Engineering, IT, and Sport Management.  However, the other major part of my position entails working with Drexel Sport Management undergraduate students to prepare them for their Co-op opportunities and their career in the sports industry.
What we have experienced as I’m sure most of you can attest to is that Co-ops and internships in sports are rarely paid and when they are, they are paid minimum wage (or with a stipend).  For the most part, it is a supply and demand situation.  If you don’t want the unpaid or low-paying job, there is a line out the door of people who will take the job.  It isn’t fair and for lack of a better reaction, it does stink, however, it is what it is.
Much like careers in movies, TV, and music, the sports industry is one that is hard to break into because of the obscene amount of interest that people have in working in these industries.  In case you were wondering, those that look for Co-ops and internships in those industries get paid the same, less, or not at all as compaired to the sports industry.  So while it would be somewhat wrong of me to say be happy with that minimum wage-paying Co-op or internship in sports…be happy.
The reason for that background has to do with conversations I have had with students over the last three and a half years at Drexel.  When students take on unpaid or low-paying positions in sports, some of them feel like they don’t need to give 100% (I’m not even asking for 110%!).  I’ll meet with a student who gets a poor evaluation or was even on the verge of being fired during their experience and their rationale to me is, “Well, I was unpaid so it isn’t a big deal.  If I was getting paid, I would’ve done better.”  My response- that is the wrong attitude to have and you have to understand the big picture. That reaction is very short-sighted an very immature.
Whether paid or unpaid, this is trial employment for the employer and essentially a long-term interview.  You aren’t just free (or cheap) labor to them.  Frankly, anyone can perform well when incentivized by money but it is a true test of your character to impress when you are intrinsically motivated. 
Think of the potential non-monetary payoffs as:
·         Skills that you acquired (hard and soft skills)
·         Relationships that you developed and the network of contacts that you established
·         A reference for future jobs at this or another potential future company
·         A resume-builder which shows non-academic projects and responsibilities (real world, practical experience)
·         Potentially higher starting salary than those who have not completed a Co-op or internship

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Upon Further Review: Navigating Networking Events

Last Wednesday night I attended the Philly Sports Networking Night at Xfinity Live, and it is extremely important for everyone to look out for these sorts of opportunities.  For those just beginning their ascent through the sports industry ranks, these kinds of events are vital.  There are not too many opportunities to be able to go out and meet industry-established professionals and get your name out there.  Here I caught up with industry friends that I’ve made and also met new people.  I was skeptical at first, but networking events truly are extremely beneficial. 

Some of the well represented entities at the event were Comcast-Spectacor and Turnkey Sports & Entertainment.  I attended the event with Hayley, SMTSU’s Director of Marketing and Outreach.  We went into it with a rough plan that I would introduce her to the people that I co-oped with at Comcast-Spectacor and she would introduce me to the people that she co-oped with at Turnkey.  The plan worked well and we also met some people from outside of the two companies. 

As Mark Gress mentioned a few weeks ago in his preview for the event, it is also beneficial to go in with a plan or some goals.  I didn’t want to set a goal of handing out 10 business cards or something like that because I’d rather it just happen naturally.  Plus if I was stuck at 9 and just trying to get to 10, I would have felt like the scene in Super Troopers where they pull the car over on the highway and the guys has to say “meow” 10 times in the stop but was only at 9 and he added one last “meow” in as he was walking away from the car to get to 10. 

If you have already had a little experience in the industry, then I would try the plan that Hayley and I used.  Start with people you know and then people that the person you go with knows.  It’s less awkward than just walking up to random people and striking up a conversation.  If you know somebody there that is already established in the industry, then ask that person to introduce you to some people that they know!

One of the many beauties of the sports industry is how competitive it is to get established in but also that the people already in it are willing to help those trying to break in.  These networking events are the perfect example.  If you are reading this blog, then you are trying to break into sports.  If you are trying to break into sports, then you have to attend networking events to get to know the people in the industry.  If it is outside of your personal comfort zone (like it was for me), then just try it out!  You may like it, and the benefits far outweigh any qualms you may have about them before you try it.

Follow Kevin Rossi on Twitter @kevin_rossi.

Global Scope: Sports Marketing

Marketing campaigns are a great way to get fans connected to their favorite players, teams, leagues. Here in the United States it is very common to see teams, leagues and even players create marketing campaigns that serve the purpose of getting closer to the fans. This is nothing new for anyone who follows big time American sports, but for football (soccer) fans in other parts of the Americas it is a totally different reality. Professional sports teams and organizations in Brazil, for example, function in a very amateur form. Since there are very few sports professionals, most executive offices have former players or known figures making decisions that they are probably not prepared to make.

With Brazil winning the bid to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup/2013 Confederations Cup, and the 2016 Olympics there has been a start of a "catching up" phase. Most of the people with resources are looking into sports as possible new investments, and a lot of sport agencies are being created where a market for sports business was barely even existent. Higher education institutions are quickly preparing themselves to offer undergraduate programs in sport management, with professors specializing themselves overseas and then coming back to teach. It was only a matter of time until this "sports business epidemic" caught on over there.

There are two specific cases that were really interesting. One is with a first division club called Botafogo FR from Rio de Janeiro and the other was with EC Vitória, a second division team (on pace to make it back to the first division) from Salvador. The first campaign was a partnership between Botafogo and its athletic equipment sponsor, Puma. They decided to make the team's third option uniforms in gold, instead of the team's traditional colors of black and white. The reason behind it was that it was supposed to be in honor of Botafogo's fans. The team was going to wear it for the first time on September 23rd's match against reigning Brazilian champions Corinthians FC. Puma and Botafogo then decided to get 11 fans that had "season tickets" and give them the chance to watch the game from a special luxury box, with the presence of some former players. However, they also surprised the fans by having 11 flags in the stands with their names on them and the 11 starters for Botafogo that day would play the entire game with the fans' names on the back of their jerseys.
This is the campaign video

The second campaign, and in my opinion one of the best marketing campaigns I've ever heard of, was by EC Vitória, a very prestigious club in the city of Salvador. The team's official colors are red and black, but for this specific campaign they tweaked that a little and became a black and white team. The team's number 1 kit is composed of horizontal thick red and black stripes. For this campaign, the team started out with its four red stripes becoming white, turning the uniform into black and white horizontal stripes. The team partnered with a local blood bank in Salvador and every time the number of blood donors increased a certain amount, one of the stripes would become red again. The results were so impressive that it made the team's biggest rival, EC Bahia also from Salvador, want to do something similar. The local blood bank was receiving thousands of fans coming in with one of the two team's jerseys, and the rival fans admitted to going because of the campaign. Now, EC Bahia's marketing department is working on a new marketing venture to dive into and make their fans proud as well. 

This is the campaign video (unfortunately only in portuguese, but still interesting just to have a feel from it)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Players vs. League: Who deserves the greener pastures?

Money. Money. Money. Money. Everything in today's world is affected, twisted, and skewed by pieces of paper. Actually, when it matters most, it is just imaginary pieces of paper represented by numbers on a balance sheet. Why do people watch a sporting event? Whose name do the fans cheer in the stands? Whose jerseys and tee-shirts do these fans buy? Whose faces are used in commercials and advertisements to market events and games? The same word can answer all of these questions: Players, the men and women that train their whole lives to play the game that they love. Not only are their lives defined by the game that they play and the years of preparation it takes to play at a high level, but the sport IS their lives.

On September 15th, 2012, the National Hockey League's (NHL) Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with its players expired. Why, you may ask, would the players and owners allow this to happen? Money. Who is at fault? That is the million dollar question (ignore the pun), but in my opinion it is the owners and the executives of the NHL. Without the talent on the ice nothing would be possible; the hundreds of millions of dollars earned per year by each team would be non-existent. Yes, the reason that players play in the NHL is because the North American market is the most lucrative for sporting events in the world, and players have the highest earning potential in this league, but with growing leagues looking for stars to propel them into the next echelon, the NHL better act fast and in the players' best interest.

The Kontinental Hockey League, which is an international professional hockey league founded in 2008 in Eurasia, has already signed a handful of players from NHL teams for as long as the lockout continues, including perennial all-stars Evgeni Malkin and Alex Ovechkin. With a less structured and restrictive governing body in the KHL, stars like these two may find a comfort level where they are treated like royalty and never find themselves back on the ice in the NHL. Losing talent like this to a foreign league means the loss of millions of dollars in revenues for both the individual team ownership and the NHL as a whole.

Gary Bettman, Commissioner of the National Hockey League

A quick outline of what the NHL has requested to be included in the new CBA:
  • Reduction of the players' share of the hockey related revenue (HRR) form 57% to 46%.
    • That would mean the owners would make 54% of all hockey related revenues acquired by the NHL while they sit in their press boxes and drink their wine.
  • To set a limit of 5 years on all new players' contracts.
    • Some may argue that this benefits the player as they are able to then negotiate a new contract sooner, but I say no. This not only hurts the player by making them trading cards for the teams management, but more importantly it hurts the fans who will not be able to cling to players as much as they would because of the fear losing them sooner.
  • Extend entry level contracts from 3 years to 5 years.
    • Why would a star player coming out of high school, college or juniors want to sign a contract where they are making a tenth of what they could be making in other professional leagues?
  • Extend qualification for unrestricted free agency from 7 years to 10 years in the league.
    • Any player who holds a contract in the NHL for 7 years deserves the right to not be a puppet at the hands of the NHL.
In conclusion, what the NHL and the owners are proposing is absolutely ridiculous. Slowly the sport of hockey is being taken away from those who love it most, the athletes and the fans, and being driven not by those who it affects the most, but by those who want to make $150 million a year instead of $120 million a year. The sick politics that rule the sport spectrum in 2012 disgust me, and the owners of these teams should be happy that the athletes are willing to offer them 47% of the money that the players earned by their on ice achievements. I hope the NHL wises up quick and realizes that they are the ones with less opportunity for rebuilding if they continue to be hard-headed regarding discussions with the NHLPA and understand who it is that drives the revenue of the National Hockey League.

A Different Kind of Gripe on the Replacement Refs

image via Big League Sports
Before yesterday's round of NFL games, the NFLPA Executive Committee sent a letter to the NFL owners regarding the need for the league to come to an agreement with the officials. The performance of the replacement officials has been very well publicized, and any fan who has watched an NFL game this season has witnessed a noticeable decline in the quality of officiating. You can read the NFLPA's letter over at Deadspin. While I agree with many of the points therein, there is one topic of conversation  on which I'd like to voice my dissent. 

One of the recurring themes brought up as a result of the officials' lockout is the need for the replacements to "take control of the game". The NFLPA's letter states: "Coaches and players have complained of numerous errors and failures including: erratic and missed calls on egregious holds and hits, increased skirmishes between players and confusion about game rules. Many replacements have lost control of games due to inexperience and unfamiliarity with players and rules." Of course, penalizing players for such skirmishes will reduce the frequency of their occurrence, but shouldn't it be the on the players and coaches to stop the skirmishes first and foremost? Why is there a need to push and shove between plays? What's so rewarding about it that players will take advantage of every chance to get away with it? And why is maintaining order in this manner something a coach can complain about when he is supposed to be controlling his own players? I struggle to see how this responsibility falls squarely on the refs' shoulders.

This is obviously just one point brought up about the replacement refs, and I think we can all agree that while they are no gold standard themselves, bringing the real refs back as soon as possible will do wonders for returning the quality of NFL games to a level we are all used to. Here's hoping. 

-Dan Mullin

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Full Court Press: Official Replacement

The lockout of NFL referees seems to be at a stalemate, and not beneficial for any side of the equation. The NFLRA is distraught with the contractual changes the NFL has proposed because it strips the referees of benefits for their families that have been promised to them. The NFL, who doesn’t seem to be losing any money or sleep with the situation, is not making any moves to prompt conversations. The players and coaches are thoroughly upset with the issues of the replacement ref’s and their effect on the outcome of games. Fans at home are disappointed with the product on the field, the delay in game-play, and complete blown calls throughout these past two weeks. The media personnel may be the only beneficiaries to this difficult situation, as journalists and executives are using the Twitter sphere to poke fun at the referees.

It is clear after only two weeks of the regular season that there are major issues to be assessed with the replacement officials. I don’t believe the NFL ever anticipated the learning curve associated with stepping in to the position. It seems they thought anyone could be a referee, and they underestimated the talent level of their current officials. As they continue to take more criticism and Roger Goodell fails to make a big move, the integrity of the league suffers.

It’s entirely possible that it will just take time for the replacement referee’s to adjust to the many rule differences between the NFL and collegiate football, and they will soon start to make calls quicker and more efficiently, continuing to reduce their errors as well. Unfortunately, the possibility is all too likely that the NFL officials will continue to holdout and not return for a significant amount of time, if not the whole season. If that’s the case, we’ll just have to hope the replacements don’t make the drastic mistakes that determined the outcomes of numerous games so far. They’ll have to tighten up their restrictions to keep the game safe for its players, and still exciting for its fans. 


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

UFC 152

This weekend UFC fans finally get to see Jon Jones try to defend his title for the fourth time.  He will be fighting one of my favorite fighters of all time Vitor Belfort.  This is the first UFC event in over a month and the first event after the cancelling of UFC 151.  For those of you that are not big fans of MMA UFC 151 was cancelled after Dan Henderson got injured and was unable to fight.  Chael Sonnen stepped up on eight days notice to fight but Jones declined.  Without a title fight the fight card was too weak and Dana White had to cancel an event for the first time in UFC history.  

UFC 152 also has a very weak card but the title fight has potential to be an amazing fight.  Belfort is fighting in a title fight for the second time in a year and a half.  His last title shot came against Anderson Silva in February 2011.  Belfort was KO’ed in the first round of that fight.  He hopes to have a much better showing this time.

Belfort has had a lot of success lately even though he is getting up there in age.  He is 35 years old but has a record of 21-9 and has won 7 of his last 8 fights with five of those wins being by KO or TKO.  Grappling has been Belfort’s best weapon winning half of his fights by submission.  

Jones coming into the fight has a record of 16-1 with his one loss being a DQ for an illegal elbow.  He is also much younger than Belfort only being 25 years old.  Jones will have the reach advantage and has superior wrestling skills to counter Belfort’s Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  Only three of Jones fights have ever gone to decision.

If Belfort were fighting Jones in his prime I believe that this fight would have been a very explosive quick fight where it was anyone’s call who would win but right now I believe Jones is unbeatable and will win this fight in the second round by TKO.  Jones has the advantage in every category except for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  If Belfort could take Jones down to the ground it could make for an interesting fight.  Too bad no one has ever taken Jones down in a professional fight.  I think Jones wins easily and defends his title again.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Summer is Winding Down

As summer winds down, take a minute or two to look back.  Look back not only at your time spent in the classroom or in the office; remember to look at the whole picture.  Reflect back on the time you spent with your friends both at Drexel and back home.  Reflect back on time spent with your family.  No matter how successful you feel you were this summer, look back and ask yourself “how can I do better next summer?” 

Everybody needs to look back.  That’s how we grow as people.  Everybody has goals whether they are expressed allowed or kept within.  Did you exceed your goals this summer?

If you didn’t reach your goals, then that is alright.  You still have plenty of summers to come.  If you did, then don’t become complacent.  Next summer set the bar higher for yourself.  Don’t shy away from challenges.  Challenging yourself is how you get better.  Step outside your comfort zone.  That was a big one for me because I tend to stay with things that I know.  I hate not knowing what’s going to come next.  Stepping outside your comfort zone can be a very empowering task.  Ask yourself “when was the last time I did something for the first time?”

I have a personal tendency to get caught up in my resume and become a little career obsessed, which I’m sure other people can feel sometimes as well.  It is important to remember that no matter how competitive your field, you must take time for yourself.  Plenty of people think that they can be the one that doesn’t need to follow the rule.  Those same people eventually breakdown.  You’re in it for the long-haul; don’t wear yourself too thin when you’re only 19, 20, 21 years old.  It’s too soon.  Work hard but keep a healthy balance.  Your career is always there.  Don’t forget about yourself.

As summer winds down, take a minute or two to set some goals for yourself for when you’re in class or going out on co-op.  What do you expect to earn in your classes?  How do you plan on breaking down your study time and personal time?  What do you want to do when you’re not in class or working?  Maybe it sounds crazy to some of you to think about these things, but it is important.  You must always be striving for the next step.  Everybody plateaus at some point, but try to make that plateau as short as possible.

Class is more than going to class and getting grades.  Co-op is more than going to work and gaining real world experience.  You are still there through all of it.  Take care of you too.  Don’t forget about the person that makes it all tick.  As summer winds down, don’t forget about yourself.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Global Scope: European Success

The UEFA European Football Championship is the most prestigious competition in all of Europe. Since 1960 where the tournament was first held in France, there have been 14 European Football Championships culminating with EURO 2012 hosted by Poland and Ukraine. This was the third time the European championship was co-hosted by two different nations (2000 - Belgium/Netherlands and 2008 - Austria/Switzerland), but only the first time it was hosted by two "struggling nations." This was, however, a part of UEFA president Michel Platini's plan to get European countries with lower international prestige a chance to succeed. Leading into the EURO 2012 competition, the people and media throughout the world were still skeptical as to how this joint hosting venture would pan out. As far as UEFA is concerned, financially, it was a success!

There is a total of 575 clubs that are going to share the benefits of UEFA EURO 2012, according to the new memorandum of understanding which was signed between UEFA and the European Club Association (ECA) in March of this year. Yesterday was when UEFA finalized the calculation of the amounts to be paid to UEFA member associations for them to pass on to those of their clubs which contributed to the success of UEFA EURO 2012 and national team football in Europe. This year there are 575 clubs that will benefit, which is a huge increase when compared to the distribution after the UEFA EURO 2008, when 180 clubs only received payments.

After analyzing this year`s financials UEFA made 100 million euros available for distribution, with 40 million reserved for clubs that released players during qualifying matches. The other 60 million euros will go to the clubs that released players for the final tournament in Poland and Ukraine. Clubs receive an equal share per player released for each qualifying match, and a fixed amount per player per day for the final tournament, weighted with the FIFA categorization of clubs for training compensation.

In order to be eligible for a share of the benefits from UEFA EURO 2012 clubs were asked to fill in, sign and return a club application form to UEFA, in which they agreed in particular to support national team competitions and to comply with the FIFA regulations on the release of players. This succesful partnership between the ECA and UEFA was evident during the UEFA EURO 2012 competition, and culminated with the financial success that UEFA and the ECA are experiencing now. UEFA President Michel Platini has stated that this system is proving to be ideal, with clubs peacefully releasing players to play in international play, knowing that they will later be financially compensated.

The top six clubs participating in the benefits of UEFA EURO 2012 are:
1) FC Bayern München €3,095,393 2) Real Madrid CF €2,996,585 3) FC Barcelona €2,210,202 4) Manchester City FC €2,069,465 5) Juventus €2,023,012 6) Liverpool FC €1,972,376

The plan for UEFA EURO 2016 in France is to target a total amount of 150 million euros available for distribution. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Summer of Andy Murray: Olympics and Grand Slams

Andy Murray made history in August at the Olympic Games in his home country of Great Britain when he became the first British man to win the Olympic Singles Gold Medal in tennis since Josiah Ritchie in 1908. The 2012 Summer Olympics were held in London, England; the 1908 Summer Olympic Games were held in London, England. It is incredible that a country which is home to the most hollowed tennis club in the World, Wimbledon, has only had two Olympic Gold Medalists in the last century. Adding an extra twist to this story, both of those Olympic Gold Medalists won their respective golds in London. Now that I have enlightened you with that tidbit of sport rarity we can get to the main point of this blog post, the incredible summer that Andy Murray, British tennis star and world #3, has had.
The first record he broke was 74 years old. In 1938, British tennis star Bunny Austin was the last man to reach the finals of Wimbledon; after beating Frenchman Jo-Wilfred Tsonga in the semi-finals, Andy Murray stepped onto Centre Court to battle the legend, and arguably the best tennis player of all time, Roger Federer. Although he lost the match in four sets, he inspired a city and country that in less than a month would be hosting the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.
When the Olympics finally rolled around, Andy Murray was playing some of the best tennis of his career. Not only did he compete in Men's Singles, he also competed in both Men's Doubles and Mixed Doubles. After a first round exit in Men's Doubles, he fought through the rounds in the other two divisions making his way to the finals. After losing in Mixed Doubles with his partner Laura Robson to the number 1 seeds Victoria Azarenka and Max Mirnyi of Belarus, Andy Murray found himself in the Gold Medal Match, after losing just one set in all previous Olympic matches combined, against the same man he faced just weeks before at Wimbledon, Roger Federer. Murray handled his business in front of the whole world in his homeland and won the Gold Medal in straight sets. I don't know what it is about the Olympics in London, but it inspires the male tennis players of Great Britain.
Since re-entering the top ten rankings in 2008, Andy Murray has been hampered by the fact that he cannot win the Grand Slam. Part of the reason he has not brought home the big title is because he has three players ahead of him who are just as good if not better on every surface, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Federer. With Nadal out with injury and Federer reeling from his shellacking at the Olympics, Murray prepared to ride the wave into and through the US Open. After a grueling five set match, complete with a first set that had 22 tiebreaker points, that read 7-6 (10), 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2, Murray finally can call himself a Grand Slam Champion. Only one man can claim that a Grand Slam title has been as elusive, in that they lost their first four Grand Slam finals. That man, Ivan Lendl, happens to be Murray's new coach.

Andy Murray
Andy Murray has had quite the summer. As a fellow Murray, I hope that this streak continues and he finds confidence in this action-packed three month stretch. With the decline of Roger Federer, the continuous injury problems of Rafael Nadal, and no real, young challengers coming out of the juniors, Andy Murray could find himself challenging for that world #1 ranking very soon.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Philly Sports Networking at Xfinity Live

Recently, I had sent out information to my Sport Management students (and otherwise marketed) an upcoming networking event meant for current and aspiring sports industry professionals.  This event, by way of an additional shameless plug, is the “Philly Sports Networking event” which is being held on September 19th from 6:00-9:00pm at the new Xfinity Live facility near the sports complex in South Philadelphia.  This event is tricky when it comes to networking and getting the most out of it as compared to let’s say a career fair but nonetheless it is extremely valuable and worth your while.

When attending a networking event or an otherwise-titled social event that has a professional feel to it (like an awards dinner, for example), it is usually helpful to go into it with some sort of goal in mind.  I want to walk out of here with 10 business cards or I want to handout 5 resumes.  However, you may not have a business card to give or an event (like this) asks that you not bring your resume.  Still, try to go into the event thinking that you want to meet x number of new people, possibly collect y number business cards, or set-up z number of follow-up coffee or lunch meetings or informational interviews.  Go into it with a game plan!

Networking nights are unique.  Everyone has an agenda.  Some people are in it for the social aspect (meeting new friends, having a drink).  Others are looking for potential leads for business development purposes (sales, money).  A few people might be looking for a job and if you are lucky, a small percentage of the attendees might be looking to hire now or in the near future.  There are probably another half dozen reasons for attending but let’s just stick with these for now.  Because there are different motives for being there, I’d suggest that you have reasonable expectations. 

Since you don’t know who will be there, you can’t do homework on each person or company.  No big deal.  Be prepared personally and it’ll all fall into place.  For you, develop a 30 second commercial or an elevator speech.  Tell people who you are and what you do but do so concisely.  Then listen.  Ask questions of the people you are meeting with.  Networking nights are a two-way street…in other words, don’t be selfish.

Aside from dressing appropriately (business casual will suffice), be sure to bring something to write with and jot down notes on.  If you don’t have a business card, as I assume most college students do not, bring a professional-looking padded portfolio.  Try to get the name, phone, and email of the people you meet if you do indeed plan on following up.  Then, here is the key.  FOLLOW-UP.  I’ve been to dozens of networking events and collected hundreds of business cards but that is only half the battle.  What you do next is key.  Email them, call them, and/or connect with them on LinkedIn.  Continue the relationship that started with a handshake and build on that relationship.  Networking takes time.

Finally, I would try to meet and introduce yourself to the organizers.  Thank them for putting the event together and inviting you.  Perhaps they might be willing to lend you a hand in the challenging world of navigating a networking night.  Good luck!

Full Court Press: NFL Sponsorship Launch

With the kickoff of the 2012 NFL season this week, there is an influx of new NFL-related marketing campaigns. There are new NFL sponsorship deals that are taking advantage of opening week ratings, and player-specific endorsements that are also launching their marketing efforts. To promote the 2012-13 season, every sponsor is in full gear to get their name and campaign efforts in the homes of millions of NFL viewers.  

Some of the biggest campaigns include those sponsors that have established new or renewed relationships this off-season with fresh contracts to begin. New Era Caps has locked in a five-year deal to be the official license for players to wear their hats on the field during games, a feat previously held by Reebok. Their humorous campaign (similar to the MLB commercial spots) features Bills’ DT Marcell Dareus “testing out” his cap in the makeshift Laboratory of Headwear Science and Capology.  PepsiCo also has a new contract for the next 10-years, and they’re hard at work to make it meaningful. One big aspect of their new marketing plans is to make limited edition cans for the different team markets. It will help to engage fans from all across the country. With research they completed this off-season, Pepsi has determined it is increasingly important to associate the two partner logos as much as possible, because it encourages NFL fans to purchase their products.

Bud Light, although now in the second year of their deal is instituting some unique aspects to their marketing campaigns this season. The cardboard cases of Bud Light will be manufactured partially with a football “leather-like” feel. It is a very innovative way to incorporate the partnership directly into their products. In addition, Bud Light is also sporting fantasy football codes in their cans which each can has the potential contribute to a virtual “football game” on  
Many more partners will be launching their campaigns for the 2012-13 NFL season as Opening Week continues, and as usual every effort of the season will lead up to the ultimate feat of elite Super Bowl commercial recognition. 


Party Like Its 1992

The Baltimore Orioles have been one of the biggest surprises of the 2012 season.  As of today they are in first place in the tough AL East division.  The last time the Orioles were in first this late in the season was 1997 which was also the last time they made the playoffs.  The Orioles are hoping to end that streak this year and finally make it back to the postseason. 

The Orioles have had a lot of success on the field this year but that has not translated into high attendance numbers.  They rank 23rd in total attendance only averaging 24,921 at their home games.  This average attendance means the Orioles are only filling about 55 percent of the seats in Camden Yards. 

Before the season Baltimore announced that for the 20th anniversary of Camden Yards they were going to offer limited seating at six games at 1992 prices.  A limited number of the Eutaw Street Bleacher seats would be offered at 4 dollars apiece.  This price is 75% off the face value of the ticket.  The games included April 27 vs. Oakland, May 7 vs. Texas, July 24 vs. Tampa Bay, Aug. 9 vs. Kansas City, Aug. 27 vs. the White Sox and Sept. 12 vs. Tampa Bay. 

The Orioles have told the fans to “Buckle Up” for September and are now offering discounted prices for their upcoming series against the Tampa Bay Rays on September 11-13.  They are offering the same Eutaw Street seats at the discounted price and added Left Field Lower Box seats for 8 dollars apiece.  

I feel this is a good way for the Orioles to try to boost attendance and get more people to realize that they are a good team again.  Hopefully the fans start to support them and they can over take the Yankees and the Rays as the most dominate team in the AL East.      

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Man Advantage: Big Ten Network, Big Plans, Big Payoff


I know I am—it’s one of the best times of the year, as college football starts anew. After an offseason marred with scandal (and I have zero interest in rehashing what I mean), I’m excited to see the pursuit for the 2012 BCS title begin. Amid the controversy is all the money that comes with it: bowl money, realignment issues, sponsorship dollars, etc. Above all others, one source of revenue looks to continue as the biggest ticket item: television.

On August 14, the Big East’s hired CBS executive VP Mike Aresco as commissioner of the new-look conference, making it clear the conference was going all in on creating its own television network. The conference turned down a deal from ESPN in May 2011 rumored to be worth $11 million per school, in order to hold out for more money… then saw Pitt, Syracuse, and West Virginia (arguably three of it's most attractive schools) all bolt for greener pastures.

The gold standard in the world of college sports and television deals is now and will continue to be the Big Ten. The Big Ten Network, going into its fifth season, is pushing the pinnacle of what conference networks can achieve year in and year out. The August 20 issue of SportsBusiness Journal named Big Ten commissioner (and mastermind behind the Big Ten Network) Jim Delaney the #2 most influential figure in college football. Few things seem to stand in the way of the BTN—it’s first half-decade has been marked by constant negotiations with local cable companies to carry the network to their viewers. Just recently, the Big Ten Network came to a temporary agreement with DISH Network, allowing it’s 14 million subscribers to catch the opening weekend games mere hours before kickoff.

SBJ recently satdown with BTN President, Mark Silverman, to discuss the future of the burgeoning network power. Silverman’s focus seems squarely focused on digital/mobile, believing “we need to make sure our programming is available no matter how our viewers want to watch it.” The introduction of BTN2Go streaming media is the heart of their strategy, as more people are watching on their smartphones, tablets, and computers; anywhere but in front of a television. The network is also looking to grow the international presence of the network, working with all 12 member schools’ alumni associations to spread to their target audience.

With what many of us have learned (either in classes or on the job), digital media is a huge portion of the present and future of sports business. The Big Ten is, as my favorite school says, “the leaders and best” in the NCAA with their digital media presence. Time will tell whether the Pac-12, SEC, ACC, or Big “12” (let alone Notre Dame and Texas) can find the same success the Big Ten Network has had in its brief existence.

Do you see anyone catching up with the BTN? Post in the comments below!