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COM 460 Blog of My Choice: Branding In Sports

October 30, 2013

Ben Chester

Branding in Sports

For my COM 460 blog this week, I want to look at corporate branding and sponsorship in athletics. I use the broad term “athletics” to mean professional football, MLB, NASCAR, as well as college athletics because so many of the large sponsors have an influence across multiple sports arenas. I have learned from my work with the UofL Athletics project in the course this semester that sports broadcasts have some of the highest viewership of any programming on television, and advertisers can reach millions of audience members when the programming is on.

As with all my COM 460 blog topics, a Google image search for “Branding in Sports” in sports gives an excellent overview of the topic. I see logos and color schemes that are instantly recognizable both as a sports fan and as a typical American consumer. Traditional sports brands like Nike, Adidas, Callaway, etc all appear in the results along with other companies that have nothing to do with sports. These brands include Allstate insurance (“the Allstate Sugar Bowl”), BMW, Chevron, Google are just some of the large companies consumers are familiar with but have nothing to do with sports. I have no doubt that these brands are sponsoring these events to take advantage of the large broadcast viewership where they get the most bang for their advertising buck.

One great example of corporate branding and sponsorship in athletics that I was surprised to see in the top results of a “branding in sports” search was the rapper and entrepreneur Jay Z. Now that I think about it, Jay Z is the human embodiment of cross media promotion. In case you don’t know, Jay got his start as a drug dealer in Brooklyn, then rapper, then producer, then he bought a the Brooklyn Nets pro basketball team (then sold for millions in profit), and now he is a high-profile sports agent…“I know about budgets, I used to be a drug dealer” -Jay Z. He has built a corporate brand based that plays off his personal brand of sports and music. People recognize him not only as a person, but also as an industry.

One article I found that nicely ties the issue of sports to corporate sponsorship poses the question “Can Sponsorship Impact Brand Affinity?”. In other words, what events a brand sponsors affects the consumer’s perception of the brand itself. This drives home the notion that large sporting events today have a impact on more than just team stats. The article uses the Royal Bank of Scotland’s rugby sponsorship as a negative example of how brands and sports affect public perception. After the banking crisis, people were opposed to large corporate banks and thus the rugby team saw a decline in follow ship. Today, brands influence sports and vice versa. The article concludes with the point that “do it (brand affiliation in sports) right and consumers can truly get behind a brand in impressive ways, visible and quantifiable through their words expressed online”.

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