Sports Sponsorship Research Paper
Being an older sister to an extremely athletic teenage boy, I’ve seen it all when it comes to sports apparel. I’ve learned over the years what’s “cool” and “not cool”, and I know I’m not just speaking for my brother when I say that Under Armour is one of the coolest. But what makes Under Armour so cool? Why do so many athletes, young and old, choose Under Armour over the brands they’ve been so loyal to for so many years, like Nike and Adidas? Our generation was able to witness the brand grow; it began as a company selling only its tight-fitting, sweat absorbing shirts and has now become one of the top-selling sports apparel brands in the world, alongside Nike and Adidas. Of course Under Armour’s rapid success is extraordinary, but the young man behind it all, Kevin Plank is outright inspiring. He began by convincing a few football buddies to try out his gear at practice, and before long entire teams were hooked. About 15 years have gone by, and Kevin Plank is now known to be the creator of a billion-dollar business: Under Armour. The famous sports apparel brand not only holds endorsements with some of the biggest athletes in the world, such as Michael Phelps, Tom Brady, and Bryce Harper, but it also fully sponsors colleges such as Auburn University, University of Maryland, University of South Carolina, and Texas Tech University. Under Armour might not be up to par with its competition just yet, but at the rate they’re going, it won’t take long at all for them to catch up!
In our book, Wall Street Journal claims that the sponsorship industry is, “one of the fastest growing forms of advertising.” A leading marketing executive refers to sponsorship as, “a high-end form of product placement,” and also says it is, “a unique way for companies to achieve exclusivity, a benefit not easily attained in more traditional forms of advertising” (WSJ booklet). The industry of sponsorship has continued to grow rapidly over the years and has benefitted not only the companies themselves, but also the others involved, such as sporting events, athletes, and teams, whether they be at the professional, collegiate, or high school-level. Unlike advertising, sponsorship is based on quality factors, not quantity factors. The sponsor and the sponsee establish a unique relationship and work together to reach their specific goals. For example, a lot of events now use sponsorship in an effort to create excitement and lower costs. It also allows them to reach their specific target markets in a more effective and creative manner. On the other hand, the companies who decide to sponsor such events, athletes, teams, and organizations, are able to achieve multiple goals at once. A few of these goals would include: enhancing the brand image and shaping consumer attitudes, which can be reached by improving the way they are perceived by their target market; driving sales, by being able to showcase their products and expose their brand, can be achieved; heightening visibility, which can be maximized by the use of media coverage; differentiating from competitors, made possible by being able to stand above their industry rivals; being seen in the community, helping to make a difference makes the company perceived as a “good corporate citizen”; and enhancing business, consumer, and VIP relations, a benefit that comes hand-in-hand with hospitality (Friedman). Sponsorship has the ability to be extremely flexible when it comes to clients. Companies can sponsor on a private level, such as athlete sponsorship, on a corporate level, in which the company and athlete are somewhat of a “team”, and on a team level, where the company sponsors and provides for an entire sports team (Lainson).
As I mentioned before, Under Armour is heavily involved with sports sponsorship, with clients ranging from huge programs on the professional level, like the National Football League and Major League Baseball, to programs on the collegiate...
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