Marketing plans and strategies are an important part of almost any business today. One of the biggest industries marketing plans have benefited and changed in a number of different ways is the sports industry. The development of the sports marketing industry has led companies to invest millions of dollars to have their product associated with specific teams, players, and sporting events attempting to connect with consumer and create profit for both parties involved. The money involved in sports marketing calls for these sponsorships and endorsement decisions to be made both strategically and confidently. After researching the sports industry from a business perspective the importance of marketing decisions is realized. Business decisions also can directly impact the success or lack thereof for many franchises, players, and brands around the world.
Athletes today in many cases are global icons no matter what sport they play or what country they play in. There are billboards, posters, and photos of athletes in countries they have never been and most likely will never go to. The facts that the citizens of these countries even know who athletes are that play an unfamiliar sport half way around the world exemplifies the power and importance of sports marketing. Companies are face with the task of identifying the perfect athlete to represents their product successfully while following the mission and values most important to the company. Companies may factor in things like race, sex, childhood upbringing, as well as potential and current popularity. The first thing companies take into account is their consumers. The consumers, particularly sports fans in this case, need to be able to share a connection with both the athlete and the company itself. They need to feel the link that associates them with both the product and its endorsers. Without the consumers there would be no target for these marketing plans and a lot less money involved in the business aspect of sports.
Prior to Thanksgiving of 2009 the most famous athlete on the planet for all of the right reasons was Tiger Woods. By now we all know of his infidelity and personal issues, but we don’t know how much he may have cost athletes in future marketing opportunities. Tiger Woods was a marketing juggernaut for several reasons. First of all he was the best golfer in the world from the time he arrived on the PGA Tour around the age of 20. He was educated at Stanford, well-spoken, and bi-racial leading every company to believe he was their man to take their product to the next level. Woods carried all the qualities to make people across the globe feel as if they could relate to him in their own personal way. The most important quality in the eyes of several marketers is the fact that Woods is bi-racial. His father is an African-American and his mother is from Thai. The bi-racial aspect is especially important in this case because it went against the traditional white or European association with golfers. The sports of golf is one of the last sports to allow minorities to play on the PGA Tour or even join exclusive country clubs across the world. The fact Woods was so dominant in a sport stereotyped for white or European males provided an opportunity for companies that could result in nothing but success. Companies such as Accenture, Tag Heuer, AT&T, Gatorade, Nike, Electronic Arts, and Gillette all had invested millions over the past years to help Woods earn over $100 million annually in endorsements alone. (Gregory, 2009) Several of these companies mentioned (Accenture, Tag Heuer, AT&T, Gatorade, Gillette) by Gregory have since dropped Tiger Woods from their marketing plan and respectfully so. The most surprising from an athletic standpoint may be Gatorade and Woods parting ways. Out of all the companies to drop Woods, Gatorade is the only one whose product is targeted directly at athletes and the sports world. Gatorade is also a company whose...
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