All You Need to Know About Sports Marketing

Sports marketing is a fairly broad term. It’s used quite a bit by people in marketing and by people who like to think they’re familiar with advertising and marketing. Chances are if you’re using the phrase “sports marketing” or “sports advertising“, you’re probably using it correctly, that’s how broad of a term it is. Since the term is so broad, there’s a lot to sports marketing and sports advertising. It’s a popular major among younger guys who like sports but could never play sports. Sports marketing has this sort of charismatic and hip vibe. Whenever a sports marketing firm is portrayed in TV and movies, there are always famous athletes roaming around some vintage hip start-up. As one would expect, that’s not always the case.

We talked with St. Louis sports marketing and advertising firm, Caprola Squad to learn the ins and outs of sports marketing.

Sports Advertising on a NASCAR

What Exactly is Sports Marketing?

Sports marketing is a subdivision of marketing, as one would expect. However, in sports marketing, sports advertisers and marketers advertise and market multiple aspects of sports. Unlike with other types of marketing, you don’t just market one thing. Sports marketing includes a variety of subdivisions within itself. Just think about the last time you saw sports in marketing, it probably wasn’t marketing the sport itself. Here are three general categories in sports marketing.

1. Marketing a League or Sport

If you live in the United States, you’ve probably seen ads for Monday Night Football or just general ads for the NFL. If you live in a US city with a large soccer base or in Europe, there are frequent ads for the various soccer leagues including the English Premier League or La Liga. During the Olympics or around other major sporting events, you’ll often time see ads for sports involved in the competition. This is marketing a league or a sport. This category is similar to the third category, however, keep in mind, this type of marketing is usually just to get people to watch or attend a sporting event. This type of sports marketing has very little to do with encouraging participation.

Marketing a league of a sport can come in a variety of forms. The most prominent form in the United States is via TV or other media. Twitter and Facebook ads are accompanied by NFL ads during commercial breaks. Print ads are becoming less common but simply visit a major sports city and take the train or a bus. Chances are you’ll see an ad for their most popular teams. A third way sports marketers market certain leagues or sports is co-branding merchandise.

Think back to the most recent summer Olympics. Think back to all of the merchandise you saw with the Brazil 2016 logo. You probably saw the colors yellow and green a lot more than usual. That’s because major companies like Nike, Adidas, Coke, and McDonald’s work with sports marketers to co-brand their products to push the Olympics and the sports featured in the games.

2. Marketing a Product Using Sports

The second category, marketing a product using a sport or athlete is often what we think about when we hear the term sports marketing or sports advertising. When college guys (and gals) say they want to get into sports marketing, they mean this type of marketing. When marketers and advertisers market products or brands using sports, they get to interact with famous athletes and market the latest products. It’s a very appealing field. There’s also a lot of money to be made in this field.

This is the field in which Caprola Squad specializes. Caprola Squad is unique in that they’ve recognized a change away from traditional marketing and towards stories and experiences. This is a general trend to captivate new, more hip, and younger audiences. Just think back to some of the more gritty and abstract shoe commercials or Nike commercials. Right now, this category is all about who can create the most visually stunning and viral ad campaigns.

The purpose of this category is less to market the sport and more to use the popularity of sports to market a product or an entire brand. You have this category to thank for the rise of Nike.

3. Marketing a Sport to Encourage Participation

Like I said, this category is a lot like the first category. Marketers and advertisers work to market or advertise the sport. However, when talking about the third and final category, marketers are doing so to encourage participation in a sport. This is called grassroots sports marketing. Grassroots sports marketing is done by major leagues, major brands that sell sporting equipment, and even governments promoting activity among youth. There’s often less money to be made in this field and less of a market so, as noted, this isn’t typically a field in which sports marketing or advertising firms like to focus.