The classic modern Olympic case study and one that gets more than its fair share of praise in ‘Working the Olympics’, is Samsung. The story of a faceless OEM turned global brand superstar on the back of a quality product portfolio, a sponsorship portfolio bordering on lavish, and a single-minded attitude to brand marketing. Yet so much has changed, even since we began writing ‘Working the Olympics’, that instinctively that story feels like it belongs to a bygone era; an era when it was Western markets and Western consumers that were the prime audience and emerging brands were desperate for the riches that could be unlocked with a mass consumer profile and a hefty marketing spend. Now the world is very different. Continue reading
For many years a lot of sponsorship exponents were asking for was more scrutiny over sponsorship spend, for senior management to think more carefully about how they can use sponsorship to full effect. They wanted to raise it higher up the agenda, and to put an end to sponsorship at the whim of the senior exec.
That moment has now arrived, although not in the guise many had been hoping for. Continue reading
As interest ramps up at the peak of the 4-year Olympic cycle, as well as the UEFA European championships year, there’s going to be a lot said and written about major global platforms; and with our new Olympic publication we’ll probably be as responsible as anyone. With all that going on, I’m keen to maintain a balance and address some of the broader issues facing sponsors beyond the major global flagship properties, and for that matter beyond sport. Continue reading
First published in SportBusiness Magazine December 2011
As SportBusiness International this month identifies and celebrates the 20 men and women whose innovation have shaped the sports industry in 2011, I want to recognise one of the most influential and yet least talked about names in world sport.
Professor Arne Ljungqvistt’s past lives as a champion high-jumper, doctor, and professor of pathology have made him one of the world’s foremost experts on performance-enhancing drugs, and the tests to detect them.
First published in SportBusiness Magazine November 2011
Malcolm Gladwell’s written a number of articles for grantland.com on the current state of the NBA during the four-months and counting of the current lockout. He eloquently argues the case that not only are NBA owners overstating their claims for financial penury but through their actions they grossly overvalue their own sports franchises relative to any financial return they could hope to achieve.
There’s now a growing consensus that games will be missed and that the players are going to end up on the losing side of a substantial change in salaries and contract length. Were this not such a predictable re-tread of 1998 it would be surprising that a league with so much reliance on the image of its players has the whip hand in negotiations
First published in SportBusiness Magazine October 2011
The increasing importance of emerging markets has highlighted the complexities of sponsorship investment in key developing economies. As growth and marketing budgets stagnate in developed economies, major brands have switched focus to the developing economies and sponsorship budgets are starting to follow suit.
India is the most interesting case in point; there’s a confluence between corruption issues in Indian governance and a narrow range of available sports properties which has made India a challenging market for building differentiated sponsorship programmes.
When Manchester City FC announced their £400m deal with Etihad Airways, cynics were quick to point out it seemed a clever way to increase the club’s income via a related Abu Dhabi business, ensuring MCFC’s defecit stayed the right side of the UEFA fair play regulations. Arsene Wenger and Ian Ayre quickly called foul and, along with others, questioned whether the process had been credible, fair, and whether the deal reflected market value.
Truth is this won’t have been taken to market in any meaningful sense, but MCFC aren’t a government entity and so have no obligation to do so. If they got an unsolicited offer significantly above the value they had assigned to those rights they would be entitled to take the offer. If that offer was from Coke, Samsung or any non-affiliated company no-one would have batted an eyelid.
This isn’t a process question, they can sell the rights however they like, it’s an ownership issue and a flaw in the fair play regulations.
1. Player wages and labour unrest
The economic indicators may be turning positive but 2011 is going to be a marquee year for sports labour disputes. The NFL and NFL players have entered negotiations and started litigating, likely to be just the first salvo in a long summer of owner/player discord across multiple sports. Between now and September we’re likely to see as many articles dealing with labour issues with the NFL, NBA, and the UEFA debt plans as those dealing with actual sports.
The themes are fairly common and are likely to become boringly predictable. Owner profits are down, stadium costs rising; local governments are less willing to bail out local teams with favourable stadium deals. Now NFL / NBA owners are looking to share the pain with the players; harder caps, reduced player compensation, longer seasons. The arguments are going to continue to be ugly; both leagues just have to hope they don’t do irreparable damage to their long-term future in their desire to preserve the short-term bottom line.
Has Nike sponsorship lost the plot?
Of all the questions we’ve ever posed, this feels the most scary. For years, Nike has set the gold standard for creativity, insight and style. It’s on everyone’s list of iconic brands. It’s the ambushers’ darling, the sina qua non of brand statement. It’s the market leader bar none in sports clothing and accessories, its profitability dwarfs adidas and Puma. And yet the signs are clearly there.
Let’s take two.