The ways in which the modern athlete is marketed are quite different then anyone could have imagined even a handful of years ago. It has taken quite the change in thinking to get to a point where Facebook friends and Twitter followers equate to a powerful personal brand. That is were we have ended up though.
This is a nice example, as laid out by Adidas’ VP, Global Basketball, Lawrence Norman. Take Dwight Howard as an example. Say Dwight has 1,000,000 friends on Facebook. And now say just 10% of those friends are “active”. Take this to mean that those 100,000 friends log onto Facebook frequently and check Dwight Howard’s page. If only 10% of those 100,000 active fans end up buying an Adidas basketball shoe, the company has actually made a substantial conversion. Using those numbers, that would equate to a 1% market share just from Dwight Howard’s Facebook friends.
If Charlie Sheen’s 2M followers in his first week on Twitter didn’t get the point through to you, maybe now you see why this social media thing can be so powerful.
During the Athlete Branding panel at Sloan Sports Analytics 2011, Dwight Howard was mentioned often. This was partly due to the fact that not only did Adidas have a representative, but so did Gatorade which is another of Howard’s sponsors. Both Adidas and Gatorade loved Howard for two reasons. First, he is very active on such websites such as Twitter and Facebook. Second, he appeals to not only young men but especially to the teen and preteen age demographic.
These companies want to reach out to the early teenage demo more than any other. These brands want to become associated with kids who are, or will be, playing AAU basketball. These are the kids that have high potential to become influencers for these brands.
What else makes Dwight Howard a good spokesman? The NBA.
Dwight is a global icon, because the NBA is quickly becoming this countries most exported sport. Specifically, the NBA has massive reach in China. The Chinese market is one with truly extraordinary potential. This about this — a couple years ago, eight Houston Rockets had shoe deals in China. Eight! That means three guys were coming off the bench, and still had shoe contracts with Chinese companies.
Also on the Athlete Branding panel was Greg Via, Global Director, Sports Marketing for Gillette. Wait, what does Gillette want with pro athletes? Well, really, the same thing Gatorade and Adidas do — young men. Who is starting to shave and make purchases tied to shaving? Young men.
This is where Gillette came up with their “Young Guns” campaign. For 2011, the campaign focuses on Ray Rice, Denny Hamlin, Matt Ryan, Carlos Gonzalez, Evan Longoria and Kyle Busch. Individually any one of these spokesman would be someone that Gillette got “on the cheap”.
I mean, seriously, I write a sports blog and I couldn’t pick a headshot of Carlos Gonzalez out of a line-up.
However, Gillette decided to put them together to promote the Gillette brand. This is something that would not have been possible without new digital media campaigns and social media websites.
Proctor & Gamble, Gillette’s parent, is the single largest buyer of TV ad time in the world. Still ,even P&G has succumb to the allure of social media.
Four years ago, 90% of Gatorade’s massive marketing spend was on television. Today, that percentage has come down to about 60%. I will give you one guess as to where a good deal of that missing 30% has gone. Yes, Gatorade has shifted a large portion of their marketing spend to digital media.
Times they are a changing.Be sure to read all of our Sloan Sports Analytics Conference coverage. There will be more throughout the week.