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In the past, people viewed sports as sources of fun and pleasure. However, in the 21st century, sports have acquired new roles in the advertisement world. Consequently, sport marketing has become a big business as most companies spend millions of dollars in advertising and promotional campaigns that have endorsements from famous world athletes.
Sports have developed to become a multibillion-dollar global industry that has huge potential to grow throughout the coming decades. Sport marketing focuses on “television, endorsements, sponsorship, and products promotion” (Gilbert, 2007).
PricewaterhouseCoopers noted that the “sports industry accounted for around $50 billion in revenues in the United States in 2007, which was up from just under $35 billion in 2001” (Gilbert, 2007). Today, many fans have various sports to watch and enjoy.
The traditional sports must compete with emerging sports for fans, and fans have proved difficult to attract, engage, and retain just like customers. These changes have affected advertisement and sport marketing campaigns. Therefore, the traditional approaches to marketing campaigns have changed as athletes find new roles in the world of advertisement.
Marketing and psychology relate to each other as studies have demonstrated. Human behavior in the marketplace is critical for advertisers. Sports personalities use the ‘halo effect’ in the advertisement world (Abrams, 2010). The ‘halo effect’ is in most celebrities such as actors, musicians, and now on athletes.
There is a common belief that whenever a celebrity uses or endorses a product, many people would want to purchase the same product because celebrities are role models. Many consumers believe that if a product can address the needs of a celebrity, then the same product is suitable for them too.
As a result, many people will purchase such products because of the need to copy their role models. Companies have realized the need to use the ‘halo effect’ of athletes to endorse and promote their products. Companies can use several strategies to promote their products through sport marketing.
The halo effect has been effective in enhancing positive features of a given brand. Consequently, a brand achieves fame that creates enthusiasm in other products of the company.
Scholars have explored various ways of engaging sport marketing. We have sport advertisement, the use of sports’ personalities and events to promote products, and promotion of sports to the audience in order to enhance participation.
Marketing through sport has emerged as the best way of promoting products and brands among many loyal sports’ fans. Some promotion techniques involve the use of sponsorship. Sponsorship may be to an entire team or specific athletes. Sport marketing emerged out of the need to promote products from the halo effect of athletes.
The aim of sport marketing is to promote products or services with sports, but not to promote the sport itself. Advertisers usually ensure that the marketing campaign aims to address the needs of the consumer of the product or service.
The normal strategy involves the use of “four Ps of marketing like product, price, promotion, and place” (Beech and Chadwick, 2006). In addition, there are also four Ps, which relate to “planning, packaging, positioning, and perception” (Beech and Chadwick, 2006) of the product or service.
Sport marketing has relied on the fact that athletes are usually loyal to brands. Consequently, their fans also tend to be loyal to such products. In most cases, companies have signed contracts with several athletes or teams.
Under such arrangements, athletes use products from such companies and get payments in return. This approach usually as effects on fans, and fans develop brand loyalty due to halo effect.
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Athletes’ endorsements of products have significant effects on consumers. There is an emotional attachment between the athlete and the consumer. Through both conscious and unconscious ways, consumers relate products or services to the athlete. Nike has successfully exploited Michael Jordan’s personality and image to develop its brand.
Consumers who buy Nike products also identify themselves with Michael Jordan, who is wealthy, successful, and famous. Scholars note that the purchase of such products brings users close to athletes, who also use the same products. Athletes like Michael Jordan and LeBron James usually endorse products, which are specific to their sport.
According Forbes Magazine, LeBron is the NBA’s biggest endorsement athlete. He has several deals with “Nike, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, State Farm, and others” (Forbes, 2013). The athlete also expanded and has deals with “Baskin Robbins of Asia and Dunkin’ Donuts” (Forbes, 2013).
In fact, most of these athletes have marketing career because of sport marketing. However, this depends on fame and success in sports, which enable the athlete to establish superior credibility that consumers must identify with products or services that athletes endorse. The company hopes to gain positive feedback for athletes’ endorsement.
In some cases, athletes promote products or services, which do not have any relationships with their sports. However, companies prefer such athletes because of the positive feedback they generate with other products. Jordan has engaged in sport marketing of Hanes underwear for men.
This is because the athlete has created iconic image in the world of sport marketing. Consequently, such companies have achieved success because of using iconic athletes in branding and promotion strategies.
Some critics have argued that advertisements and media have negative impacts among many youths. This is because advertisements can relay various meanings to different viewers. Advertisers often conduct market studies in order to determine how to present their products effectively.
Most advertisement messages appeal to insecurity and fear of the audience in order to make successful sales presentations. Such advertisement massages present solutions to viewers at the end.
In most cases, advertisement messages have lured youths to make inappropriate purchase decisions. This usually takes place in cases where the advertiser appeals to youths to buy an expensive pair of shoes they may not afford.
Most youths consider successful athletes as their role models. As a result, such youths tend to mimic lifestyles of their favorite athletes. In this sense, athletes should be positive role models to youths and other consumers. For instance, the advertisement “Wanna be like Mike” had a significant effect on the promotion of Nike shoe.
The iconic image Mike also came along with the shoe. Iconic images of athlete make them appeal to their fans through products they endorse to the public. Successful athletes are the best in their sports careers.
The idea of using successful athletes to endorse a product or enhance the strength of the brand shows superiority of the product or service among competitors. Most target viewers believe that the product has superior quality or will make them perform like the athlete. Athletes also demonstrate hard work and determination that bring success.
Michael Jordan is an outstanding role model to many youths. He represents hard work to Americans. However, these are character traits, which are not common among many successful athletes. Some of these athletes also have contracts with certain companies to endorse their products or promote their brands. The issues of advertisement and role model among athletes have raised concerns among many people.
Many organizations struggle to find suitable athletes with specific brand attributes. Such attributes of the athlete should match the brand or the image that the company wishes to reinforce among its target audience.
According Sarah Jane Gilbert, “Canon chose Sharapova to promote its PowerShot digital camera because she possesses a number of qualities that fit with the brand” (Gilbert, 2007).
In addition, some companies also concentrate on personal traits. For instance, they look at winning streak and hard work among athletes. Therefore, such qualities are the right brand attributes, which many companies seek from athletes. Some companies also consider personal features like good looks, image, and public speaking abilities.
Most athletes’ careers have short life span. However, some of these athletes also experience various challenges such as legal problems or scandals. For instance, problems of Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, and Michael Vick among others have negative impacts on their abilities to attract and maintain endorsements.
Many companies prefer athletes who do not have questionable images to be their brand ambassadors. Therefore, the image of an athlete may influence his or her marketing career through sport marketing.
Sport marketing creates brand memberships, recognition, and sales. Firms, athletes, management teams, and other sports bodies rely on these issues to derive values of sport marketing.
Therefore, sport marketing must also have a proper planning and management in order to comprehend consumers and the marketplace. Therefore, sport has become an important, lucrative, and long-lasting form of marketing.
In the area of endorsement, advertisers have turned to athletes for promotional purposes. Marketers have realized that reaching many people through the traditional forms of advertisement has become difficult (Rein, Kotler and Shields, 2006). Consequently, they have realized the potential in athletes.
Advertisements have been able to use the idea of celebrities and athletes in order to promote products among fans of such athletes. People would want to have a product because a famous and successful athlete has it. Most of these advertisements aim to convince viewers that they can also be like the successful athlete (Wanna be like Mike).
This enables the consumer to relate the athlete with a given product. Advertisements have ways of influencing what products consumers can purchase. Companies that have created brands have used effective messages, athletes with clean images, and good public speaking skills.
Athletes have become common in the media, and most of them usually have their best brands. Such acts make the athlete a good brand ambassador for any firm. As a result, athletes have transformed the advertisement world today. Sport marketing has become a crucial part of advertisements that many firms must focus on for their future growths (Horrow and Swatek, 2011).
Many sports have wide fan base and advertisers have realized this too. Therefore, advertisers see sports as the best way to reach many consumers with the support of athletes in such sports, who have considerable number of fans.
In all, firms that have effective product positioning and use athletes to endorse their products have reached vast markets, created brand awareness, built consumer loyalty, and increased revenues and sales volumes (Smith, 2008).
Abrams, E. (2010). Athletes in Advertising. Web.
Beech, J., and Chadwick, S. (2006). The marketing of Sport. New York: Prentice Hall.
Forbes. (2013). LeBron James. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/profile/lebron-james/#74fba9f52398
Gilbert, S. J. (2007). Marketing Maria: Managing the Athlete Endorsement. Retrieved from https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/marketing-maria-managing-the-athlete-endorsement
Horrow, R., and Swatek, K. (2011). Beyond the Scorebook: An Insider’s Guide to the Business of Sports. Illinois: Human Kinetics.
Rein, I., Kotler, P., and Shields, B. (2006). The Elusive Fan: Reinventing Sports in a Crowded Marketplace. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Smith, A. (2008). Introduction to Sport Marketing. Oxford: Routledge.