Day Four at Cannes started off with Eurosport talking about the business of sports marketing, with special reference to the upcoming Beijing Olympics.
Simon Crane, Managing Director, UK, Eurosport gave some impressive numbers to back his facts. According to a study done by Initiative Sports Futures in USA, five of the top 10 all time rated TV programmes in the USA are sports events led by Super Bowl 16 with 94.8 million viewers.
A 2007 report by Pricewaterhouse Coopers values the global sports industry at $ 96 billion in 2006, and expects it to be worth $ 109 billion this year. The report estimates that the industry will rise to $ 124 billion by 2011.
Crane said that this year’s Olympic Games could well deliver the largest TV audience ever for an Olympic game. He said that the biggest advantage that sports offered was the intense passion that fans shared with their favourite games. “Sports offers an unparalled level of engagement, it is a constant in the lives of fans, it crosses barriers and bonds communities but most of all, it delivers reach both massive and targeted.”
Interestingly in a study by the Newspaper Association in UK, it was revealed that 79% of UK males started to read their newspapers from the back page every day.
As Crane and Jacques Raynaud, Vice Chairman, Eurosport pointed out what was interesting was that research showed that fans understood sports marketing and accept it as part of the game, and the stature of the brand increases with the stature of the games that they are associated with. However, they added, activation was key in sports marketing.
Coming to the Olympic Games, Crane pointed out that advertising during the Olympics Games was not a straight forward exercise and sponsor brands also had to contend with rival brands that initiated guerilla marketing techniques to steal their thunder. The Olympics required sophisticated activation skills.
Sponsor brands look at using sports qualities related to the Games to leverage positive values of the game. So Omega is the official timekeeper for the games and they have introduced an Omega time website which will allow sports timekeeping in real time on their website of swimming events. Johnson & Johnson is leveraging their expertise in the healthcare segment to provide an Olympics clinic along with medicines and equipment. Coca Cola and Visa have both chosen to associate with stars to leverage their sponsorship.
The most awaited session of the day though was the presentation between R/GA and Nike, presented by R/GA’s Bob Greenberg (pictured) and Nike’s Stefan Olander. With a full house, people had to be turned away or had to contend with sitting on the floor to take part in the seminar, which is testament to the success of the Nike branding story. Everyone wants a piece of the success formula.
After Nike +, the obvious question is what next? And that was the focus of the seminar. Nike has launched the Nike I.D website, which allows users to log onto the I.D site, and custom design a shoe for themselves, which they can then order online and Nike will deliver it them. Users can even embed this customized shoe on their blog or social media page.
‘Baller’s Network’ is another initiative where Nike allows basket ball players across USA the chance to plan, coordinate and connect with others players on Facebook.
Nike+ Mini is a social media application that allows users to create online avatars of themselves and embed this into their blog or social media page. Although Olander admits that there is no immediate ROI on an initiative such as the Baller’s Network, he believes that the overall value of the goodwill that the brand will be able to garner through such community based initiatives, would be tremendous and is therefore an investment.
The Nike Human Race 10k is another exercise where Nike wants to bring 1 million runners across 25 cities to run together on 31 August 2008 as a prelude to the Beijing Games. The initiative will use the Nike + application as an engine to drive people to run. People who wish to take part have to register on the Nike Human Race website. Runners from all over the world, therefore will be connected through one common community of runners who can share their experiences with a peer group in another part of the world. No one knows how to leverage the power of the community better than Nike and these three initiatives only illustrate that.
Thursday promises to be the big one. TBWA/ Worldwide’s chairman Jean-Marie Dru will talk about the advantage of being a big agency at a time when creative hot shops seem to be occupying all the headlines. Wieden+Kennedy and Coca Cola have a session, which promises to run to packed halls again.
The big seminar for tomorrow is the session with Rupert Murdoch where he is going to share his vision about the company.
Listen to R/GA’s local on www.campaigindia.in
Listen to the interview with Eurosport’s Simon Crane on www.campaignindia.in tomorrow.