At the Buzzer: The Semester in Review

Over the course of the 2017 spring semester, I acquired an ample amount of knowledge from Professor Conrad’s Sport Marketing class. Not only did it open my eyes to the crucial role that marketing plays in the success of a sports organization, but it also provided me with a wealth of information that I can apply to my future professional endeavors.

One of the most important things that I learned this semester is that a strong social media presence can serve as a highly effective marketing tool for a sports organization. Platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat allow these teams to connect with their fans in a fast, easy, and interactive way. Social media serves many purposes, including providing customer service, running giveaways and promotions, and providing up-to-date data and information. As I explained in a recent post, this allows followers to stay in the loop and build relationships with their favorite teams. Therefore, utilizing social media serves as an inexpensive method for building a fan base and establishing a virtual identity.

Another idea that I learned this semester is that the overall perception of a given sports organization may be affected by the state of the internal and external environment as it relates to that organization. The words, actions, and performances of players and coaches is a pivotal force in either bolstering or hindering the reputation and public opinion of that team. For example, if a coach is involved in controversial circumstances such as the one described in one of my previous posts, then that program is in danger of being swarmed by the media and thus seen in a negative light by fans and recruits. Positive actions, however, are just as influential in their ability to cause the reverse effect. Outreach programs and charity events are just some of the numerous ways in which a sports organization can build goodwill within the community and increase overall public approval.

MLB RBI logo

“RBI” is an example of a community outreach initiative that Major League Baseball uses to build goodwill within several inner-city schools that surround its 30 teams.

An additional important takeaway from this course is that using emotions in advertising is a great way to capture a viewer’s attention and draw them to a particular product. This is known to create affective involvement, which deals with the attitudes, feelings, and emotions that a consumer has toward a sport. In many cases, such as the one discussed in my post about Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, these advertisements are based around a touching or heroic story that causes the consumer to want to take some sort of action. In the case of an MLB team, for example, they might use a preseason promo on television, featuring a compilation many of the greatest moments from the previous season. The purpose of this is to channel a powerful sense of excitement and anticipation within the consumer. If it is effective, this will ultimately lead them to purchase tickets and apparel for the upcoming season, as well as increase their loyalty to that team.

Throughout the semester, I also found that marketers can utilize the five human senses in order to affect the experience that a customer has with their brand. Smell can be used because specific aromas within a sports facility may be attractive to fans, such as the smell of popcorn in a basketball arena or freshly cut grass at a baseball field. When people are exposed to these pleasant smells, they may be reminded of these places and therefore feel a desire to attend an event at that location. Sound is powerful because of its ability to strike up emotion within an individual. Playing pump-up music before a game or screaming a chant while the action is going on could significantly increase the engagement of fans.

The Q fire

The Cleveland Cavaliers use their jumbotron in Quicken Loans Arena to target sight (video screen), touch (warmth from fire), and hearing (music during promo video).

Sight is vital to branding because it allows people to physically see the logo and colors of a given team, therefore helping them to specifically recognize that team whenever they come across the logo or colors in the future. Taste plays a role as well, mainly taking place through the quality and variety of food offered at the concession stands at sporting venues. This is especially helpful when a new and creative food option is presented because it may draw fans to events whose primary purpose is to experience that new food, regardless of the outcome of the game. Lastly, sports organizations can take advantage of touch by offering comfortable facilities, as well as physical access to players and coaches through meet-and-greet sessions.

A final takeaway from Sports Marketing class is that a sports organization’s engagement with fans is absolutely required for constructing a strong brand. As I explained in this post about the Milwaukee Bucks, it is important to not allow the success of the team to act as the primary determinant of the success of the organization as a whole. Instead, teams will best benefit from establishing a personal connection with fans and providing them with various reasons for staying loyal to that team, regardless of their win/loss record. From meet-and-greet sessions to unique social media campaigns, creating and maintaining enthusiasm about the team ultimately acts as the driving force for shaping a positive brand image and building a strong and committed fan base.


-Collin Wallace

Secrets of the Ducks’ Success

When you think of elite college football teams, schools with a storied legacy such as Alabama, Ohio State, and Florida State most likely come to mind. Their ascent to this point, however, did not simply occur overnight. It is instead the product of brilliant branding and marketing tactics that helped propel these teams’ overall awareness, perception, recruiting, and finances to this high level of success. The University of Oregon is widely considered the “poster child” for this idea, as they have assembled one of the strongest and most esteemed collegiate athletic programs in the entire nation.

The University of Oregon, located in the city of Eugene, began competing in intercollegiate athletics in 1877, just one year after being founded as an institution. It now supports 17 varsity athletic teams that compete in the Pacific 12 Conference at the NCAA Division I level. The Ducks began their journey to superiority after a journalism major named Phil Knight graduated from Oregon in 1959, and eventually went on to become the co-founder of Nike along with track and field coach Bill Bowerman in 1978. To this day, Nike has been the official uniform and apparel sponsor for all of Oregon athletics.

Ducks Football unis

One of over 500 different uniform combinations that University of Oregon football team can achieve (via Uniform Critics)

These uniforms represented the first defining moment that set the Ducks apart from its competitors, as their flashiness and variability immediately drew in continuous attention from media outlets all across the country. The most significant impact resulting from this is that the uniforms became an extremely appealing feature to prospective recruits who are seeking to join a program built with exhilaration at its core.

A second crucial approach that the University of Oregon takes when it comes to marketing its athletic programs is utilizing the Junior Duck Club. Geared toward young fans under the age of 12, this program is sponsored by various area businesses and offers multiple perks to members who pay the $10 entry fee. These benefits include a free t-shirt, a birthday card from the Duck, an option to purchase one football ticket for only $25, and an official membership card for Oregon events. In addition, members enjoy priority general admission to most athletic events and the opportunity to purchase tickets for two non-conference Men’s Basketball games. This serves as a great way to build a loyal Oregon fan base from one generation to the next.

Oregon Duck Club

Another marketing tactic that is key to the Ducks’ success is their strong social media presence, mainly through Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat. They employ techniques such as appealing infographics, in-depth game breakdowns, and social media campaigns to increase the awareness of their brand. In the 2014 College Football season, the hashtag #GoDucks was the most tweeted team hashtag among all college football teams, proving the point that Oregon is among the top brands in intercollegiate athletics. While the Ducks are in action on the field, the social media team is hard at work providing creative content, live updates, and visually captivating graphics to attract new fans and maintain current fans who follow them on social media. These social media interactions consist of coach and player interviews, new uniform reveals, and highlight videos.


-Collin Wallace

Western State’s Use of Social Media

With the ever-increasing presence of social media in today’s society, it is extremely important that collegiate athletic programs take advantage of these platforms as a means of communicating with their audience. Social media marketing is an inexpensive yet highly effective way for these schools to provide followers with in-game statistics, team news and updates, and other engaging content. Western State Colorado University is a Division-II college in Gunnison, Colorado that serves as a prime example for how these social networks can be correctly employed to help promote college athletics. The Mountaineers primarily utilize Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to cover their 11 varsity teams.

Western_State_Mountaineers logo

Western’s Facebook page, Western State Mountaineers, provides lots of useful information to its 5,177 followers in its “About” page, including a contact details, a link to the athletics website, and a list of varsity sports offered at the University. It also shares that the Mountaineers compete in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and have won 15 national championships and 93 RMAC awards since 1911. Their Facebook features multiple videos of game highlights, player and coach interviews, and season previews. There are also a number of photos that are shared through this account, including in-game action shots, game summaries, and team posters. In addition to multimedia, the Mountaineers’ Facebook is also a useful tool for providing other information about the athletic teams, such as All-Conference and All-American announcements and post-game news stories.


“Suns Out Guns Out” poster created for Mountaineers wrestling that appeared on the official athletics Facebook page

Western Mountaineers, the University’s official athletics Twitter account, consists of 2,490 followers and contains the widest variety of multimedia out of all three of Western’s social media accounts. From photos and videos to GIF’s and memes, the Mountaineers’ Twitter carries its own “personality”, as it provides a mix of entertainment and information all in one account. This entertainment may include humorous memes or GIF’s related to something within Western’s athletic programs. It also allows for the greatest amount of interaction with fans, given the fact that responding to Tweets is fast and easy to carry out on Twitter.

The Mountaineers’ Instagram account, Western State Mountaineers, is a great tool for building the athletic programs by visually capturing the attention of fans. Similar to its other social media platforms, their Instagram is full of pictures and videos of special events, upcoming competitions, game recaps, and team posters. The variety of content helps to keep things from being overly repetitive, therefore maintaining the viewers’ engagement.

Aerial Photograph of Western Campus

Aerial view of the Western State Colorado University campus in Gunnison, CO (via Photoshelter)

If I could change one thing about the Mountaineers’ social media usage, I would like to see them post content multiple times each day. By doing this regularly, I think that fans will feel more up to date with what is going on in Western’s athletics. As a result, they may be more likely to attend games and become more invested in the program. However, after examining all of the social media accounts of Western State Colorado University Athletics, I believe that they do a great job of informing, updating, and entertaining their followers. This is especially impressive since their teams compete at the NCAA Division-II level, where some of the marketing opportunities that are used at the Division-I level are not available.


-Collin Wallace



Cleveland Indians’ Impact in the Community

One of the greatest qualities of professional sports teams is their ability to reach millions of fans on the local, national, and international levels. While this opens up many opportunities for sponsorship, ticket sales, and promotional activities, these teams are also able to harness their resources to make a lasting impact in the surrounding community. The Cleveland Indians, my favorite Major League Baseball team, currently operate multiple initiatives centered around the motive of spreading goodwill throughout Cleveland and the state of Ohio in general.

One of the primary outreach programs of the Indians organization is known as Tribe Scholars. This is a brand new education program in which the Cleveland Indians partner with teachers and principals of inner-city schools to promote youth education. Students in grades 6-8 who exhibit grade improvements or high marks in English/Language Arts classes and maintain a strong attendance record are offered promotional items and tickets to a game on Tribe Scholars Day, while participating schools will also receive visits from players and Slider the mascot.

Tribe Scholars

Slider, the Cleveland Indians mascot, poses for photographs with children enrolled in the Tribe Scholars Program (via

A primary focus of the Indians’ community service efforts include improving the quality of youth baseball in the city of Cleveland, through programs such as Indians Youth Baseball and Fields for the Future. Indians Youth Baseball offers multiple options for young ballplayers in the Cleveland community to improve their abilities and exposure to the team through youth baseball camps, advanced development camps, and the “Progressive Field of Dreams Experience” where children are treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of Progressive Field, a game of catch on the field with their parent or guardian, and a Q & A autograph session with a current Indians player or coach. Fields for the Future occurs through a partnership with the city and Business Volunteers Unlimited to fully renovate youth baseball fields in Cleveland. Each year, one heavily-used field in poor condition is selected to receive a complete makeover. Upgrades include re-grading the field, building a pitcher’s mound, constructing benches, painting bleachers, and putting up brand new fencing. Marc Bona, an author for, offers details and photographs from the 2015 Fields for the Future site in the 2015 season in this article.

The Cleveland Indians support a number of additional community initiatives as well, including those supporting service, sustainability, heath, and fitness. One of the more popular service programs is known as the Lindor Smile Squad, which provides children with disabilities the opportunities to compete state-wide in Miracle League baseball. The Indians began a partnership with this organization at the start of the 2016 season, and is led by Indians all-star shortstop Francisco Lindor as the primary player ambassador. Miracle League helps build special facilities to meet the needs of these players, and during each homestand one Miracle League family will be selected during batting practice to take part in a unique Progressive Field experience. The facility has also offered recycling areas since its inception in 1994, therefore serving as an example of a sustainability program that helps reduce pollution and achieve a cleaner ecosystem. TeamSmile is a model of a major health and fitness program made possible by a partnership between the Indians, local dentists, and P&G that aims to issue dental services for 350 children enrolled in the Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland.


-Collin Wallace

The Starting Five: Using the Senses in Sports Branding

Allow me to let you in on a (not so secret) secret…I LOVE watching sports. But did you know that I can also taste, hear, feel, and smell sports, and that you can too? This is not thanks to some sort of superpower, but rather because a correctly branded sports organization takes advantage of all five of the human senses to construct the ultimate fan experience.


Believe it or not, one of the most effective methods to enhance a fan’s experience is by targeting their sense of smell, as this is one of the most complex senses that the body possesses. In fact, according to Martin Lindstrom on DesignMantic, “75% of the emotions we generate on a daily basis are affected by smell.” Also, the Sense of Smell Institute found that “a human being can remember up to 10,000 different odors that can elicit different memories; sometimes transporting us all the way back to our childhood.” Therefore, specific smells within a sports facility may be attractive to fans, such as the aroma of popcorn in a basketball arena or freshly cut grass at a ballpark. Pleasant smells such as these remind people of that particular place, causing people to want to attend these events when they come across that smell in the future.


Properly utilizing sound is yet another way for sports brands to improve their overall perception within a fan’s mind. Teams may decide to play popular songs before an athletic event, or add exciting music to their television advertisements to hype up viewers, causing them to want to experience a game for themselves. Some sports brands even use unique sounds within the game itself to interest fans, such as the ringing bell sound that commonly plays during third down at football games. According to research by Suvi Saarikallio, “music is found to increase physiological arousal, affect our moods, self-regulate our emotions, and even to affect us physically by alleviating or escalating our heart rates.” For example, if you have ever attended a high school or college basketball game, there is a good chance that you may have witnessed or been a part of the intimidating “I Believe That We Will Win” chant. This demonstration by fans of the Utah State University basketball team is one of the most energy-driven of them all, and makes it clear that the gameday atmosphere is nothing short of electric:


Visual marketing is an extremely powerful component of fan experience in its own right, and is arguably the most important factor in how a consumer percieves a particular sports brand. The Sensory Design Research Lab at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design found estimated that “83% of the information people retain is received visually”, therefore proving that teams should place great emphasis on making all aspects of their product visually appealing. This process starts with developing a logo and color scheme that gives the team its own identity, therefore sticking in the consumers’ heads. For example, the color most closely associated with “Sky Blue” is referred to by many as “Carolina Blue” as a result of excellent visual branding by the University of North Carolina Tarheels. From here, the team increases their awareness by placing their school colors and logo on their uniforms, facilities, and memorabilia.


One of the simplest yet most effective ways to target consumers’ sense of taste is through the concessions offered at games. The satisfaction that an individual receives from consuming food and drink during the game plays an important role in a fan’s overall experience. Casual, low-commitment fans are especially variable in this category, as they are much more likely to base their gameday experience on the products such as concession options rather than the game itself. One way that the Arizona Diamondbacks helped compensate for their 69-93 record in the 2016 MLB season was through the introduction of their very own “Churro Dog”, a cinnamon churro served in a doughnut with frozen yogurt, caramel and chocolate syrup. Because the team was struggling to get fans in the seats, they offered this new and unique ballpark food in hopes of drawing more fans to their games to give the one and only Churro Dog a try for themselves.

Churro Dog

The Churro Dog, offered during the Arizona Diamondbacks 2016 season (source: Phoenix New Times)


The sensation of touch can be included in sports branding as well. One of the most important ways that sports teams use touch to generate a strong fan experience is through the comfort of their facility. Generally, people will be more inclined to attend sporting events if they will be observing the game in comfort, such as sitting in chairs with raised backs instead of basic metal bleacher seats. In addition, touch can be used through meet-and-greet sessions between fans and players. Allowing fans to physically shake a hand or take a picture with one of their favorite players gives them the feeling of intimacy, helping fans identify with them on a more personal level.

I believe that West Virginia Wesleyan athletics can take these ideas and make use of the five senses to produce a more positive fan experience. Bobcats basketball, for instance, could develop a new and intriguing concession product to sell at their games, just as the Arizona Diamondbacks did last season. This would be an unordinary way to capture fans’ taste, especially for a school at the Division II level. If the food catches on and the word spreads, it could potentially result in national attention, therefore helping awareness of WVWC athletics skyrocket. My suggestion for how Wesleyan basketball could take advantage of the visual aspect is by developing new neon orange uniforms that draw in the attention of fans. Also, developing a fight song can serve as a way to build recognition of the program, so people will think of WVWC athletics whenever they hear the tune being played. Smell can be controlled by ensuring that the facility is clean for game time, and that the appealing aroma of concessions is the only smell that stands out to fans. Finally, the basketball program can enhance the gameday experience through the addition of more comfortable chair-style seats as opposed to bleacher seats. The details may seem insignificant, but when combined properly, focusing on the consumers’ senses can aid in building a strong and well-rounded sports brand.


-Collin Wallace

Engagement, Engagement, Engagement

The key to a successful sports franchise is winning games, right? Actually, this is not necessarily the case, so don’t be so fast to jump to this conclusion. While spending time in the win column is undoubtedly one of the best ways to build a strong team and fan base, a series of other victories must occur within the program itself. The internal decisions that a sports organization makes can create just as powerful an impact as the performance of the players who compete day in and day out.

Michael Grahl, Vice President of Digital Platforms for the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, provides a detailed account of this idea in the following video. If you would like to watch it, you may do so below:

Grahl gave this speech in 2014 at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater to students attending the American Marketing Association Regional Conference. At the time the Bucks were struggling through their season, finishing with an underwhelming 15-67 record and last in the NBA. As a result, the organization was forced to come up with creative new ways to gain and maintain fans despite the actual performance of the team. Grahl said that he responded by focusing a majority of the team’s marketing efforts on the young talent that would be on display in the next season, headlined by Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker. Antetokounmpo, better known as “The Greek Freak”, is a 6’11” forward and ultra-athletic big man from Greece. He was drafted 15th overall by Milwaukee in 2013. Parker, a well-rounded point guard from Duke University, was selected by the Bucks as the second overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft. Together, these two highly-touted prospects helped generate a great sense of excitement among Bucks fans, providing them with a renewed hope for a bright future. In fact, Grahl said that the buzz around these players was so significant that the official team website experienced a 10% increase in traffic following the 2013-14 season, despite the fact that they only managed to manufacture 15 wins in 82 games.

Parker and Greek Freak.jpg

Jabari Parker (left) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (right) are positioned as the future of the Milwaukee Bucks in this 2014 social media advertisement.

Another important point that Grahl continuously emphasizes throughout his speech is the need to make players accessible to the fans. One way the Bucks accomplish this is through social media. For example, every season the team’s Instagram activates a countdown for the home opener, posting a different photo each day of a Bucks player holding a sign with the number of days left. This helps capture the personality of the players which helps fans to identify with them on a more intimate level. Also, players are periodically given access to the Snapchat account throughout the season. Meet-and-greets and autograph sessions are also very common as they present fans with the opportunity to physically interact with players on a one-on-one basis, leaving a lasting impression in the individual’s mind. All of these tools are extremely useful in building relationships with the fans, which is a crucial step in improving the overall perception of the organization.


Milwaukee Bucks forward Thon Maker meets with a young fan at the “Own the Future” tour in Dodgeville, Wisconsin.

Division II colleges like West Virginia Wesleyan might want to take notes from the Bucks’ genius marketing strategy. In general, sports at the Division II level are highly competitive and enjoyable to watch. The financial resources of these athletic departments, however, are usually not as substantial as the larger and more popular Division I programs that are able to allocate their money toward more advanced marketing tactics. Therefore, it is highly beneficial for these schools to practice grassroots techniques that focus on improving the fan experience in as many facets as possible.

One way Division II programs might achieve this is to fully take advantage of the opportunities that social media presents. Millions of people in today’s society use these platforms to stay connected, so they should be put to use as catalysts for exposing the messages that the athletic department is looking to convey. Upcoming games, promotions, statistics, and behind-the-scenes footage are just a few examples of a plethora of approaches to reaching the target audience digitally.

Another aspect of Grahl’s speech that Division II athletic programs should emphasize is the importance of offering frequent athlete-fan interaction. The possibilities are virtually endless when it comes to providing fans with a quality and memorable experiences. Autograph sessions, halftime contests, free t-shirt giveaways, and events within the local community are only a few ways that this can be carried out. Doing so is not only an effective way to get fans through the doors; it also supplies them with an added incentive to attend more games in the future.

Whether marketing sports at the Division II or the professional level, a majority of the success seen by the college or organization boils down to how well the experience is sold. No matter the situation, bonding with fans and giving them reasons to be enthusiastic about the team will forever be the leading way to build a strong and loyal fan base, win or lose.



-Collin Wallace

Sports Are For Everyone, Everywhere

Is it just me, or does is seem like sports are EVERYWHERE? One of the beauties of sports is that nearly anyone is capable of following or participating in them. Whether you are in line at the grocery store or eating Thanksgiving dinner, ask around and chances are most people will have at least one favorite team or has played a sport in their lifetime. There is something about sports that seems to captivate us as a society, and for each fan this “something” may carry a different meaning. That is where the sports marketing concept of segmentation comes in. Segmentation allows sports organizations break down their consumers based on their wants and desires from which they derive satisfaction. This process is characterized by two primary types of segmentation:

State-of-being segmentation: divides consumers up by personal characteristics, including geography, age, income, education, gender, race and ethnicity, and sexual orientation.

 State-of-mind segmentation: divides consumers by personality traits, by lifestyle characteristics such as interests, opinions and attitudes, and by preferences and perceptions. Determined through the use of the VALS typology, which identifies specific segments of adults based on resources and primary motivations, such as ideals, achievement, and self-expression.

When utilized properly, both segmentation types serve as extremely effective methods for communicating to the intended audience. To evidence this point, take a look at the television advertisement aired this January by my favorite National Hockey League team, the Columbus Blue Jackets:

One of the most obvious takeaways from this commercial is that the dramatic music, scenes, and cinematography are designed to create a feeling of intensity and excitement within the viewer. There are also multiple clips of fans cheering and dancing, including an appearance by Stinger, the team mascot. This combination effectively communicates to fans that Blue Jackets home games consist of a fun and exciting environment. When looking at the team’s state-of-being segmentation, this suggests that the advertisement is targeted toward fans whose age ranges from late childhood to middle aged adulthood. This conveys the message that children can attend games and have fun, while teenagers and adults can enjoy an invigorating, wild atmosphere. In addition, this commercial successfully targets multiple income levels by showing fans of varying degrees of commitment. Some are presumably highly committed, as their jerseys might suggest, while others are seen wearing regular t-shirts. This demonstrates the idea that Blue Jackets games, while highly entertaining, are still affordable enough for less committed fans to attend. The advertisement also shows fans of varying races and genders, implying that all fans are welcome and capable of enjoying the gameday experience regardless of these personal traits.

Of all eight segments identified by the VALS typology in state-of-mind segmentation, this advertisement mostly targets individuals within the experiencers segment. Experiencers are motivated by self-expression, and tend to have lots of energy that they exert into physical and social activity. In the context of this advertisement it is clear that many of the Blue Jackets fans possess these characteristics, as evidenced by the chaos that erupts when a goal is scored and other antics showcased by the fans. This is a powerful reinforcement of the message the organization is attempting to communicate.

Now we will analyze this Blue Jackets poster advertisement, promoting a student discount program called CBJ Student Rush:


By taking advantage of CBJ Student Rush program, all high school and college students can purchase $15 Upper Level tickets and $25 Lower Level tickets to all Blue Jackets home games. A free offer from Papa John’s is also included, and who loves sports and pizza more than college students? I can answer that from personal experience- absolutely nobody! Therefore, this is a well-designed promotional tactic employed by both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Papa John’s. The state-of-being segmentation narrows the advertisement audience to high school and college-aged students, which in turn associates it with lower income levels as well. Many are on a budget, but a discounted ticket price and free Papa John’s provides a strong incentive for them to attend home games. This could result in a wider-reaching base of young, energetic fans- just what a sports organization needs to build toward the future. This offer is also available to any high school or college student currently enrolled in school, even if they are living or studying outside the state of Ohio. Therefore, the geographic segmentation of this advertisement is virtually wide open, allowing students from further distances to experience the many benefits of CBJ Student Rush as well.

When approaching this poster through the lens of state-of-mind segmentation, the makers classification is the directly targeted group. Makers are similar to experiencers in that they are motivated by self-expression, but are limited in the amount of resources they have. Therefore, these individuals tend to concentrate their efforts on building toward the future instead of spending all of the resources they have now. Given the financial situation of most students, many are forced to allocate their funds toward commodities such as tuition, gasoline, and food rather than toward tickets to a professional hockey game. Through the implementation of CBJ Student Rush, however, these individuals are provided with the opportunity to see the Blue Jackets in action without breaking the bank.

Although we only explored two advertisements in this week’s post, it is clear to see that a single sports organization is capable of reaching various groups based on the segmentation used in their advertising. Everything from pump-up commercials to special offer posters can be used to reach specific clusters of individuals, which can ultimately be brought together to form a loyal, involved, and diverse fan base.


-Collin Wallace

Emotion in Sports Commercials: Best Way to Gain Fans?

This Sunday, the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots will clash in the highly anticipated Super Bowl LI in the final step towards the coveted Lombardi Trophy. The Super Bowl is one of the most celebrated sporting events in the United States, as last year’s matchup drew 111.9 million total viewers, according to Statista. As a result, corporations are presented with a prime opportunity to reach a high level of exposure through the utilization of television commercial advertisements during the game broadcast. A detailed report by Fortune explains that a 30-second commercial could be obtained for a whopping $5 million during last year’s Super Bowl. Given these staggering numbers, the effectiveness of the commercials is a critical determinant of whether these corporations experience a significant increase in sales and publicity.

football fans

One key component when it comes to commercial advertising is its ability to gauge the interest of the viewer, even if he or she does not exactly fit into the company’s target market. When examined from a sports marketing perspective, new customers may be gained if they feel inspired in some way to follow or participate in a specific sport. Prospective consumers may be influenced to purchase a sports product if manipulated by specific internal or external factors. Additionally, consumers may develop an interest in a sport or sports product through a fundamental marketing concept known as the Learning Theory, which explains three basic characteristics that may occur in any  order to influence the consumers’ involvement in a sport. These types of involvement are known as behavioral, cognitive, and affective involvement.


Behavioral involvement includes physically participating in the sport through practice or competition, or in a fan’s scenario entails rooting for their team at home or at the competition itself.

Cognitive involvement entails educating oneself in order to gain more information and knowledge about a specific sport. Individuals may utilize sources such as the internet, sports networks, and game broadcasts to further increase their understanding of the rules, traditions, and significance of that sport.

Affective involvement deals with the attitudes, feelings and emotions that a consumer has toward a sport, which may include pre-game tailgating, watch parties, or fan superstitions. Many sports corporations use this technique in commercials to tap into the viewers’ emotions, therefore producing within them a desire to follow that sport and purchase that company’s product or products.


An excellent example of how these factors influence a consumer’s buying decision is seen in this 2011 New Balance television advertisement entitled “Tell Me”, featuring Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia:

Of the three components that form the Learning Theory, this commercial places strong emphasis on the idea of cognitive involvement. It is intended to stir the viewers’ emotions, as the 5’9″ All-Star rattles off multiple statements that he has heard over the years from people who doubt his ability because of his lack of height. Pedroia is seen overcoming these criticisms throughout the commercial, in turn generating a supportive reaction from the viewer. This is a beneficial marketing technique for New Balance because they will likely gain customers who want to start playing baseball despite any personal doubts they have had in the future. It may make the viewer think, “if this 5’9″ man is one of the elite players in baseball, and wears New Balance cleats while doing it, then maybe I should purchase a pair and give it a shot too!” From here, the consumer will likely exercise cognitive involvement in order to grasp the overall concept of the game, and ultimately reach behavioral involvement when they begin practicing baseball and playing in games.

A series of individual and environmental factors influence the behaviors of the consumer as well. The most obvious individual factor of consumers based off this commercial is his or her motivation. Those who purchased New Balance cleats after seeing this advertisement likely did so because they buy into the “underdog” concept that Pedroia models. Of all the environmental factors that influence consumers to purchase the product, market behavior is likely the most important, since much of fan behavior relates to the success of their favorite players. New Balance adequately harnesses this fact through the endorsement of Dustin Pedroia in their “Tell Me” advertisement, as he is one of the most talented and beloved players in all of Major League Baseball.



-Collin Wallace

One Action, Multiple Consequences: Rutgers Coach Hurts Players, Team and School

It is no secret that sports play a significant role in the United States’ current society. Every year, the total revenue generated by sports increases drastically, as this industry represents one of the fastest growing markets in the world. A recent report by Forbes estimated that the North American sports market was worth $60.5 billion in 2014, and is estimated to arrive at a whopping $73.5 billion by the year 2019. It is expected that approximately $20.6 billion of this total will come from sports media rights, therefore expanding the coverage and importance of media with sporting events and teams. This suggests that the business side of sports is crucial to the success of a particular sports organization, from the performance of coaches and athletes up to the team’s promotional strategies. Given this fact, every action that occurs within the organization has the potential to create either a positive or negative impact on its overall image.

mike-rice-shoesRutgers University men’s basketball coach Mike Rice is a prominent example of how a negative internal environment can harm a sports organization’s reputation. In April of 2013, Rice was fired after a video surfaced on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines”, which showed him shoving and throwing basketballs at players during a team practice. He also included multiple gay slurs in his dialogue toward his players, which ultimately sparked widespread controversy around the nation. This language-censored video can be seen here, but take caution as viewer discretion is advised.

The practice tapes were first shown to Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti in November 2012, which led him to suspend Coach Rice for three games, fine him $50,000, and enroll him in anger management classes. Once the footage finally became public, however, the university faced heavy fire from fans, parents, and even LGBTQ equal rights groups. This left Tim Pernetti no option but to fire Rice from the position completely, despite still having two years left on his five-year head coaching contract. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie shared his thoughts on the situation as well, issuing this statement to the public: “Parents entrust their sons to the Rutgers athletic department and the men’s basketball program at an incredibly formative period of their lives. The way these young men were treated by the head coach was completely unacceptable and violates the trust parents put in Rutgers. All of the student-athletes entrusted to our care deserve much better.” Mike Rice’s inappropriate actions amplified an already growing disapproval from fans, as the team went 44-51 under his leadership, including compiling an underwhelming 17-39 record in Big East Conference play.

Despite the fact that Rice’s actions were his own, the effects of those actions stretch far beyond himself. One example of this can be found in Derrick Randall, a former player under Coach Rice who filed a lawsuit against him in December of 2013. In addition to Rice, Randall also cited the university, Rutgers president Robert Barchi, athletic director Tim Pernetti, and three others as defendants in the case. Also after Rice’s firing, four players from the Scarlet Knights basketball team transferred to another school, including top 25 recruit Eli Carter. Three more players were lost after Eddie Jordan took the helm for the 2013-2014, providing further evidence of the players’ lack of desire to remain in the crumbling program. It is clear that Rutgers University is now faced with lasting backlash from the incident, thus unfortunately impairing the prestige of the men’s basketball program, the athletic department, and the school altogether. A conscious effort must be made by Rutgers University and its basketball program to restore its credibility and erase its tainted past. It may be a long and difficult rebuilding process, but it is important to remember that most good things take time.



-Collin Wallace


Welcome to the League

My name is Collin Wallace, and I would first like to take the opportunity to thank you for visiting my sports marketing blog, World Series of Marketing. My intent is to utilize this blog so that it provides an in-depth analysis of the crucial role that marketing plays in the wide world of sports. Professional sports teams, college teams, and many other sports organizations use sports marketing in order to gain and maintain customers, create personal relationships, and ultimately generate a profit. World Series of Marketing is dedicated to the examination of some of the major facets that compose sports marketing, as well as provide real-world scenarios in which these components are applied. This blog will be updated every week, with each post focusing on a different area of sports marketing, including advertising, sponsorships, and marketing strategies. Additionally, some of today’s most successful sports organizations will broken down from a marketing standpoint to expose crucial aspects that contribute to the success of that organization.

One of the easiest ways to keep up with posts from World Series of Marketing is to follow my personal social media accounts on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and/or Snapchat. Each week that I publish a new post to this blog, I will place a link through these programs in order to serve as a notification that the new content has been posted. My social media info is as follows:

  1. Instagram: ib_shaggy13 
  2. Twitter: ib_shaggy13
  3. Facebook: Collin Wallace
  4. Snapchat: rolltribe13

Now for a little bit about me! I am currently a sophomore at West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon, West Virginia. I am a member of the Men’s Cross Country and Track teams, competing in long distance events such as the 8k in cross country and the 5k/10k in track. I am a Sport Business major, and am presently on track to earn a Master’s degree in Business Administration through Wesleyan’s five-year MBA program. Two of my biggest passions are sports and outdoor recreation, so one of my primary goals in life is to have a hands-on job within one of these disciplines. Due to the broad opportunities for employment in the field of sport business, I have yet to decide on a specific career. I am, however, required as a Sport Business major to obtain an internship before graduation. Therefore, I am considering a possible with college athletic department, a minor or major league baseball team, or a four-seasons resort.

Although I am not fully capable of controlling my future after leaving Wesleyan, my ideal scenario would include living in the city of Loveland, Colorado. With a population of approximately 72,000 residents, this beautiful mountain town possesses a relatively low cost of living and is located less than an hour from the cities of Denver, Fort Collins, and Boulder. The close proximity to Denver would provide plenty of employment opportunities in professional sports, given the fact that the city is home to MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL teams (Rockies, Broncos, Nuggets, and Avalanche, respectively). If I end up pursuing a career in college athletics, the University of Colorado and Colorado State University, located in Boulder and Fort Collins, respectively, are less than a 45 minute commute from Loveland. A career in outdoor recreation could be fulfilled through working at one of several Colorado ski resorts or at Rocky Mountain National Park, all of which are located within an hour of the city.

Now that you know a little bit more about me and my sports marketing blog, I sincerely hope that you enjoy this page and check back often. Feel free to share World Series of Marketing with others, as well as engage with and provide feedback on this blog. It is my mission to provide you, the reader, with high-quality, detailed information on the various ways in which marketing plays a substantial role in sports, whether professional or amateur. Thank you!



-Collin Wallace