Over the last two decades Asia --- home to 3.5 billion people --- has become the most important driver in global economic growth. A recent article in the New York Times proclaimed that the global balance of power has forever been altered due to the rapid economic development in the Asian region — starting with Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, then extending to Hong Kong and Singapore and finally taking hold in India and China. Indeed, Asia now boasts 4 of the world's 12 largest economies—Japan, China, India and Korea.
In conjunction with this new found economic vitality has come an amplified interest in sports driven by increased funding from governments for grassroots, participatory sporting programs and infrastructure. Major global events such as the World Cup in Japan/Korea and the Beijing Olympics have created a new generation of Asian stars that are inspiring the younger generation toward athletic achievement.
The Asian region is now ripe for multinational companies to utilize sports as a platform to build brand awareness. Lisa Johnson, Asia director of the GMR Marketing agency, stated to the Campaign Asia Pacific that sports marketing gives brands "a unique opportunity to have a conversation within consumers' hearts and minds, and to build a personal relationship and loyalty to the brand through sports."
AON, the leading global provider of risk management and insurance, has recently spent hundreds of millions of dollars in a sponsorship arrangement with Manchester United. AON has successfully utilized the partnership to connect with a vast new consumer base by tapping into Asia’s passion for soccer. By utilizing summer tours of Asia by Manchester United, AON has been able to activate and build new relationships all across the region.
We have merely seen the tip of the iceberg as it relates to sports marketing spending for the region. As sports becomes more and more popular in the future – for example, soccer viewership of the top professional league was up 53% in 2012 – more multinational companies will want to build a stake in the region, the amount of money invested in sports marketing is sure to rise exponentially.
Direct quote was sourced from Warc , 27 March 2013
IMAGES: http://www.aon.com/manchesterunited/ - Google Images
Nike showed great wisdom this week when it suspended their relationship with Oscar Pistorius, the double amputee “Blade Runner” from South Africa who has been accused of murdering his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine’s Day. Making the decision to cut ties with a celebrity athlete is more difficult than you might think. The Tiger Woods scandal a few years back clearly demonstrated the conundrum that companies experience. Some companies, like Accenture completely cut ties with Tiger Woods while others like Nike remained “faithful”. Nike chairman, Phil Knight, even went so far as to say it is “all part of the game” and referred to Wood’s “indiscretions as a minor blip”. But since that decision Nike seems to have changed their tune --- choosing to drop both Lance Armstrong and Pistorius. So what changed? Did Nike’s internal research discover the Tiger Wood’s decision damaged the brand? We will probably never know.
However, recent research published in academic marketing journals demonstrates that a company’s brand image can experience significant and long-term damage when a celebrity endorser commits a highly visible moral failure. In such instances, it is critical that companies act quickly and decisively when faced with this sort of advertising tsunami.
Corporations utilize celebrities because of their ability to create a “personality” for their brand. When a celebrity is repeatedly paired with a brand, his image helps shape the image of that brand in the minds of consumers. And in the most successful brand/celebrity endorsement relationships, consumers will ultimately transfer these bundles of meaning out of the products and into their own lives.
However, research now shows that when negative meanings become part of the celebrity’s bundle of meanings, consumers will metaphorically transfer the meanings into their perception of the product as well. Thus, the negative celebrity information has the potential to not only affect how consumers feel about the celebrity, but it can also affect their feelings toward the product the celebrity is promoting. Out of psychological self-preservation, consumers will often shun the once preferred brand because they do not want the new negative bundle of meaning to transfer into their own lives.
Companies that do not quickly cut ties with morally damaged celebrities risk a significant decline in sales through the infection of their brand. In addition long-term damage to brand image and an overall decline in brand equity are likely.
My guess? That’s precisely what Nike discovered in the months following the Tiger Wood’s decision.
Images courtesy of Google Images
Video courtesy of Nike