About me

describe the image

Dr. Darin White twitter  linkedin

Professor of Marketing & Sports Marketing Program Coordinator

Professor White brings you his unique academic slant on the business side of the multi-billion dollar global sports industry.

Learn more about our program in Sports Marketing.

Learn more about Samford.

Slide1 resized 255

Subscribe via E-mail to the Sports Marketing Blog

Your email:

My Twitter Feed

Fill out the form below to hear tips from Rich McKay, president and CEO of the Atlanta Falcons, on breaking into the sports industry.

Sports Marketing @BrockBusiness

Current Articles | RSS Feed RSS Feed

Nike Takes First Shot in FIFA World Cup Battle Against Adidas


describe the image

According to FIFA the cumulative audiences who will watch the 64 matches of the 2014 FIFA World Cup held in Brazil this summer are expected to be in excess of 26 billion. And the World Cup Finals are expected to be seen live by nearly half of the earth’s total population.  The World Cup offers global companies a rare opportunity to connect with customers all over the world. 


Nike and Adidas are spending millions in their own private battle for World Cup supremacy. Yesterday Nike fired the first shot with the release of its #RiskEverything campaign which encourages soccer players worldwide to share their own personal soccer highlights at http://nike.com/riskeverything. The campaign features three of the top offensive players in the world: Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar.  The ad had more than 2.2 million views in the first 24 hours it was posted to Youtube.  You can view the ad here: Nike Risk Everything Ad.

Changing of the Guard in $5 Billion Soccer Industry?

Adidas and Nike dominate the soccer gear industry which is worth more than $5 billion annually. They fight for the title of market leader in the supply of soccer shoes and jerseys to fans inspired by stars from all over the world.  While Nike has the three Soccer stars mentioned above, Adidas is sponsored by Lionel Messi from Argentina who is widely considered one of the top 3 greatest soccer players of all time.  Adidas regards soccer "as its territory and wants to avoid being overtaken by younger but larger American rival Nike, as has happened in other sports" according to Reuters.

Nike and Adidas Own a Combined 80% Market Share with Puma in a Distant Third Place

Adidas CEO Herbert Hainer: "Forget all you may have heard or written about a weak adidas performance in football in 2013. We are leading this category that is so close to the Adidas DNA." However, Hainer conceded that "competition is fierce, with the top two brands sharing upwards of 80 percent of the market" for many football products. Nike "has built its business swiftly," having gotten heavily involved in football only 20 years ago when the World Cup was first played in the U.S.  Nike generates $2B in revenues from the sport and "calls itself the leading soccer brand." Nike will provide kit for hosts Brazil, as well as, 10 of the 32 finalists this year -- "outscoring Adidas and Puma in that regard."


Adidas, Nike Set To Battle For Global Football Market In World Cup Year via @sbjsbd

Photo Courtesy of Nike.

The Best College Team Money Can Buy



NCAAmoneyMLB Executive and Samford University Alum Giovanni Hernandez Comments on Unionization of College Players


Although not affiliated with college sports, I sat back this afternoon and couldn’t believe the headline, “Northwestern players get union vote.”  Of course this is secondary news to “Collision Course": Miami Heat v. Pacers” on some websites, but what does this mean for college athletics as a whole?  Surely in the grand scheme of things it will mean more than a meaningless regular season game right?  Student athletes winning the right today to be called “employees” opens Pandora’s Box to so many issues.  Does this mean a coach can call a player in and say, “Sorry bud, you just aren’t cutting it anymore… you’re fired!”  Does said player get to pack up his bag, Call Coach John Doe at Rival State University and sign on to quarterback the big game against his former school with the playbook still fresh in his mind?  Do players now have to sign “non-compete” clauses saying “If you get fired, you can’t go play for Rival State University, or any of these other 10 schools.”

Will large private universities now be able to “buy” the best rosters?  Although this ruling only applies to private universities, does this give the green light to large public programs to start paying their players as well?


The Europeanization of College Sports?

                  On a different note, does this open the possibility to pro teams “buying” players at a younger age and paying for their college before owning their rights at a professional level (think European soccer… or soccer anywhere outside of the U.S. for that matter)?  If student athletes are considered employees, I imagine this would take away the term “amateur” which affects eligibility to play college sports in the first place.  Could we see a pro basketball team sign a kid at 12 years of age, pay for him to attend Duke and promise Duke to cover all expenses associated with that player until he’s ready to join the pro team?  Will kids attending the University of Alabama in a few years be donning their NFL employer colors of choice during warm-ups before strapping on the Bama head gear?

                  I definitely don’t have the answer to where this will all go, but I feel like I just saw the first episode of a really cool new show that I never thought I’d be seeing.  I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to tune in for the next episode!

If you haven’t seen the story click here: ESPN Story

Giovanni Hernandez is currently the Manager of International Baseball Operations for Major League Baseball.  In his role, Giovanni oversees the International Player Registration process which has seen over 3,000 international baseball players register with MLB over the past year in the hopes of signing professional contracts one day.  Prior to his time with MLB, Giovanni spent five years as the Scouting Assistant, International Operations for the Detroit Tigers. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in 2007 from Samford University’s Brock School of Business and a Master’s degree from St. Thomas University (FL) in 2009. A native of Caguas, Puerto Rico, Giovanni currently resides in Astoria, New York.

You can connect with Giovanni on Twitter (@samford2007) or on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/giovannihernandez/     

Photo courtesy of Google.




March Madness and College Basketball Finally Riding High on Social Media Wave


Social media sports fans

College basketball attendance which has been on a downward spiral for several seasons may have finally righted the ship thanks in part to a renewed emphasis on social media fan engagement by power conferences, league commissioners and team sports marketers nationwide.  According to SRBnet figures, college basketball attendance rose from a low of 12.9 million in 2012 to 14.1 million in 2013.  This represents a 9.3% increase in attendance which is rather dramatic given the decline in attendance that has been experienced all across the world of sports of the last five years. 

Most of the growth in attendance can be attributed to an increased interest in the “social media generation”.  The 13 – 17 demographic group saw a 37.7% increase in attendance at college basketball games year over year.  Additionally, the college-aged and young adult demographic saw a 7.5% increase in attendance.  Almost 90% of the people in these two cohorts who actively use the internet are on social media a lot, to the tune of 2 to 4 hours per day on everything from Instagram to Foursquare.  College basketball’s social initiatives to reach the social media generation seem to be working.  For instance, the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament held in Atlanta last weekend showcased a number of new social strategies including an “improve your seat” social media contest. 

Staying on the Crest of the Social Media Wave Requires Constant Monitoring of Fan Social Behaviors

While college basketball seems to be moving in the right direction in regards to its social media strategy it isn’t time to rest on its laurels. Every season brings new social platforms and an increasingly complex social landscape as teams and leagues seek to engage fans.  As the chart below demonstrates, the way fans use their mobile devises and social applications continues to shift rather dramatically each season.  Gone are the days when fans show up at a college basketball game and merely watch the game.  Almost half of all college basketball fans say they “read a sports article or blog about the game” on their mobile devise while watching a game in 2013.  This represents a 21.7% increase from 2012.  Fans are increasingly using their mobile devises during the game for everything from “watching game-related video on YouTube” (23% increase from 2012 to 2013) to “buying sports logo apparel during the game” (58.2% increase from 2012 to 2013) to “using Twitter to follow/post about the game (20.3% increase from 2012 to 2013).  I give a big thumbs up to college basketball executives for recognizing the changing nature of fan engagement and shifting their strategy accordingly.  College basketball has become a model for the rest of the sports world as they seek to tackle to declining ticket sales conundrum.     

College Basketball Fans Mobile and Social Media Usage While Watching Game

Did You Do the Following During the College Basketball Game



% Change

Watched Game-Related Video on YouTube




Used Facebook to Follow/Post about the Game




Used Twitter to Follow/Post about the Game




Used Instagram to Follow/Post about the Game

No data



Used Google + to Follow/Post about the Game




Used Pinterest to Follow/Post about the Game




Used Tumblr to Follow/Post about the Game




Checked Scores of Games




Read Sports Articles/Blog About the Game




Visited Specific Team Website




Visited League Website




Bought Tickets to Game




Bought Sports Logo Apparel




Bought Sports Footwear




Followed Fantasy Teams





Sources: All data generated by Sports Business Research Network

Photo courtesy of Google. 




Fair-Weather Fans More Loyal To Their Team After a Big Loss Than Die-Hard Fans



describe the imageWhen your team wins a big game do you enjoy wearing the team team’s logo and colors out in public the next day?  Or if they lose do you avoid turning on ESPN so you won’t have to see highlights of the game?  If so, you have participated in what is known by sports business researchers as BIRGing and CORFing.  BIRGing , or “Basking in Reflected Glory”, represents how fans tend to publicize their connection to a winning team while CORFing, or “Cutting off Reflected Failure”, represents how fans distance themselves from unattractive and/or unsuccessful teams.  Without even realizing what they are doing, many fans will say “we won” after a big win but change to “they lost” after a big loss.

Recent research examined how these behaviors differ between different types of fans.  What do you think, do die-hard fans BIRG and CORF more than fair weathered fans?  Most people would say that fair weathered fans are more likely to CORF since their level of loyalty is so much lower than die-hard fans:   

It’s All About Fan Passion

The results of a recent study showed a sports fan's level of passion for the team is the strongest determinant of whether or not fans practice BIRGing and CORFing, i.e., highly passionate (die-hard) fans are more likely to BIRG and CORF regardless of gender.  Fans who strongly associate themselves with a team are the ones who BIRG after a win and CORF after a loss.  Gender is only important in that more males are die-hard fans; female die-hard fans practice BIRGing and CORFing at levels similar to male die-hard fans.  Interestingly, highly passionate fans tend to CORF more than lower passionate fans.  This finding flies in the face of conventional wisdom. 

  • So what do you think --- why do die-hard fans CORF more than fair weathered fans?  Here is a list of some of the things fans might do to CORF after a disappointing loss:
  • Avoid displaying the team logo where they live and work
  • Avoid reading stories online about the team
  • Avoid their family or close friends that are also fans of the team
  • Stop posting messages on social media about the team to show support for the team
  • Don’t watch highlights of the team after the game Don’t call fellow fans of the team to discuss the game
  • Stop “talking trash” to fans of other teams who have been defeated by their team earlier in season
Photo courtesy of Google. 

Predicting Championship Teams Using Bayes' Theorem (Infographic)



Nate Silver Time"How did Nate Silver, the “King of Quants,” get his name? “Quants” is the nerd name for quantitative analysts. He created Pecota, the most accurate baseball player performance forecasting system in the world. Silver also nearly perfectly predicted the results of the Presidential elections and Senate races of 2008 and 2012, and the NCAA Basketball Champion teams of 2012 and 2013. The math behind Silver’s predictive system is still unknown to the public, but it’s understood to be based on the Bayes’ Theorem.

This infographic uses an example of Bayes' Theorem to predict a Yankees win in a good season; using past performance, and past predicted win and loss statistic accuracy statistics together to find the probability of the Yankees winning their next game. Check it out below to learn more:

Click here for Infographic    


Photo of Nate Silver compliments of Time 









The New Frontier: Global Companies Turn to Sports Marketing to Engage Customers in Asia


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.  541px Location Asia svg  300x300Indeed, 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 aonManu01Asia 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

About Face! Nike Alters Crisis Management Approach After Tiger Woods



bladeNike 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 lanceact 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 tigertheir 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

All Posts