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The role of ‘innovation’ in brandbuilding in the business of sports.

The influx of new technologies marks an essential change in the ways in which people can interact with sport brands. The Internet and social media play central roles in this development for what reason new trends in consumer behavior in reference to sport brands have evolved.

Such development is linked to innovation and entrepreneurship, which act as positive and reinforcing factors concerning the rapid growth of sport branding as a discipline, which stimulates a large variety of stakeholders. Reflecting upon the development in sport branding, I cannot help mentioning Mark McCormack and IMG. McCormack’s company IMG came up with new standards for sport branding and added professional structure and commercialization to the representation and branding of professional athletes and sport entities. Thus, McCormack and IMG established ‘innovation’ as a determining force for sport branding and became a clear ‘benchmark example’ to follow when emphasizing the role of ‘profitable experiences’ in the business of sports, i.e. the integration of experience economy in the business of sports. The junction of sports and experiences gave evidence to the significance of ‘entertainment as added value to actors, which do business in or through the stage of sports’. What distinguished McCormack from other practitioners in sport branding was that he (at an early point in time = ‘first-mover’ effects) saw the potential of elements such as for commercialization, event production and new technologies (all aspects of what led to the conceptualization of ‘experience economy’) as building blocks for a successful sport branding process.

Take a look at the videos below:

The videos shows the ‘Skins Game’, which IMG constructed and marketed. The event acted as an ‘unofficial’ money event on the PGA Tour, which took place from 1983 (Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, and Tom Watson participated) to 2008 after the end of the PGA Tour season. PGA. In that regard, McCormack was very competent in finding ‘promotional means’ for athletes represented by IMG. Thus, he knew the importance of providing ‘openness and differentiation in regards to the brand experience’ as it relates to sport properties. The ‘Skins Game’ found a point of differentiation in the way that only 4 golfers took part in the tournament, which was centered around a format where the golfers played to win each hole (‘skins’). Each hole was allocated a different economic value and the golfer, who won the hole took the money. If players tied, the ‘skins’ were allocated to the following hole (in the case of a tie concerning the last hole, the golfers had to win another hole in a playoff/extra play). The prize money followed a progressional development so that the money increased over the course of the tournament, i.e. the 18th hole had a higher economic value than the 1st hole.

Interesting facts about the ‘Skins Game’:

Fred Couples was branded Mr. Skins due to his dominance in the ‘Skins Game’.

In 2009, the ‘Skins Game’ was cancelled in 2009 after Korean-based LG Electronics, see more.


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