MEDIA: PERSPECTIVE; Sport’s where the excitement is for new-media gurus

Although the two occasionally intersect - at the Olympics or the World Cup - the universe of sports marketing exists parallel to our own. Yet these two sectors share more than the odd similarity: contacts are crucial, ideas are what make things happen and people break away to set up their own shops.

Although the two occasionally intersect - at the Olympics or the World

Cup - the universe of sports marketing exists parallel to our own. Yet

these two sectors share more than the odd similarity: contacts are

crucial, ideas are what make things happen and people break away to set

up their own shops.



In this sense, Rob Norman’s decision to pack his bags and join Prisma,

the ISL breakaway sports management outfit (Campaign, last week), is not

a complete leap into the unknown.



Still, we must ask ourselves, why would adland’s favourite new-media

whizz kid - a man, one could say, who has a brave new world at his feet

- want to make such a move?



One answer, of course, could be that he is mad. But those who know

Norman, a man one might best describe as the thinking person’s new-media

guru, will be aware that this is not the case.



A better answer, I think, is that for those who ply their trade in new

media, sport is where the action is. It is simply the sector where new

ideas and ways of advertising and marketing will be tested, and where

they are most likely to have the biggest impact.



And looking at it from the other side of the window, it is sport that

will offer advertisers, particularly the global brands chasing large

audiences, the marketing vehicles they crave.



A small paragraph in last weekend’s press about Nike signing up the

Brazilian football team for dollars 400 million gives us a clue. As part

of the deal, the story explained, Nike will have the right to host five

friendlies a season, featuring Brazil against teams from Europe, Asia or

the Americas. ‘Nike,’ the story continued, ‘...will also sell the TV

rights to the games it organises.’ This, in other words, is Nike as

media owner.



And where Nike leads, it won’t be long before Adidas, Reebok and Umbro

will follow. You can see it now: Adidas teams up with Germany, Reebok

with Holland, Umbro with Argentina and, before you know it, there’s a

mini tournament. Some boring friendlies with nothing at stake? Not on

your life. Nike lines up Sky, which markets the hell out of the games,

and off you go with other advertisers fighting to climb on the gravy

train. And that’s before you even get to the Websites and other new-

media paraphernalia. That’s the theory. But what is the true media price

of such a property to Nike? This, of course, is where Prisma and Norman

come in.



Down the road, however, one big question looms: what will the effect of

digital TV be on sport? It’s a bit of a puzzler. Digital is all about

narrowcasting but sports events, up to now at least, have been seen as

broadcast (in the true sense of the word) events. For advertisers such

as Nike, making the most of new media will be the biggest challenge of

the next ten years. It’s not surprising, therefore, that the Rob Normans

of this world have spotted that sport is where the action is.



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