Sports marketing and its promotional programmes

By Abhinash on November 19, 2013

Sports marketing and branding dates back to the 19th century with England’s Football Association. It was formed in November 1863 with a meeting between Eton, Rugby, Winchester, Westminster and Harrow to start their management of English football.  Following the formation, in 1869, the Reds became baseball’s first professional team and established the first American team sport brand. In 1903, America’s Major League Baseball team was created with the emergence of two rival baseball leagues. The decades that followed saw the formation of many such leagues, such as the NFL, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, etc. This motivated people to think more on sports marketing (Kahle and Riley, 2004).

Major sport events

Organizing a sports event like the Olympics, FIFA or the IPL requires:

  1. Collaboration between different parties in the sporting field like clubs, athletes, international and national federations, etc.
  2. Events field like media, marketing agencies, sponsors, etc.
  3. The regional stakeholders like public opinion, local authorities, cultural and educational communities.
  4. Extra-regional bodies such as EU, State, etc.

Organisation of the event is the domain where most sports bodies implement relationship based sports marketing strategies, from the bidding phase (Ferrand and McCarthy, 2008).

In sports marketing emphasis has always been laid on describing sponsorship i.e. the ways in which team identification or sponsorship works. However, discussions regarding sports marketing activities known as licensing have not been discussed much in the past (Irwin, Sutton and McCarthy, 2002; Kahle and Riley, 2002). They state that licensing programs like leagues (IPL) or teams work for the benefit of three major factors:

  1. Promotional exposure for sports marketing.
  2. Profit from license application.
  3. Protection against unauthorized logo usage.

Sports as a profitable business

Licensing, or formation of a sporting league is a vibrant marketing concept which is relevant to fan identification, a concept defined as “the personal commitment and emotional involvement customers have with a sport organization” (McDonald, Milne & Cimperman, 1997, p. 15; Kahle and Riley, 2004). Fans that identify with a sports organization exhibit a sense of connectedness towards the league and begin to identify him/ her in relation to the league (Mael and Ashforth, 1992). In addition, fans also identify themselves as the “extensions of the team”, while generating high levels of “emotional identification and attachment” (Wann et al, 1995; Sutton et al, 1997).

The arena of sports licensing was the fastest growing in sports promotion arsenal, whose value grew from USD 5.35 billion in 1990 to USD 13.8 billion in 1996 (Bernstein, 2002).

Ferrand and McCarthy (2008, pp. 137-138) enlist several strategies adopted by sports organisations in order to build a loyal fan base:

Implementing sponsorship programmes

Sponsoring can give sports organisations an added advantage as implementation of sports marketing plans and relationship strategies pertaining to the stakeholders like the media and the sponsors. The activation strategies that yield output from sponsoring organisations are formulated in order to build relationships between the sports organisation, its sponsors and a variety of communication/ marketing targets (eg. public, participants, schools, clubs, etc.) (Ferrand et al, 2006).

Managing media relationships

The media plays an enormously complex system with which ideally as sports foundation must build long-lasting relationships based on mutual understanding and trust. This can go as far as a strategic partnership as part of a sponsoring operation, or societal programmes.

Designing and running social marketing programmes

The amalgamation of the stakeholders that form a sports system is becoming increasing apparent in terms of social end goals. Sports is a vector of social development and integration that is in sync with the ultimate objectives of economic, social and educational factors. This has led to the introduction of several social programmes based on relationships in sports marketing.

Operations in sports marketing

They also list several support processes that are needed to implement the operational processes involved in a sporting event like the Indian Premier League. Through this demonstration, they establish that the delivery of quality service to sponsors depends on the coordination and implementation of the processes of steering, communication and quality management.



Partners providing resources and skills

Manage Information.
  • Analyse the impact.
  • Understand the companies’ strategies.
  • Inform.
  • Marketing Agency.
  • Sports Organisations’ marketing department.
  • Marketing Agency.
  • Sports Organisations’ marketing  department.
Manage rights and contracts
  • Manage commercial rights on a worldwide basis.
  • Manage contracts.
  • Prepare to fend off ambush marketing.
  • Legal departments of the sports organisation and of sponsors.
  • Legal department of the international federation.
  • Legal departments of the sports organisation and of sponsors.
  • Legal department of the international federation.
Manage the infrastructure.
  • Competition site.
  • Hospitality arrangements.
  • Sports organisation’s events department.
  • Regional authority that owns the infrastructure.
  • Sports organisation’s events department.
  • Regional authority that owns the infrastructure.
Manage resources.
  • Human resources management.
  • Financial management.
  • Sponsor partners.
  • Project leader for events.
  • Project leader of the organisations involved in this collaboration.


  • Kahle, L.; Riley, C. (2004). Sports Marketing and the Psychology of Marketing Communication. Lawrence Erlbaum, NJ.
  • Ferrand, A.; McCarthy, S. (2008). Marketing the Sports Organisation: Building Networks and Relationships. Routledge, USA.
  • Irwin, R. L., Sutton, W.A., & McCarthy, L. (2002). Sport Promotion and Sales Management Campaign, IL: Human Kinetics Publishers.
  • Sutton, W.A., McDonald, M.A., Milne, G.R. & Cimperman, J. (1997). Creating and fostering fan identification in professional sports. Sport Marketing Quarterly 6 (1), 15-22.
  • Mael, F. & Ashforth, B.E. (1992). Alumni and their alma mater: A partial test of the reformulated model of organizational identification. Journal of Organisational Beahavior, 13, 103-23.
  • Wann, D. L., Hamlet, M. A., Wilson, T. M., and Hodges, J. A. (1995). Basking in reflected glory, cutting off reflected failure, and cutting off future failure: The importance of group identification. The Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 23, 377-388.
  • Bernstein, A. (2002, August 12-18). Licensed product sales up 7%, NHL says. Sports Business Journal, p.5.

I am currently working as a Research Associate. My work is centered on Macroeconomics with modern econometric approach. Broadly, the methodological research focuses on Panel data and Times series data analysis for causal inference and prediction. I also served as a reviewer to Journals of Taylor & Francis Group, Emerald, Sage.