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European Football Championship 2024 & Sports Marketing!

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Although sports marketing is similar to all marketing efforts in general, it is one of the most enjoyable and effective areas. Whether you are in the sports industry or in a different sector, sports marketing can be used effectively in both conventional and digital marketing. Coca Cola first turned to this sectoral use globally with its sponsorship agreement at the 1928 Summer Olympics. This deal is one of the biggest marketing efforts in the sports industry. These modern-day efforts to sell products actually overlap with the “Ancient Olympic Games” from a historical perspective. The Olympics, which started in Greece in 776 BC, were used to promote peace between the people of the city and the state through religious celebrations of sports. Today, the changing rules represent the relationship between companies and customers and the public within the capitalist system.

The marketing efforts of dozens of companies in dozens of countries for the European Football Championship 2024, which is taking place while preparing this article, have reached completely different dimensions with the follow-up of sociological and psychological processes by using up-to-date scientific marketing analyzes. In this period of the 20th and 21st century, brand valuation studies for product sales and additional uses are used efficiently on a global scale. Communication tools such as television, radio and printed media are still being used intensively and yielding results. In addition, digital media integration efforts and communication channel utilization are also actively benefiting. The European Football Championship, which is an example of mass use, can reach millions of people in just a few weeks. As a consumer in the first few days, advertising and sponsorship activities of local and global brands stand before us as the most up-to-date and effective examples: Mercedes, Turkcell, Nike, Adidas were the brands that caught my attention first.

In addition, in addition to standard efforts, memorable efforts can continue to support brand value and sales not only for a few years, but also for decades. One of the best examples was Pele’s “Pele and the Pause” commercial with Puma in 1977. Puma manager Hans Henningsen reached out to Pele and offered him a deal worth 120,000 dollars: Seconds before kickoff of the quarterfinal match between Brazil and Peru, the iconic striker took long strides to the center of the field. He stepped onto the pitch and asked the officials for permission to stop for a moment so he could tie his shoelaces.

During the 1970 FIFA World Cup, millions of spectators watched Pele tying his shoes during the matches broadcast in color.

FIFA 1970 Dünya Kupası – Brezilya -Peru

The iconic scene with the Puma logo and Pele’s shoe on the screen was an incredibly successful marketing move. Who do you think won the 1970 FIFA World Cup? Brazil, of course!

Another iconic case was Nike’s legendary deal with Michael Jordan. Nike, which suddenly made high jumps in front of dozens of giant competitors such as Adidas and Puma, started using the slogan “Just Do It!” in 1988, which it still uses to this day. But before that, in 1982, Michael Jordan, a college student, had made a legendary shot with a leap of about 5 meters (16 feet) with 15 seconds left in a college game. Nike employee Sonny Vaccaro fought off major competitors to bring the young star to Nike, and eventually succeeded. Nike even signed an agreement to give the athlete a share of the product sales, a first in this period.

1993 – Michael Jordan – Nike Reklamı – Just Do It!

“Air Jordan” sneakers are still on sale today and Nike has achieved its current brand value thanks to Michael Jordan, who is considered by everyone to be the undisputed number one in the world. Millions of basketball fans have not forgotten this man and the shoes he wore.

In addition to all these, brand collaborations such as Everlast with Muhammad Ali, Adidas with David Beckham, Puma with Usain Bolt and Nike with Christiano Ronoldo have generated huge sales and strong brand values in global markets.

If we want to rank the communication channels in sports marketing today according to their importance value:

  1. Brand Ambassadors & Integrated Teamwork
  2. Television Broadcasting & Advertising
  3. Sponsorships
  4. Event Marketing Activities
  5. Digital Advertising
  6. Content Marketing
  7. Micro & Macro Phenomenon Studies
  8. Social Media Projects

In fact, in addition to these, especially targeted and individual brand value studies are very important. The marketing communication channel studies given here can be listed as studies that we can easily use in local sports activities. However, what we lack in such studies both in our country and in the world is emotional intensity and the need to appeal more to the subconscious of the consumer. In general, the desired results cannot be obtained due to the similarity of the projects prepared with the existing works. We cannot get out of this vicious circle. At the same time, the projects we will prepare must be in line with the agenda, sociological structure and psychological expectations of the audience.

Marketing research indicates that consumers in the sports sector prioritize three main values from a behavioral perspective and in their purchases.

  1. Economic: Pricing of products, competitor analysis, and consumer expectations are crucial for price valuation. Core consumers (or fanatics) will buy regardless of price, but economic valuation is important for high sales. Brands should prepare different level products, which I call status products, to benefit from this.
  2. Hedonic: This group wants to interact with the product. Emotional engagements, such as tasting, feeling, or experiencing the product, are significant. Brands need to make consumers dream and provide them with the experience of the product or brand.
  3. Social Values: A sense of belonging, feeling part of a team or group, and interaction with this group are important in the social values aspect. This includes three important distinctions: Social Responsibility, Fan Loyalty, and Inspiration. Positive perceptions and the inclusiveness of efforts are crucial in this social valuation.

It was found that value propositions related to the organization are stronger predictors of perceived economic, hedonic, and social value. The exception was customer density, which negatively affected certain value perceptions. Hedonic value had the strongest impact on in-role and extra-role customer behaviors.

Another study adds two important features to the customer model within this behavioral approach. One is the surreal emotion. The emotional dimension of studies highlights the same reality. The other feature is personal development, where physical development and keeping up with information and trends show additional expectations from the audience. This clearly shows us the focus areas in our marketing efforts.

In a scientific paper by Daniel J. Funk, a Sports Experience Design (SX) framework composed of three interrelated elements was introduced, considering industry trends and theoretical limitations:

  1. Examination of the sports context where a sports consumer navigates and interacts with touchpoints.
  2. Consideration of the consumer’s mental processes, psychological needs, and personal characteristics.
  3. The sports organization that produces the sports experience to achieve organizational goals.

The SX framework must be defined differently depending on usage, such as sports categories, tournaments, clubs, or brand ambassadors. It provides a holistic, consumer-centric approach considering cognitive, organizational, and physical design factors to enhance customer satisfaction and engagement by improving the use and enjoyment of sports experiences.

Unlike standard sectoral studies in sports marketing, fans’ positive response to their team being supported by a brand always has a positive impact. This positive adoption reflects both in brand valuation and product sales. Additionally, integrating special studies into marketing activities can reach a much broader audience. Representation by country in tournaments like the European Football Championship also provides significant emotional differences. Even if you are not an official sponsor, showing your support through integrated efforts during these periods will always return as brand valuation. Although this may not have an immediate impact on sales, it will support both your brand and sales in the long term.

The UEFA European Football Championship 2024 offers unique opportunities for brands to reach large audiences and increase brand value. Social media campaigns, sponsorships, event marketing, and digital content creation can be effectively utilized during this major sporting event. By prioritizing fan loyalty and social values, and establishing emotional connections that meet consumer expectations, brands can enhance their reputation and sales in the long term. These strategies are key to achieving success in sports marketing.

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