It is no secret that the world of professional sports is highly dependent on funding generated by corporate sponsorship. Visible evidence of this relationship abounds at most sporting events, from logo-emblazoned jerseys to outfields adorned with advertisements. In most cases, this corporate presence is the work of a sports marketing department. Sports marketing is a branch of the marketing industry that involves the promotion of and the arrangement of sponsorship deals for sporting events, venues, teams, and individual athletes. Those who work in the field are often employed by a specialty agency, a sports franchise, or by the marketing division of a corporation that promotes its products through athletic sponsorship.
Sports marketing agencies are specialty firms that service the promotional and sponsorship needs of sporting events, teams, and individual athletes. An agent at this type of firm usually acts as a liaison between his client and potential sponsors. He may secure a valuable footwear endorsement for a basketball player, for instance, or he may arrange for a candy company to sponsor a sporting venue’s halftime show.
Some sports marketing professionals work for a sports team or for the organizers of a major sporting event such as a professional golf tournament. Often, these internal marketers are responsible for promoting the team or event for which they work. They may, for example, secure radio and newspaper spots to advertise upcoming games or devise special offers and product giveaways to encourage attendance. Additionally, they may secure outside sponsorship for their franchise by selling promotional space in a range of formats, including spots on game-time overhead screens, advertisements on scoreboards and collectible cups, and so forth.
In some cases, corporations maintain their own in-house sports marketing department. The goal of corporate athletic sponsorship is to increase public awareness of one’s product and stimulate its sale. Thus, these departments are often responsible for seeking out beneficial sports sponsorship opportunities. They may conduct market research studies to determine which athletes, teams, and events can best expose their corporation’s product to its target audience. Once they have identified these opportunities and negotiated acceptable sponsorship deals, they may work with the corporation’s advertising staff to determine how their product would best be marketed.
An undergraduate degree in marketing, business, or advertising can be helpful to those who wish to enter the field of sports marketing. Some universities offer marketing degrees with a concentration in sports. In addition, it is sometimes possible to gain experience by interning for a sports franchise or marketing agency.