The DataPOWA view on the most important talking points in the worlds of sport sponsorship and digital.
Nike’s decision to enlist former NFL star Colin Kaepernick as its new spokesman has made waves around the world and resulted in a significant sales increase for the brand.
Kaepernick was put at the centre of a firestorm of controversy in 2016 when he knelt during the national anthem in protest at widespread racial injustice across the United States.
Since then, he has chosen public appearances, sponsorships and interviews carefully. After naming him Citizen of the Year in 2017, GQ noted that Kaepernick “has grown wise to the power of his silence… Why talk now, when your detractors will only twist your words and use them against you? Why speak now, when silence has done so much?”
This has extended to social media, where he uses his platform to amplify others’ voices, rather than his own. “Kaepernick has posted to Twitter more than 11,000 times,” the New York Times writes, “but since his declaration of silence to GQ, the overwhelming majority of the posts are retweets or posts under his name where he is simply sharing the words of others.”
The Nike deal has thrust him back into the spotlight, but as detractors have taken to Twitter to protest the deal – burning products and refusing to buy from the company again – Kaepernick has continued to keep his silence.
Indeed, even the campaign is notable for its restrain. Featuring a close-up of Kaepernick’s face in black-and-white, it reads simply, ‘Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.’
Despite the controversy, Nike’s seen an immediate return as online sales rose in the immediate aftermath of the campaign.
Edison Trends confirmed: “This past Labor Day there was speculation that Nike’s Colin Kaepernick ad campaign could lead to a drop in sales. Edison Trends investigated the sales over the holiday and its research, at this point, does not seem to support that theory.
“In fact, Nike sales grew 31% from Sunday through Tuesday over Labor Day this year, besting 2017’s comparative 17% increase.”
Whether this tapers off over the coming weeks remains to be seen, but one thing’s for sure: Kaepernick’s activism has made him one of the world’s most important sportspeople.
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) September 5, 2018
With the World Cup set to return to the United States in 2026 and La Liga heading across the pond in the future too, the state of soccer in America is changing.
Gone are the days when mentions of football meant helmets, touchdowns and an oval-shaped ball, replaced by a landscape where failure to qualify for the World Cup is meant with howls of anger – rather than shrugs of indifference – and the average attendance is higher than that of France’s Ligue 1: 22,106 versus 21,199.
The sport is proving particularly popular with Millennial audiences, who Gary Stevenson, president and managing director of MLS Business Ventures notes, are being drawn in by football’s lack of ads and relative brevity in comparison to other sports.
“This is truly the sport of the new North America,” Stevenson tells The Drum. “It is a new, interesting, fast-paced alternative to what exists.
“The sport is compelling to watch, it is not interrupted by commercials. In the US and Canada, our sports have commercials throughout the entire game. The millennial audience finds the fact that there are two uninterrupted halves in soccer very appealing.”
Such appeal has drawn brands to the MLS in their droves, and the likes of Adidas, Audi, EA Sports, Kellogg’s and Etihad Airways are among the major companies already involved. Mutually beneficial partnerships, Stevenson knows, are key to winning more deals of this sort.
“If we are good at solving the brands’ problems, then they will spend more money. That way we can tap into our partners’ marketing dollars and they can make our sport, league and players come alive.
“We can never have that amount of marketing dollars to do something similar. We’re reliant on them to build the sport.”
Find out more about this story on The Drum.
David Beckham has named his new MLS club Inter Miami CF.
The team’s full title is Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami, which represents Miami’s strong Spanish-speaking population, while its motto is “Libertas, Unitas, Fortuna”, meaning freedom, unity, solidarity, inclusiveness, opportunity and good fortune for all.
“Four years ago, we dreamt of a soccer club,” an announcement video published on Twitter said. “Today, we’re proud to announce the official crest of that club. Join us on a journey that has only just begun.”
Beckham himself added: “We are a new team but we are a city with a lot of history and I think that’s what we wanted to create with this crest,”
“But also, the authenticity, the South American flavour that we wanted in there. We also needed that modern twist as well because that’s what Miami is all about.
“I know that we have created something that our fans are happy with, I just hope that we’ve created something that everybody will be happy with.”
Find out more about this story on The Drum
Eleven Sports will stream football matches on Facebook in an effort to gain new subscribers, Digiday reports.
The company will offer up a game a week and then serve retargeted ads to those who view the matches. This, they hope, will inspire users to sign up to a permanent subscription.
“Facebook knows broadcasters are wary of having to pay for reach, but there’s value to be gained if they distribute the content there to learn about their audiences,” a source told Digiday.
dataPOWA CEO Mike Flynn added: “It is rare for rights-owners to do contra-deals without cash unless they are compelled to by regulators.
“But the deals Facebook is striking show the value of data in the modern media and sports market.”
For more on this story, please visit Digiday
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