The announcement in this week's Sports Business Journal that Tom Fox will join Arsenal to run their startegic marketing is the latest in a series of moves by elite clubs and sports around the world to try and not only capture ways to engage their own fans, but to try and begin carving niches to make their brands interesting and meaningful to fans in North America, whether those fans are expats now living in the States, new fans or sport like cricket and rugby, and more importantly, brands that may be looking to activate more on a global level. As the digital world blurs traditional boundries and is able to unite fans of a sport or a sports brand more and more in real time, sports like Indian cricket have looked to the west to adapt their game to a more global and less traditional audience. Even rugby has looked to changes, using Rugby 7's as opposed to the full sided game to get into the Olympics and draw fans who are more interested in a fast-paced game. Now does this mean that we will be seeing Thundersticks and cheerleaders in the Premier Leagu. No. It means that there are many smart brands who realize there are global opportunities to expand and draw more fans, bodies and brands to them and that the economy today has created a need to bring in savvy folks to show clubs and sports how to be successful and use their connections to build brand like they have with American sport. We have seen traditional American brands like the NBA and MLB continue to make strides in establishing their global footprint for several years, so it now makes sense that the established hierarchy of sport outside the States now also take advantage of that know-how by bringing those who have been successful building brands with fans into their offices to show them how they too can be more cost-effective and forward-looking.
Some other good reads…Ad Age had a great piece this week on major brands using niche marketing…the Washington Post's John Feinstein had a good piece on the amazing run of events in the first half of July…the New York Times had a piece on rugby finding its American home in Colorado…and Helene Elliott had a nice look at Venus Williams away from the tennis court in the LA Times.