Sports Management October 07, 2004 Sports and the Business World In the wide world of sports, teams will try and find a way to better market themselves in the nation to make more revenue. There are many ways to market your team but in the newer generation teams have been taking a different approach. Most teams will advertise there big sports star in trying to have people buy there gear, buy tickets, or simply support their team. But the most effective way to market your team is getting to the kids first. In advertising for a younger generation, you will tie the kids in more at an earlier age and hopefully will stay with the team throughout the years.

Reaching tomorrow's fans, teams seek long-term benefits from marketing to kids and teens. Youth Marketing is one of the most popular ways that sports are using to market their teams. Television has become the main source of marketing pro teams, as some teams have their own T. V show. The New York Jets launched "Generation Jets," a weekly half-hour show for children that uses animated characters, Jets players and New York landmarks to teach life lessons. A few of the lessons featured in season one-preparation, patience, and faith- might also be the keys to success for pro teams that are marketing to kids and teenagers.

In airing this show the Jets targeted kids six to eleven years old, in hoping that the kids would watch it before they realize what's cool. "Generation Jets" is more than a TV show, it became the opening for a comprehensive kids marketing effort that has seen the team launch a dedicated Web site, create themed merchandise, and re-brand its community relations activities and kids club. Case in point: Like many teams, the Arizona Cardinals have a kids club through which members receive specially created newsletters and team merchandise. Many marketers figure that kids clubs are a sort of necessary evil, a way to create some connection with children and teenagers who probably aren't going to buy full-price tickets for years to come. For pro teams, getting fans while they " re still young is probably the most important now than ever because of well-established competing forces like the Internet, video games and action sports. The way teams are going about it, varies from team to team.

The range of tactics includes everything from scheduling kid friendly promotional giveaway to letting kids participate in game presentation activities, to building an entire sub brand around the effort. As teams use youth marketing to make their organization grow, they must realize it's important to know the most appropriate time to deliver certain messages. Marketers must understand that marketing to a seven year old must be different than marketing to a ten year old. For example, the NFL has been working in the past few months to sharpen their focus. They have really focused on the eleven to fourteen year old group. Statistics show that the time in the life cycle when kids are making decisions about participating in football and long-lasting decisions about sports consumption and viewership.

Many teams have decided that the best way to create interest among kids and teenagers is to market to their parents, using as a hook the sporting event as the ideal family outing. Team's youth target the kids indirectly through their parents. Using print ads in regional editions of family and parenting magazines, are just some of the ways that Anaheim Angels Robert Alvarado, director of marketing and promotions uses to incorporate families. He also runs ads targeted at kids, including spots on the local Radio Disney affiliate that promote the team's kid-friendly giveaways. In addition to those giveaways, the Angels have three main youth-focused in-stadium events: a kid's opening day, held during the season's first home stand but after the actual season opener; a Kids Run the Show day, in which children take over select stadium-operation jobs; and a kid's appreciation game at the end of the season.

As more and more team's use their marketing skills as the Angels Director did. Different skills are developed as teams expand off of other teams. Now some teams, in a certain month or a home stand will have tickets be free for a certain age and younger if there is a parent buying a full adult admissions ticket. What this program did was it gave an incentive for parents to bring their kids, and it gave the kids an experience with one of our players, which hopefully will evolve into an emotional connection. In teams marketing to parents is one of the best ways to go because parents are always trying to please their kids, so they will see something that will catch their eye and then that team gets marketed. As youth marketing is used to trap kids in supporting their team, kids are more likely to watch things that have a reality-base incorporated in the show or advertisement.

"For branding, you can really tell the story of your sport or franchise through your recognizable athletes. For the most part athletes are much stronger brands than leagues or teams." As teams use certain athletes they try showing the athlete as a real person. Kids like to see how athletes live and see them hanging out with their friends or playing video games, just like they do themselves. Staying cool, organizations try and see what kids are really into and go off that to promote a better team than another. Team's are always looking at pop culture, and not only benchmarking other teams, but also other industries like retail. Workers for the teams will visit teen's favorite stores to check out what young consumers are wearing and what music the retailers are playing.

Research like that helps the team keep game presentation kid-friendly and choose trendy giveaway items. Teams will use a certain cooperation is advertising there product better. Two highly liked cooperation is Reebok and Nike. As both companies have different strategies in marketing their merchandise they are all after one thing which is revenue.

Reebok are finding that kids are savvier consumers, and at even younger ages, than they were just a few years ago. Reebok about ten years ago said that kids around seven or eight that parents made the decision in what to get for them. Now Reebok is trying to attract four to five year olds. To attract those youngsters, Reebok markets kids-only for kids' only styles, creates kid targeted retail displays and steals a few tricks from kid's breakfast cereal. Reebok main focus is it tries to mirror its kid targeted advertising with retail displays to help young kids make the connection from TV spots to the product in stores.

Sales at stores with those displays consistently outstrip sales at merchants without them. On the other hand Nike which is a high profile athletic apparel and footwear company was having trouble positioning themselves successfully with youths. The youths have been more attracted to newer brands such as Volcom or old school with Adidas that is making a comeback because kids watch more and more TV and extreme sports are becoming more and more popular each day. In trying to get the kids back to supporting NIKE, NIKE came out with a contest that had a youths compete in skate and bike jumping. At this event the kids were video taped and the best ones moved on. Also, NIKE was giving out their branded materials in seeking to get the consumer back.

This event was highly attended and NIKE was able to increase its brand.