By the Staff of NYSportsJournalism
January 11, 2016: What are the qualities, strategies and skill sets that separate some companies, leagues, athletes and organizations from others and drive them to rise to the level of Sports Marketers of the Year?
In 2015, it included an event with 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches, a Super Bowl that was decades in the making, two fighters who came together after years of avoiding each other, a golden anniversary celebration for an iconic sports drink, an NBA MVP who led his team to victory against all odds and a kick-ass MMA champ who took on all comers, ultimately defeating all but one.
For AT&T, it is supporting and helping to grow college sports as a corporate partner of the NCAA and through a bevy of regional and local activations, as well as boosting sports and entertainment via naming rights deals for AT&T Stadium (home of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys) and supporting with marketing that features legends from college and the pros. There also was time for a deal that made a couple of headlines in which AT&T acquired DirecTV for $49 billion. (Read the full story here.)
For Dick's Sporting Goods, it is building a foundation to raise funds for and awareness of the financial plight of high school sports while expanding its core propositions via expansion, memorable ad campaigns and a multi-layered union with the U.S. Olympic Committee that includes offering flexible work hours to potential Olympic and Paralympic atheltes. (Read the full story here.)
In the category of eSports, it is generating enough fan, financial, marketing and media interest to skyrocket an entire global movement, including creating divisions and driving investments from the likes of Activision, EA Sports, Turner Sports, Coca-Cola and Microsoft. (Read the full story here.)
At Esurance, it is generating awareness of online insurance and driving a message across sports and marketing boundaries via alliances that include tennis, MLB and SXSW. (Read the full story here.)
A combined effort between HBO and Showtime was a major reason that the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao fight on May 2 took place. Not to mention a Foot Locker commercial. A chance meeting during a Miami Heat game. And a fing full of sponsors, media and fight fans offering to pay a record sum to see the bout, seven years in the making, become a reality. (Read the full story here.)
At the NHL, the past year included a new deal with adidas, a game-changing alliance with Major League Baseball Advanced Media, new pacts with such companies as SAP, Kellogg’s, Samsung, and Procter & Gamble, all leading to a league record spend among marketing partners. (Read the full story here.)
For the NFL, is it evolving a strategy over 50 years that culminates with an historic Super Bowl so impactful that it changed the Roman L to Arabic number 50. (Read the full story here.)
A year-long celebration of the golden 50th anniversary of Gatorade put PepsiCo on the list, including a "Be Like Mike" redux and other elements featuring Jordan and a powerful roster of brand endorsers. (Read the full story here.)
Skechers reached the summit here by compiling and triumphantly utilizing what arguably might be the most eclectic team ever to drive consumer awareness and sales, adding the Los Angeles Marathon, Meghan Trainor, and Sugar Ray Leonard to a roster that includes Ringo Starr, Demi Lovato, Mariano Rivera, Joe Montana and Joe Namath — plus a Super Bowl commercial starring Pete Rose. (Read the full story here.)
For the Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles, it was successfully hosting from July 25-Aug. 2 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches representing 177 countries, 30,000 volunteers and an estimated 500,000 spectators — organizers called it the "single biggest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympic Games" — with such partners as AEG, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, Mattel, Procter & Gamble, Toyota, Toys R Us, Kate Capshaw & Steven Spielberg and The Walt Disney Co. (Read the full story here.)
Two athletes, each with their own set of memorable skills in the areas of sports, marketing and fan interaction, have been selected as the first Athlete Sports Marketers of the Year: the UFC's Ronda Rousey and NBA All-Star guard Stephen Curry. They both have already been deemed to be leaders among their peers across all sports and have officially been named as the Female Athlete Sports Marketer of the Year (read her full story here) and the Male Athlete Sports Marketer of the Year (read his full story here), respectively, by NYSportsJournalism.
The Top Ten Sports Marketers of the Year for 2015 were selected by NYSportsJournalism.com via a review of the stories, articles, Q&A's, features, social media strengths, marketing, business efforts and response from readers, consumers and industry peers about companies, people, organizations, teams, leagues, agencies, medial outlets and others throughout the year.
The ten companies, leagues and categories will now go to a vote among the public-at-large.
Ultimately, one of them will become the Grand Sports Marketer of the Year and join past winners including BBVA Compass (2010), Mission AthleteCare (2012), Stand Up to Cancer with MLB and MasterCard (2013) and The ALS Assn. (2014).
Congratulations to all of those nominated for the work and achievements you have had in 2015, and to the achievements to come in 2016 and beyond.
The Top Sports Marketers of the Year for 2015 (in alphabetical order): AT&T, Dick's Sporting Goods, eSports (category), Esurance, HBO-Showtime (Mayweather-Pacquiao), NFL Super Bowl 50, NHL, PepsiCo Gatorade, Skechers, Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles.
Female Athlete Sports Marketer of the Year: Ronda Rousey
Male Athlete Sports Marketer of the Year: Stephen Curry