By John DeBello
Sports metaphors abound in the workplace, and sports themes thrive in the marketplace. In an era of “all sports, all the time,” it often follows that a product pitch is delivered—literally–by a pitcher. Or a linebacker. Or skier, skater, goalie, golfer, even “tagger” (in certain parts of Eurasia.)
By any name, it’s all about the name. Celebrity sells, but, in the wrong hands, simply sells out. I’ve produced hundreds of spots featuring dozens of sports (and the stars identified with them) and learned a few things along the way.
While campaign concepts change, the rules don’t. Here’s a way to win with sports.
The Vince Lombardi Trophy does not resemble an Oscar.
Effective marketing is all about credibility. So keep the concept simple, and let genuine personality shine through. Because nothing destroys the credibility of a product—and the tongue-tied superstar trying to sell it–more than forcing an All Pro to play out of position. And speaking of credibility—
Sports are about the bottom line. So are sports fans.
Tell it like it is. Pretension plays poorly. Tough to match the fervor on the field, so tread lightly on the dramatic license. “Lame” is not limited to sprained ankles. Know your audience. And whenever possible–
Employ your audience.
In the edit bay, on location—work with the experts. Media specialists who know and love sports. It shows. And on the set–
Your star may arrive late, leave early, and have little patience for indecision. Be ready to shoot now. Have a plan. A back-up plan. And plenty of patience. Because–
Remember who’s the star.
In all likelihood, his single Cy Young outranks your entire trophy case. When possible, collaborate, don’t dictate. Keep it relaxed, crisp, and professional. And always–
After all, that’s what sports are all about…and a positive experience on the set delivers the goods for post. Your editor will thank you. Your client/boss/spouse/kid will thank you (assuming you remember to get him/her that autographed ball.)
Sports work. Just think of the product you will sell…and the stories you can tell.
John DeBello is Principal & Creative Director of Loma Media. He has written & directed national broadcast campaigns and programming for major brands featuring sports stars, including Peyton Manning, Madison Bumgarner, Clint Bowyer, Ray Lewis, Brett Favre, Roger Clemens, Marshall Faulk, Dan Marino and many others.