Contact Us

The Spirit of Competition

The Spirit of Competition

The Spirit of Competition

With all the hype around the Olympics and some big name sponsors promoting the games, it’s almost impossible to turn on the television or look in a magazine and not see an ad that in some way incorporates sports. However brands don’t need to wait for a big sporting event to capitalize on the popularity of sports.

So the question remains, why are sports so popular in advertising?

Aside from the high viewership of sporting events like the Olympics or the Super Bowl, there are a lot of positive characteristics associated with sports: team work, dedication, competition, entertainment and being the best.  For many brands, those are the very characteristics they are trying to embody and represent to their target market.

With so many viewers engaged in sports, with sports and sport celebrity, it goes without saying that it’s a good way to build brand awareness, branding following… and obtain brand loyalty. There are some die-hard sports fans out there who will support their team till the very end. If a brand associates themselves with a customer’s favourite team, it creates a connection, a sense of solidarity and some of the loyalty the customer has towards the team will be transferred to the brand.

Using sports is clearly easier for some brands more than others. Brands like Nike, Liquid Nutrition and Gatorade have an advantage as they supply products that are used or required within the world of sports or health.

All three brands use athletes as brand spokespersons in their ads. Gatorade used Sidney Crosby in their G-Series commercials.

By having an athlete who is at the top of his game endorse the product sets a standard for those who play sports. The crucial element of the ad is that the viewer actually sees Sidney drinking Gatorade. If you want to be the best and play hockey like Sidney Crosby you fuel, you train and you push with Gatorade.

The challenge for some brands is to find a way to leverage the popularity of sports when they aren’t directly related to sports and health.

If a brand’s product or service doesn’t directly relate to sports, they can still use sports to their advantage by emphasizing shared themes and characteristics.

When you think of your Visa card, your mind doesn’t necessarily thinks of sports, but yet they sponsor the NFL. Visa is successful in their ad because they play on two elements of sports: dedication and entertainment. Visa knew how much fans love football and the extent they go to when celebrating the sport and their team. Visa uses that knowledge to position themselves as a brand that helps fans get closer to football.

Even brands who operate business to business have found ways to incorporate sports.

Dentsply created a Gold Performance campaign, in which they dubbed specific products as gold performance products, signifying those products as the best of the best. Even though Dentsply doesn’t speak to sports, athletes or any organization in particular, sports were used as a vehicle to spread their message of superior quality.

Sports, with their mass appeal and popularity, can be a great tool to spread brand messaging.  What are some of your favourite ads that utilize sports?


Author: cassie

Cassie is the Online Marketing Coordinator for 3H Communications. She handles Facebook, Twitter and all things social media, as well as providing support to the creative team. Relatively new to the field, she brings in a sense of enthusiasm.

Comments ( 2 )

  • People get behind sports because what you see is real (Olympic badminton notwithstanding). Athletes are real people seeing success from hard work and dedication. The drama is high, there is comic relief, and you can never be 100% sure what the outcome is going to be.

    Royal Bank of Canada does a good job of showing their support for community through their sports advertising. Even their current Olympic ads are subtle and respectful yet show a corporate responsibility. They don’t just splash famous people in front of you for paid endorsements.

    One company that really hits an emotive approach to their sports advertising is Tim Horton’s. They are well know throughout Canada for their support of amateur sport and professional sport. They are truly a community -centric organization. Here is one of my favourite ads by them as it touches on so many elements that it seems like it was not even scripted.

    Great post, Cassie.

    • cassie

      Thanks for your post Brian!

      I agree with you, people get behind sports because it’s real, of the moment and there’s a level of suspense. I think both of the brands you mention do a really good job of incorporating sports without having to rely on an athlete for an endorsement. Although in the past Tim Horton’s has used Sidney Crosby in their ads for Timbits hockey, which is fitting as he started playing in Timbits hockey Those Tim Horton’s ads get me every time!

Post a Comment


Subscribe to Our Blog

Join our mailing list to receive the latest posts on marketing, branding and design.

You have Successfully Subscribed!