Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 3316
, Published on 31 October 2010
Every nation is fascinated by a sport. The fan-following and support is at mindboggling levels, with the sport becoming a religion and the sports-stars their gods. Whether watching their favorite sportsperson play on the field, or following them everywhere in their personal lives, fans form an integral part of the players as well as the sports life. India is spellbound by the cricketing fever, Europe is gripped with football frenzy and USA has incredible basketball and baseball following. But are a few legendary players, who have created a niche brand for themselves by their exploits on the field, bigger than the sport? The answer is yes.
In the late nineties, popular sports channel ESPN started to find its space in the TV world in India by telecasting cricket events. Gradually, as the sports channel gained popularity, it diversified into football, which didn't have a prominent fan following in India as compared to Europe. At this moment it was football icon David Beckham, who created a buzz in the Indian market. It was brand David Beckham, who was known for his stylish persona, precision passing and clinical free-kicks, became the face of football in India. Slowly, football as a sport found its place and popular clubs like Manchester United, Arsenal, Real Madrid developed a fan following. But all this was possible for football as a sport across the globe because of brand Beckham.
Similarly, in the cricketing world, legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar is an unmatched and unparalleled brand for his elegance, brilliance and consistency. Not only has he a status of a demi-god in India, he has tremendous followers across borders. Thus, when the Indian Premier League was started, team Mumbai Indians had tremendous and maximum support just because of Tendulkar's mere presence in the team, as cricket fanatics wanted to see him play, irrespective of the team he represented. Everything from match tickets to merchandise, were sold instantaneously under the brand Tendulkar.
Apart from the above mentioned sporting icons, every sport has produced legends in the game who have given an image to the sport they play. Formula one driving is associated with Michael Schumacher, Michael Jordon forms the face of NBA basketball, Usain Bolt gives his presence to track and field and Roger Federer the face of tennis.
The players within their own right become such enviable brands that even companies want to get associated with them. Tendulkar was brand ambassador for MRF providing a strong and consistent image, Beckham gave Gillette a stylish and fashionable personality and Schumacher was associated with the speed and grace of Ferrari.
Sports is merely a source of entertainment for spectators and testing of a player's mental and physical toughness. However, with consistency on the field, with passion and commitment in every game, and with a special touch that they were born to play the game, some sports stars become legends of the sport. Each and every of this player is so easily recognizable as brands, that they eventually become larger than the sport.
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