When people find out I work in sponsorship, I always get asked two things:
- Do you have any decent tickets?
- Do you have any decent gossip?
There was a time when I had plenty of the latter and little of the former. Unfortunately these days my gossip is about as revealing as a Tiger Woods press conference. The reasons for this are twofold due to changes that have happened over the last few years.
Firstly, the lines between sportsman and celebrity have blurred. Any star worth their salt should now be able to change their first name to ‘Brand’ and sound believable – think Brand Beckham, Brand Murray, Brand Schumacher. Could you ever imagine Brand Botham or Best?
The worlds of sport and entertainment celebrity, or ‘Sportainment’ as it’s naturally called in America, are now firmly linked and in more then a few cases by marriage (or separation). This means you become a front page story rather then a back page one, especially if it’s for the wrong reasons.
Secondly, and this is the significant recent change, with the rapid rise of digital and social media our appetite for instant news and our ability to create it has never been so strong.
Sports stars and clubs themselves are in on the act – basketball player, Shaquille O’Neal has a whopping 2.8 million twitter followers, while Barcelona FC has 1.3 million Facebook friends – but the real control lies with the person on the street.
After Tiger’s conference (streamed live on YouTube), we didn’t need to wait for the papers’ reaction the next day to gauge public opinion – in just the hour after there were over 93,000 tweets about it.
The headlines of Messrs Cole, Terry and Woods show us that the sports stars haven’t really changed – in fact the only surprise is that Tiger kept it quiet so long. The change is that now they are considered fair game by both a salivating media and an unforgiving public able to influence and drive the agenda. This means there few secrets that don’t come out eventually – or in other words not a good time to be straying from home.
Oh and before you ask – no I don’t have any tickets to the World Cup, Wimbledon or The FA Cup Final. No change there then.
By Dominic Curran on March 2nd, 2010
Tags: Andy Murray, David Beckham, FA Cup, Facebook, Public relations, Sponsorship, Tiger Woods, YouTube