The definition of sports marketing is summed up concisely by Dianna Gray and Chad McEvoy in their Sport Marketing Strategies and Tactics (2005), quoting a 1978 issue of Advertising Age: "The activities of consumer and industrial product and service marketers who are increasingly using sport as a promotional vehicle." According to Sam Fullerton and G. Russell Merz writing in Sport Marketing Quarterly (2008), despite its major contribution to the United States and global economy the term is ambiguous, covering everything from the sale of tickets to spectator sports through to sports-related gambling. In Sports Marketing Surveys (2002) the concept is defined as "one of selling tickets and putting fans in the seats at organized sports events." This is most clearly demonstrated during major events such as the Super Bowl and Olympic Games, where the primary objective is to sell tickets, television rights, advertising and sponsorship deals off the back of the occasion.
In the run-up to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing Du Wei, vice chairman of the Institute of Beijing Olympic Economy, declared sports marketing had "become one of the most effective of all marketing strategies." Coca-Cola, for example, has been associated with the Olympic Games since 1928. Another international organization associated with major events is McDonalds, the sponsor of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Fullerton and Merz highlight the work of Mullin, Hardy, and Sutton (2000) who define sports marketing as "consisting of all activities designed to meet the needs and wants of sports consumers through exchange processes." Sport marketing has developed in two major directions. The first is identified as the marketing of sport products and services directly to consumers of sport, while the second element refers to the marketing of other consumer and industrial products or services through the use of sports promotions. They identify three basic principles of sports marketing: the nature of its focus, the nature of the product being marketed (whether it is sports-related or non-sports), and the level of integration of sports within marketing the strategy, which can involve traditional techniques or incorporate the multi-million dollar business of sponsorship. They use the example of British soccer star David Beckham as having a ‘phenomenal' influence in this regard.
Another key area of research regarded as influential in the world of sports marketing involves broadcasting, with marketing executives working to increase the audience of major events. This includes television options such as free-to-air TV, premium cable and satellite networks, pay-per-view channels for special events and specialist networks dedicated to a single sport, or networks such as Fox Sports and ESPN. Other media channels include traditional radio, satellite radio, audio and video streaming on the internet, and a growing emphasis on mobile technology.
In Strategic Sport Marketing (2003) David Shilbury, Shayne Quick and Hans Westerbeek also highlight the crucial role of TV. "Television has contributed to the emergence of new and restructured competitions. Changing environmental conditions have forced sport managers to develop marketing strategies for their sports, leading to the creation of sport-marketing departments and the employment of marketing specialists in sporting organizations." The internet is identified as another powerful communication channel as it "provides sport marketers with an effective tool. As the threads of the World Wide Web stretch further into global society, more and more people are relying on the medium to perform daily tasks. With this in mind, sport marketers who are better able to leverage the core strengths of the internet are creating significant competitive advantage."
Shilbury, Quick and Westerbeek cite golf tournament The Masters as being "utterly unique" in sports marketing purely because it retains its exclusivity and foregoes a great deal of moneymaking opportunities. They say: "For golf fans, nothing signals the start of another season quite like The Masters. If you have week-long passes, you probably inherited them from your great-grandfather. The estimated 40,000 badges are the most sought-after in sports. Masters golf paraphernalia isn't much easier to come by, and is sold only at souvenir pavilions and the pro-shop. If The Masters peddled its wares on the web or loosened curbs on corporate hospitality tents it might be one of the great cash cows in sports, alongside the Super Bowl and NCAA Final Four Basketball Championship."