Academic journal article Sport Marketing Quarterly

A Conceptual Framework for Retro Marketing in Sport

Academic journal article Sport Marketing Quarterly

A Conceptual Framework for Retro Marketing in Sport

Article excerpt

Introduction

It has become commonplace for sport teams and leagues to utilize retro marketing, often coined with phrases like "throwback" or "turn back the clock night." Despite the heavy usage of retro marketing in sport and increased attention in popular press, there has been minimal academic attention attempting to understand these practices. In the general marketing field, scholars have given the concept a requisite amount of examination, primarily involving the impact of producing retro brands. Brown, Kozinets, and Sherry (2003) defined retro branding as the relaunching of a product or service that is also brought up to contemporary consumers' standards. Reflecting on his retro marketing research, Brown (2013) described how he thought the "nostalgia boom" was just a fad, yet more than 15 years after beginning his research on retro marketing, it has grown and continued to be a successful marketing strategy. The sporting realm is no exception to the ever-growing usage of retro marketing as many professional teams and leagues have continued to incorporate retro elements into their overall marketing strategies.

Sport marketers have found a plethora of avenues to utilize retro marketing while teams and leagues also continue to implement retro marketing strategies. The ways in which teams can utilize retro marketing and remind their fans of the team's past are immense. Retro marketing can stretch from the intensive process the Toronto Raptors went through of redesigning their uniforms and court to resemble a former basketball team from Toronto called the Huskies for multiple games during the 2016-2017 season (Dator, 2016) to simply implementing throwback uniforms as alternate jerseys like the New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates did during the 2016 season (McGuire, 2016; Snyder, 2016a). Even when teams go through a redesign, they often consider retro elements. Both the Golden State Warriors in 2010 and the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2016 utilized aspects of their past in a complete logo and uniform redesign. The two teams went back to logos and colors that had been used in prior years and paid homage to their successful pasts (Creamer, 2016; "Golden State Warriors Unveil New Logo," 2010). Retro marketing is heavily utilized in imagery both temporarily with throwback uniforms and in more long term ways when teams conduct logo and jersey redesigns.

Throwback uniforms and logos appear to be the most commonplace utilization of retro marketing; this is likely due to the fact that each throwback uniform creates a new line of merchandise for their fans to purchase. There are numerous other avenues teams utilize with retro marketing in mind. One example is "turn back the clock" nights, which often use throwback uniforms and encourage fans to dress up as if they were in a different era; both the Seattle Mariners and a summer collegiate team, the Eau Claire Express, had turn back the clock nights during their 2016 and 2015 seasons, respectively ("Express Announce," 2015; Young, 2016). Additionally, teams do promotional giveaways that are retro, as the Chicago Cubs did by giving away 1916 jerseys during the 2016 season to commemorate their 100th year playing at Wrigley Field (Yellon, 2016). The Detroit Lions went as far as having a retro pricing promotion during the 2016 season, where they offered beer and hotdog pricing from the 1991 season ("Detroit Lions to feature," 2016). Another way that teams use retro marketing is by creating team hall of fames or museums such as the Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, and numerous other NFL teams have to remind their fans of the team's past success and to allow the fans to reflect on it (Belson, 2014).

As the authors have detailed, retro marketing is heavily utilized by sport teams and leagues, yet it has received scant academic attention in the sport marketing literature. Sport marketing has become its own academic discipline, in part because of the incredible uniqueness that the sport product offers to managers and consumers (Coakley, 2007; Mullin, Hardy, & Sutton, 2014) and it is necessary for sport marketing scholars to examine how the field itself differs from the general marketing context. …

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