Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Sports Marketing Needs Workout: Panel Says Newspapers Can Do More to Increase Sports Ad Dollars

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Sports Marketing Needs Workout: Panel Says Newspapers Can Do More to Increase Sports Ad Dollars

Article excerpt

Are newspaper relevant to sports marketing efforts?

The answer depends on who you talk to. A panel at the recent Newspaper Association of America convention brought a diverse range of views to a discussion about steering ad dollars to the sports pages.

"One thing we know is that sports sell newspaper," said Nancy Cooney, executive sports editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

"Even if people have seen the game on TV, they turn to us to react to it, to analyze it, to interpret it, to dissect it, to relieve it, and to celebrate and cry about it.,

Cooney said that when the Phillies won the World Series, "it was good for up to 20,000 papers daily."

But if that's true, then why don't newspapers receive a larger share of sports ad dollar?

"One of the problems may be that we do such a good job of covering professional and major college sports that organizations, don't seem to need to come to us," Cooney said.

"We provide so much free information, schedules, TV times, prices, there's such a stream of news and features that there's no need to buy ads or otherwise use us as a marketing tool," she said. "Even when were critical, we're selling tickets."

Gary Bettman, commissioner of the National Hockey League, discussed the league's push to become more complementary to newspaper marketing efforts.

"At the NHL," we operate under a philosophy that everything we do is related to everything else," she said "From my point of view, to the question, `Do newspapers matter to sports marketing?', the answer is a resounding, absolutely, unqualified yes.

"In fact, were probably more dependent on newspapers than even you imagine in trying to get our message out," Bettman added the fact is that newspapers give you more detail in what's going on in the over 1,200 games that encompass our pre-playoff regular season."

Bettman cited last January's All-Star Weekend in Boston as a successful example of working with newspapers. The Boston Herald was a sponsor of the promotion, which included the NHL Fantasy, an "interactive trade show" with more than 30,000 attendees.

Only 5% of an Heuser-Busch Inc.'s advertising budget goes to print, said Tony Pontura, vice president/corporate media and sports marketing for the St. Louis-based company.

But recent partnerships, including the NHL/BUD Light promotion, could spur a change. Pontura said Anheuser-Busch is hoping to extend the promotion to local markets through newspaper victims with local teams.

Also, Anheuser-Busch is looking at measuring sponsorship for "lifestyle," sports, such as volleyball, jet skiing and snowboarding.

"As events or sports are linked to a particular market, or as tours come through, there is a way to use the newspaper vehicle more as a part of the overall promotion, and not just as an advertorial," Pontura said.

Newspapers, historical market dominance, though diminished, still affects sales staff attitudes, said Jim Paw, president of the minor-league El Paso Diablo Baseball Club. …

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