Football is one of the largest spectator sports in the world and the 2014 FIFA World Cup pays testament to this fact. During the last World Cup, overall viewership of the tournament reached over 3.2 billion people and over 1 billion people tuned in to watch the FIFA World Cup Final.
This means that football has a lot of potential and is a highly lucrative marketplace to be in. Similarly, another profitable sector is the American sports industry, which is set to rise to $73.5 billion by 2019 and is a market football teams should focus on exploiting.
Tottenham Hotspur are currently attempting to infiltrate the American Sports industry with a view to becoming a household name in America. Whether their efforts will be successful or not has yet to be seen.
This article will look towards understanding how Tottenham’s marketing strategy is operating and will further dissect the teams plans to enter new markets.
Consumer Based Brand Equity model (CBBE)
Before understanding the marketing activities Tottenham are conducting, it is imperative to have a conceptual framework to justify their actions. The Customer-Based Brand Equity or CBBE model suggested by Keller (2001) attempts to answer the following questions:
• ‘What makes a strong brand?’
• ‘How is a strong brand built?’
This model stresses the importance of creating a bond between the brand and the consumer to develop intense and active loyalty towards the brand. Nevertheless, when this model was first suggested, it was to be applied to traditional brands. Therefore, because we are looking at a football club in this instance, certain factors from the CBBE model may not be applicable or may be modified to suit this new context.
Purchasing American Players to Boost US Awareness
Purchasing players to be used as a marketing ploy is a rather peculiar prospect. Although, from a brand perspective it can be argued to make sense in the case of Tottenham Hotspur.
As a club, Tottenham have had little success compared to other clubs around them such as Manchester United and Arsenal. Therefore, how do you get ‘brand awareness’ as a club if no one has heard of you due to little continental and domestic success? One answer would be to purchase beloved players from the country in question.
Purchasing Veteran players has been a tried-and-true technique for generating brand awareness. However, it can also help to shape perceptions of the club, and to present the image of one that enjoys and welcomes American players.
Hiring Veteran players such as Brad Friedel and Clint Dempsey will help to shape the perceptions of international audiences.
In a sense, the players act as a form of celebrity endorsement. As they play for the club, their actions are reflected onto the club and potentially the fans. This however, can also be a double-edged sword because players are human beings which makes them somewhat of a volatile form of marketing.
Purchasing American players has helped increased awareness in the brand as can be seen with having more official supporters than any other premier league club in America. On the other hand, if a player is purchased and does not fulfil their promise or feels they were not given a fair chance can cause, which could be the case for DeAndre Yedlin who had ‘no future at Spurs’.
If he were to publicly criticise the club, this may have had a negative effect in the American market as people may have felt loyal to the player rather than the club. Luckily, this did not occur on this occasion.
Utilising a U.S.Pre-Season Tour to Reinforce Brand Image
Spurs have recently announced that will partake in a pre-season tour of America, which will be their fifth time in a seven-year period. With the use of American players, the continued number of tours in America will further reinforce the club into the minds of Americans.This strategy has been successful thus far with ‘64 Official Supporters’ Clubs across North America, which is more than any other Premier League team’.
Seeing the club in person allows these supporters to better understand the ethos of the club, the quality of players and the style of football that Spurs are renowned for. Also, seeing the team in person can create feelings among the supporters which will reinforce their judgement that the team resonates with them.
Strengthening NFL Ties and Developing a New Stadium
Tottenham’s new stadium looks fantastic to say the least (potentially a biased view on that feeling). That being said, the stadium itself is not the most interesting thing to occur from a marketing point of view. The fact it will have an NFL pitch that will regularly hold NFL games epitomises the intelligence of Daniel Levy to build the Tottenham brand in America.
The NFL is still America’s most popular sport with 33% of Americans stating it is their favourite. Thus, creating a stadium that is also tailored to NFL as opposed to just football is key. Levy was stated saying ‘because it needed to be viewed as a combined joint soccer and NFL stadium.
In fact, the way we designed the whole experience is one side of the stadium is a dedicated soccer entrance and the other side is a dedicated NFL entrance.’ This is along with specialised sized locker-rooms, medical facilities and media facilities.
A question may be asked as to how this would be considered marketing into America? Referring back to the CBBE ‘resonance’ is key to creating loyalty, some of the criteria involves a sense of community and active engagement.
Engaging with American culture and their sports will make these individuals more willing to engage with the Tottenham brand, leading to higher chances of brand loyalty. Also, it will create a sense of community that spans both forms of football.
This is an intelligent foresight by Daniel Levy to help create revenue streams to help fund the stadium but also continue the brand expansion into a market that is growing from a financial perspective.
In many ways, Tottenham are well and truly on their way to America – both literally and metaphorically. Tottenham are successfully executing a long-term plan to infiltrate the American sports market, they have understood the potential in the marketplace, as well as the popularity of sports recreation.
Tottenham Hotspur have shrewdly covered all bases of the CBBE model which helps to create and maintain their loyal following. This means that going forward, not only is it an exciting time to be a Tottenham fan, but also an NFL or an American soccer fan too.