Athletes / Media

Branding

Athletes' voices

Author Kevin Fontana, University of San Francisco

Posted: April 27, 2016

Tagged: Brand equity

Building a brand in the world of sport media is no easy task. It is a tremendously competitive industry that requires one to invest into its production. Today, we see a number of different outlets all lobbying to be the most reliable source for fans to get their news.   None of these, however, have adopted the idea of allowing athletes to be the reporters until now. The Players’ Tribune, created by Derek Jeter, is an up and coming outlet that has gained support based of the vison it was founded upon. The attributes, benefits, and attitudes of the brand, combine to offer a unique way for fans to connect with athletes becoming more loyal to the company in the process (Mullen, 2016 p. 1).

The Players’ Tribune name is a perfect fit for what the organization is trying to do. The name offers a tangible, easy to learn association to the company. In addition, the positive association for what the company does is the names biggest accomplishment. This textbook representation of the company focusing on articles about athletes, by athletes is perfectly demonstrated in the name (Dalakas and Rose, 2014, p. 111-115).    The word tribune refers to someone who stands for the right of the people. In this case, The Players’ Tribune is designed with the idea to uphold the rights of the athletes themselves; the players. It gives them the voice, rather than allowing another person to tell a story on their behalf.

Continuing with the attributes, or features, of the brand, the colors associated with the logo also offer a great representation of what the organization stands for. The black, gray and white color of the logo, symbolizes the idea that these articles comprised from the athletes are real and to the point or, “black and white.” (Malkewitz and Bee 2014, p. 94-95). There is no fluff, or color, for added appeal. Athletes are allowed to tell the stories they want to tell which in turn allows them to express subjects that can connect to fans on a more emotional level. As Swin Cash, a forward in the WNBA stated, “A lot of times when a situation is touchy with athletes, it’s hard to speak on a subject, because it can get pushed the wrong way… you can get a lot of backlash. So athletes stay away from it.” (Mullen 2016 p. 1). Here, athlete’s stories are not shaped or altered for fan enjoyment. They are told the way the athlete wants in portrayed giving them a sense of comfort in allowing these subjects of their personal lives to be shared.

This ultimately transitions to benefit the viewers. Brand benefits are extremely important for an organization to truly thrive. They are what brings value or meaning that the consumer can derive from their consumption (Gladden, 2014, p. 8-9). These brand benefits that come from the attributes the organization was founded on, allow consumers to connect with the athletes on a more personable level. The Players’ Tribune gives them access to stories in their lives that would never be published otherwise. With this, athletes are not seen as some magical figure that we cannot relate to; they are seen as real people, personable people on the same plane as the fans themselves. These first person accounts allow readers to connect with the athletes and others emotionally, they provide entertainment, and they allow for a sense of escape as they divulge in the athlete’s real life (Gladden 2014 p.8).

All of this, eventually leads to the attitudes fans form about the company. This is the “evaluation or judgment of a brand as a whole” (Gladden 2014 p. 10). The Players’ Tribune continues to gain more and more traction from viewers as they had 3,158,000 unique visitors in November, and “the site’s 750 posts have generated more than 38 million page views” in its two-year existence (Mullen 2016 p. 1). More and more athletes are confiding in the tribune to have their top stories told; such as Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant announcing their retirement.

These strong attitudes are transitioning into an increased loyalty amongst fans. Not only are more and more fans discovering The Players’ Tribune daily, they are also continuing to come back. The stories published offer a unique prospective that entice readers to always want more.

 

References

Dalakas, V., and Rose, G. (2014). Developing Brand Identity in Sport: Lions, and Tigers, and Bears Oh My. In M. P. Pritchard, & J. L. Stinson (Eds.), Leveraging Brands in Sport Business (pp. 110-141). New York, NY: Routledge.

Gladden, J., (2014). Brand Equity Management and Measurement in Sport. In M. P. Pritchard, & J. L. Stinson (Eds.), Leveraging Brands in Sport Business (pp. 1-20). New York, NY: Routledge.

Malkewitz, K., and Bee, C. (2014). Undertaking Successful Brand Design in Sport. In M. P. Pritchard, & J. L. Stinson (Eds.), Leveraging Brands in Sport Business (pp. 89-108). New York, NY: Routledge.

Mullen, L. (2016, February 8). Jeter’s vision overcomes skeptics. SportsBusiness Journal, 18(41). Retrieved from www.sportsbusinessdaily.com

About Kevin Fontana, University of San Francisco

Kevin graduated in 2015 from Cal State University, Los Angeles with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management and an emphasis in Marketing Management.  Currently, Kevin is in the Sport Management graduate program at the University of San Francisco. While at Cal State Los Angeles, Kevin played for the universities baseball team and was a member of the 2013 CCAA champion team.  He continues to stay connected in the baseball community as a coach for a local youth travel organization in hopes of one-day becoming involved in college athletics once again, as a coach or administrator. He is contactable via kjfontana@dons.usfca.edu and at www.linkedin.com/in/kevinjfontana. This article is an edited version of a paper Kevin prepared for Dr. Michael M. Goldman’s Sport Marketing class at the University of San Francisco.

IImage by The Players' Tribune, "Derek Jeter", retrieved from s3.amazonaws.com/tpt-uploads-production/uploads/derek-bw.jpg