While it often sounds a very glamorous occupation, most folk working in ‘sports marketing’ tend to undertake repetitive tasks, constantly doing things that have worked in the past.
Granted, there are those who think ‘outside of the box’, but in an industry where a handful of major sports, events, leagues and clubs devour the lion’s share of television air time, rights fees and sponsorship revenue, identifying an idea or ‘property’ with growth potential is akin to unveiling a new El Dorado.
Many sports have sought to replicate what might be loosely called the “football business model”, an extremely risky method of stimulating growth, but it is the toughest act to follow.
Not only does the beautiful game start with an enormous advantage, enjoying almost universal popularity, but its biggest club names/brands are not about to sacrifice their commercial hegemony in order to accommodate competing sports.
Indeed, having established commercial dominance at home, a select number of heavyweight European football clubs are currently engaged in an ongoing commercial scrap to establish a greater foothold in Asia, which promises to be the world’s most lucrative football market.
Perhaps only Formula One has come close to emulating football’s global reach, driven by the efforts of one man.
Without Bernie Ecclestone, the sport would have achieved nowhere near the profile it presently enjoys, though even F1’s traditional big spenders are feeling the pinch.
The story goes that when Frank Williams first arrived in Formula One back in 1969, his total first year racing costs amounted to £41,000.
Unlike today, Williams got by with just two Cosworth engines all year, fine-tuning and rebuilding them as required, at a cost of £250 a time.
By 1979, when Williams was on the cusp of his first world championship victory, his team costs had risen to £450,000; he was still using the Cosworth engine, but the rebuild costs of that too had rocketed to over £2,000.
With the 2011 season due to get under way in Melbourne on Sunday, these figures represent little more than a throwback to a time when Formula One was a competitive sport, a time when there was no massive differential between each team’s annual budget.
Today, just one scaled down model of an F1 car used for testing purposes in a wind tunnel costs £1.5 million.
Ahead of Sunday’s opening race, Williams’ 2011 annual budget is estimated to exceed £190 million.