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Business Talk: Sonny Vaccaro Said It First

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Digital is critical to the next major sports marketing frontier.

Source: Multibillion-Dollar Sports Market, Still Waiting on the Sidelines |

Today I saw an excellent article by Kai Soto on how digital is the wall that has yet to be broken down in the sports marketing arena. Click the source link above.

If you’re too lazy to click the link here is the summary, businesses in the sports world have yet to figure out what Sonny Vaccaro learned 40 years ago when he launched the Top 10 Camp and then the ABCD Camp, the kids are your ambassadors. Sonny is the reason Jordan is with Nike and he had a hand in every major signature shoe signing by adidas and Nike and Reebok and anywhere Sonny decided to take his talents. The problem is in this new generation of kids the grassroots model has become so corrupted that getting to a kid involves going through a parent, a handler, and then getting that handler to stay committed to one brand instead of hopscotching to wherever the money is. In Sonny’s heyday a kid became a Nike kid and stayed a Nike kid. That kid then went on to become the spokesperson for the brand through high school into college and into the pros.

Today we are in a world where Michael Jordan flying in a Spike Lee commercial on NBC in the 80s won’t work because there are over 500 channels and kids aren’t watching any of them. Kids are teaching adults to cut the cable. Kids have allowed YouTube to create YouTube Red a Google product that allows you to get rid of ads. Kids have made Instagram the place to look for endorsers instead of athletes. As a matter of fact kids can now turn on ad blockers that will allow them to look beyond the traditional skyscrapers and leaderboards on webpages. Hell, kids very rarely go to webpages that don’t cater to what they want to know. They stay inside of social media apps.

This is a major issue because in order for the sports machine to work it has to reach the next generation of fans. I wrote this article a while back about adidas’ Future campaign. Adidas gets it. I’ve discussed a million times how Nike gets it, but Nike really gets it. They already had SNKRS and NDC as direct lines to their tribe, but just this month Nike also decided to dive hard into Content Creation with the Air.Jordan.Com blog. The brands that are consistently winning realize where to reach their market and they are doing so. What is beyond me is how many brands haven’t figured it out. They aren’t utilizing video, or generating content on their sites. They are relying on ‘search only’ and the idea that people are going to seek them out and buy what they are selling. That simply isn’t the case anymore. Click the source link to check out the story. If Sonny knew then, maybe it’s time for these sports brands to look at alternative marketing companies to build their strategies.