Because he is a felow countryman but also an extremely competent marketing and communications professional, living in both sides of the ‘fence’ primarly developing an extraordinary work in the low budget, low scaled yet dynamic Portuguese Hockey Federation and also collaborating as member of the European Federation Committee of Marketing and Communications , decided to invite Marcos Castro to share his thoughts about Marketing in Hockey.
HOCKEY: A NEW MARKETING APPROACH!
Hockey is different, for better. The big changes often start from the top, from FIH, that seems to be doing an excellent job in fulfilling its mission as the maximum ambassador of the sport. I am referring to the several aspects involved in the promotion of the field hockey product, since its rules and regulations to the way it is distributed.
From a marketing perspective, and it is in this area that I will focus this reflection, hockey is finally professionalizing itself. The sports product is the only one where the higher is the uncertainty of the result, the bigger is the interest to the consumer and better is the spectacle provided. Unlike other sports, where the evolution of regulations lasts for too long and is subject to many lobbies, hockey is a fresh, innovative and unafraid sport of being more transparent to their community. In recent years we have witnessed a series of rules changes, from the self-pass to the video umpire, who are making the sport more spectacular and therefore with a greater ability to reach for new audiences.
Adding this we have the creation of new products, of which I would like to highlight three, that for its importance and impact are revolutionizing the creation of new partnerships with major brands, thereby attracting new partners and sponsors to the sport. These products are the Euro Hockey League, the Hockey World League and the Hockey India League. Despite having been developed with different concepts and characteristics, they all have a common denominator: make hockey accessible to more people and countries, increasing the number of participants and new audiences. Moreover, all these products are backed by a strong element of spectacle, where technological innovation is a key element for the development of the so-called sport spectacle, where the creation of idols plays a key role. Regarding this topic, just see the recent example of the European Hockey Federation, who developed the “EHF Hall of Fame”, a place (albeit a virtual one) where people can admire, enjoy and revel in the achievements of the greatest in our sport.
Another aspect that is changing is the distribution of the field hockey product, mainly because of the digital revolution that we have witnessed lately. Today we have the possibility to watch top hockey level matches of all world major competitions for free, anytime, anywhere and in any device via livestreaming broadcasts to YouTube or other platforms. If it is true that hockey does not belong to the mainstream modalities of most countries, the digital opportunity brought us the possibility to affirm hockey as a competitive, interesting and different sport, where television is no longer a limitation to our expansion and growth.
Finally, the growing awareness that hockey starts to have in countries where it is not one of the mainstream sports, and that in my opinion only be noticeable within 4/5 years, makes that large companies begin to want to associate their brands to hockey. Adidas, Audi, Coke or Clarence House (yes, the British royalness is also a key partner, just see the case of Princess Kate during the London Olympics) are some of the brands that make hockey a sport with an immense growth potential, since they are making a clear investment in marketing through sport, that is, try to reach consumers through a sport they like, in this case, field hockey.
These are exciting times for hockey. Let’s each one of us, make our contribution to a better sport.
Sports Marketeer, EHF’s Member of the Marketing and Communications Committee