Sports Marketing Plan for Athlete Essay

He has been compared to A-Rod, Derek Jeter, and Ken Griffey Jr. Bryce Harper is presumed to be the first round pick in the 2010 Major League Baseball Draft1. He has consistently proven himself to be among the top of his peers in the game since he was 102 years old. Because of his commitment to excellence and a competitiveness that far exudes his years, Bryce made a decision to forgo his remaining 2 years of high school to play for College of Southern Nevada. Bryce will be challenged academically and athletically, and is looking forward to the added responsibility in order to perform at a higher level.

“He has hit the longest home run in the history of Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays, and he did so in January, at age 16, with a blast that would have flown farther than the measured 502 feet had it not smashed off the back wall of the dome.”

Our overall objective with Bryce Harper is to slowly build his pre-professional reputation with reputable big-name sporting brands. This will allow him the exposure he needs, as well as substantial exposure to a brand he can grow with throughout his baseball career.

Some of Bryce’s Recent Accolades and Achievements:

* 2009 Baseball America High School Player of the Year

* 2009 Ryan Howard Award (International High School Power Showcase Home Run Derby)

* 2008 1st Team All Sunrise Division Catcher

* 2008 1st Team All State Catcher

* 2008 Player of the Year North-East Division

* 2008 Batting Average Leader for the state of Nevada

* 2008 All World Team

Being that Bryce is only 16 years of age, he is to be compared to young serious athletes that were in his shoes when the hype happened. Those athletes include the likes of legend Michael Jordan, and newcomer Lebron James. Granted these are NBA superstars, but the people have spoken – and baseball needs a new hero after the scrutiny of the “Steroid Era”.

The fact is, very few athletes have ever garnered the attention that Bryce Harper has, and some of his feats on the diamond have become things of legend. Harper hit a 570-foot home run over: “The right field fence, two trees, another fence, a sidewalk, five lanes of traffic on elevated South Hollywood Boulevard, and yet another sidewalk, until it finally landed in the brown, undeveloped desert.”5 His stats that bewilder most professional athletes in the game today, and are only a fraction of what this 16 year old will be capable of when he is in his prime.6

Positioning Statement

Bryce has already garnered much national attention with his recent cover page on Sports Illustrated, for June, 2009.7 We feel that a symbiotic relationship built with Bryce and the most-fitting brand will only grow as his professional career gets closer. In this respect, the MLB draft of 2010 will be when Bryce’s stock will really lift not only in the game of baseball, but on a nationally recognizable level.

When speaking in monetary terms, Bryce is humbled with getting his feet wet in this big industry and is more concerned with building a strong reputation with a brand that will follow him throughout his life-cycle as a professional athlete. Bryce is committed to being the best and feels that his confidence in becoming “the best” in his sport will build the confidence in his value in the eyes of his endorser. That being said, Bryce is open to negotiations seeing he is not yet a professional athlete.

When fitting the proposed athlete with a brand, we want to ensure the fit is the most crucial in making a decision on Bryce’s behalf. Bryce is a serious athlete, dedicated to the sport of Baseball, and we want to ensure his success in the sport is greatly correlated with the brand(s) that grow with him.

Strengths and Weaknesses

The overwhelming statistics that follow Bryce are unparalleled. His good character follows him on and off the field. There are no direct remarks regarding an attitude problem, just a kid who is good at what he does, and does what he loves. However, there are always a handful of skeptics that like to put in their two cents. With the “Steroid Era” hopefully coming to an end in Major League Baseball, one hope is that this has not compromised the performance of young Bryce Harper. Many of his peers describe Bryce as “just one of the guys…he really doesn’t appear to let any of this (hype) affect his personality.”

His peers know who he is, but most importantly, Bryce Harper knows who he is, and what he wants to do.

“..He has a clear vision of who he is, where he wants to go and how his enormous capacity for work is even more valuable than his great talent.”

SWOT For Bryce Harper and Future Endorser

Strengths:

* Bryce is on Target to achieve a first-round draft pick in the MLB for 2010

* Bryce is only 16 years old

* National recognition with SI 2009 cover

* Bryce has many accolades to his name, including High School Player of the year for 2009

* Clean cut and Mannerly

* A serious competitor

Weaknesses:

* Bryce is 16 years old

* Has not built a big-league reputation

* He will be leaving High School 2 years premature

* Getting his GED to play college ball early.

* Not the best-looks

Opportunities:

* Bryce is 16 years old

* Bryce is young and healthy

* He has not even hit his peak for performance

* Getting his GED to play college ball early.

* Not the best-looks

* Natural Baseball player, not using hormones (HGH, steroids, etc).

Threats:

* Bryce’s performance could decline in the next coming year

* Other top-players could capitalize on poor performance

* Unforeseen injuries could plague future with baseball

Target Audience

Bryce Harper’s audience will consist of the following:

Perceptual Map – Bryce Harper

Ken Griffey Jr

Jeff Malm10

David Langley

NIKE – Proposal 1

Nike has a rich tradition of finding and sponsoring the best athletes in the world. This will be another attempt for Nike to emerge the Baseball market with fury. By attaching Nike to Bryce Harper much like the endorsement with Lebron James12, Nike would be a perfect match for endorsing Bryce Harper. At this time a small endorsement during his collegiate tenure in order to follow collegiate guidelines will be more appropriate. It will give Nike time to build a relationship with Bryce in terms of gear, apparel etc. Upon his draft in the MLB, right now analysts believe he will be the #1 overall draft choice, Bryce and Nike can then get more detailed with their relationship at this time. Because of the recent article put out by Sports Illustrated, we feel that Bryce Harper is indeed positioned for greatness; much like Lebron James was back in 2003. Bryce has an extreme confidence level for someone his age, and commands excellence when he is on the field. Nike and Bryce make an apparent fit. Due to his level of play and commanding presence, we see Bryce bringing much recognition to the Nike brand in the near future and throughout his career, and we feel no one has a better opportunity at creating history in this game, creating some sort of name for himself other than himself. Nike= “The Best”, Bryce Harper= “Best for Baseball”. Nike + Bryce= “Baseball’s Best”.

We feel due to Bryce’s extremely competitive, confident and humble nature, he would do well in an open forum such as a PR event or live marketing purposes to promote the Nike brand. Suggestions include: Nike Baseball Apparel, Nike performance equipment and alike. Although he is 16 of age, Bryce is well-spoken and we feel he is confident around all audiences, given his recent acclaim on the cover of Sports Illustrated June 2009 edition.

Louisville Slugger – Proposal 2

Louisville Slugger has long been known as “the bat” professional baseball players use, with the first bat made for Pete Browning in 1884 – he was the “Louisville Slugger”13. 60% of the players in the MLB use Louisville Slugger14. With this tradition of greatness and history that follows, Bryce Harper will, no doubt, fit the mold as he sets out to make history the moment he sets foot on MLB soil. This fit is meant to be. In Fact, Bryce was one of only nineteen players to make the 2009 Louisville Slugger All-American Team.15 Bryce will serve the Louisville slugger name well as he continues to moves throughout his career. He aspires to play in the “..Pin stripes, play in New York, Become the best player that ever lived.”16 With aspirations like these, you can imagine who he is looking to in New York – Alex Rodriguez, of course. Alex Rodriguez is already the highest-paid baseball player in the MLB – he is a slugger destined to make the Hall of Fame. Bryce Harper is benchmarking greatness, and with benchmarking comes a stigma of other characteristics that are easy to map that will be mutually beneficial the Louisville. Like the bat A-Rod uses, Louisville Slugger. We feel the attitudes, interests and opinions shared by Bryce correlate directly with what Louisville stands on as a foundation for success: greatness.

We feel due to Bryce’s humble and confident nature he would do quite well in public forums, such as a meet and greet for a new line of Louisville Slugger Apparel, bats and alike. Obviously due to his acclaim with his abilities to hit 570 ft homeruns, we feel a requirement would be for Bryce to get acquainted with the line of Louisville Slugger bats so that he may implement them in his game, for further product recognition. Bryce has a sense of humility and is a great character to have around people of all ages. Although he is 16 of age, Bryce is well-spoken and we feel he is confident around all audiences, given his recent acclaim on the cover of Sports Illustrated June 2009 edition.

In conclusion, we feel that Bryce Harper is the next great prodigy to enhance the game of baseball – in particular the MLB. He is fun to watch, and is a pleasure to deal with; and at times hard to imagine this 6’3″ 205 lb boy is only 16 year of age. Bryce carries himself in a way that is playful and confident. Any brand related to the sport of baseball and a commitment to excellence should surely consider Bryce Harper as an addition to their portfolio of superstars to represent a level of greatness with their brand.

References:

1 Verducci, Tom (June 8, 2009). “Baseball’s Lebron.” Sports Illustrated. http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1156215/1/index.htm.

2 Law, Keith (June 24, 2009) http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?columnist=law_keith&id=4283157

3 Verducci, Tom (June 8, 2009). “Baseball’s Lebron.” Sports Illustrated. http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1156215/1/index.htm.

4 “2010 International High School Power Showcase Home Run Derby Profile – Nevada Representative.” Power-Showcase.com. http://www.power-showcase.com/profiles/2009-PLAYER-profiles/profile-nv-harepr.php

5Linneweber, Colin (June 17, 2009). http://bleacherreport.com/articles/201105-will-bryce-harper-be-lebron-james

6 (2008 Season) He hit .626/.723/1.339 in 115 at-bats. He had 22 doubles, nine triples and 14 home runs, eight of which came in his last seven games. He scored 76 runs while driving in 55. He walked 39 times and struck out just five. He also stole 36 bases in 39 attempts and ended the season on a 23-game hitting streak. http://www.maxpreps.com/athletes/MLSlI-2c_0ejnUuzjO9p9w/baseball-spring-09/stats-bryce-harper.htm

7 http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/cover/toc/11258/index.htm

8 Linneweber, Colin (June 17, 2009). http://bleacherreport.com/articles/201105

9 Verducci, Tom (June 8, 2009). “Baseball’s Lebron”. Sports Illustrated. http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1156215/1/index.htm.

10 2009 Louisville Slugger Player of the Year. Bishop Gorman, LV, NV.

11 David Langley, Glenwood H.S., Phenix City, AL

12 Frammolino, Ralph (May 23, 2003). http://articles.latimes.com/2003/may/23/business/fi-lebron23

Lebron James has yet to throw down a dunk in the NBA, but the Ohio high school phenom scored big Thursday with a seven-year, $90-million endorsement deal with sneaker giant Nike Inc., the most ever paid for an entry-level player.

13 http://www.sluggermuseum.org/sluggerhistory.aspx.

14 http://www.slugger.com/story/players/index.html. Some of these well known sluggers are Derek Jeter, A-Rod and Jason Giambi.

15 http://www.baseballnews.com/allamericans/currenthsallamericans.htm

16 http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/blog/big_league_stew/post/Bryce-Harper-punches-his-ticket-to-Cooperstown-a?urn=mlb,167844&cp=93