Thursday, March 19, 2009

Marketing and Sport

The last couple of days I've tossed a lot of marketing posts your way in promoting the webinar and clinics this week. Sometimes it's necessary to tell people what's going on even if it's for personal gain. This can go too far, however.

A couple of weeks ago I attended a talk by a pro athlete who had a good season last year. She credited it to her new sports drink sponsor. She would have us believe that before the sports drink she was training poorly. But after using the new product she started training and racing better. Therefore it had to be the sports drink that made the difference and can take all of the credit for her turn around.


You need to be careful of what recognizable names in sport tell you. I'm afraid some don't. Many of these celebrities have a commitment to a brand which often involves free product, endorsement fees and exposure through media. They are being paid to tell you what a remarkable product the doohickey is and how they rely on it. I don't know of any product in sport that rises to that level of importance. Performance is 99.99% physical and mental preparation. Maybe more. There may be things that athletes like and find meets their unique needs in some small way, but no widget explains everything about their performances.

The same goes for research that is sponsored by a manufacturer. I am always highly skeptical right away. Researchers that don't at least say positive things about the product can never again expect to get funding for their research from that company. I'm skeptical of all the research of such 'scientists' forever after. And there are a lot of them out there.

Now I don't deny that everyone has to make a buck. We have bills to pay to maintain our lifestyles, and some may even believe that the product some how really did make a huge difference even though I may doubt it. There are products I endorse, although very few. I like these products so I support them. But I have always tried to be honest and open about their benefits and downsides. I wish athletes and scientists would do the same.


At March 19, 2009 9:44 AM , Blogger GRIESE.J said...

Don't hold it in Joe,Let it out .

Nicely put. As I train harder and more structured using set plans I alternate between the different products all with glorious claims, but as long as I get the calories,protein and carbs to supply me it has been good. Although if anyone wants to offer free product supply I'm sure I would see the light . WINK.

Thanks Mr Friel for expressing on this because of your respected opinion it carries a lot of weight.

Be well.

At March 19, 2009 1:42 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice post.

This is like Cervelo claiming that Team CSC/Saxo Bank won all the time because their aero road frames saved them 30 watts. (Now that they ride Specialized, I guess the only way to explain Cancellara and Schleck's wins at California is that they've used the off season to become 30 watts stronger.)

I wish people would stop lying to me about claims that are facially preposterous. It's insulting.

At March 19, 2009 4:13 PM , Blogger Coachhrd said...

I was glad you did a post about your webinar. I promoted it on my blog for my followers!

At March 22, 2009 6:51 AM , Anonymous Warren Lampitt said...

Joe, thanks for leaving an honest, well-balanced post.

I have no doubt that she may have felt that she was performing better when consuming brand "x" sport drink; however, it is invariably more mental than anything else.

Some sports products have excellent marketing programs that projects excellence in athletics. In some ways, it represents the new media version of the coach's pre-game pep talk: Both induce confidence in the athlete that unblocks performance.

It is sad that it is rarely recognized that the drink or gel rarely has anything to do with the improved physical performance.

At July 2, 2009 8:05 AM , Blogger Robin Smith said...

This is your best post. The rest are still excellent thank you.

You may be surprised to find that sport is not the only science where its scientists are "keeping their paymasters happy"

It applies most monstously in the world of economics too. i.e., "Booms and busts are inevitable... and they are good things too. You will perform better in life if you cause them"!!!

I hope this is not too off topic. Apologies if so. I'll be trying out the -15% for 3 minutes tonight on a Club 10 and will report back.

Last week in the MTB nationals I shot off the grid and was 6th by the end of lap 1. I lost 5 places by the end of lap 4. Furious. Now I think I know why!


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