An Empirical Analysis of the Effectiveness of World Wrestling Entertainment Marketing Strategies

Submitted by Sungick Min, WonYul Bae, David Pifer and Colin Pillay

World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE), which is headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, produces one of the most popular sporting events in the world, spans a diverse audience, and has a fanatical base and following for its entertainment value. This study was designed to investigate the numerous ways in which the company promotes and markets its brand, its programming, its events, and its products. Drawing from 107 randomly collected survey questionnaires, the results of this research indicated a variety of significant differences in the effects of WWE marketing promotions on the age, income, marital status, and ethnicity demographics. These findings can in turn be used to help the WWE target designated consumer segments with the appropriate resources and marketing strategies as the company strives to increase future opportunities for success. Further samples from other areas in the country are needed, though, to verify if the regionally recognized inclination is consistent across the country. In addition, research should be performed at different times of the year to clarify seasonal sport preferences.

Professional wrestling fans receive different reactions from people. Some people think it is “cool” to be a fan; others are disappointed because they consider it to be faked. Fans respond that they enjoy the entertainment value of professional wrestling. According to Ball (1990), wrestling fans tend to be stereotyped as the “dregs of society,” a group composed mainly of lower-class people.

Nevertheless, professional wrestling is also a tremendous entertainment business and has become an addiction for a large portion of young Americans. Ball (1990) stated, “Professional wrestling in the United States provides an ideal platform for the study of entertainment-culture and portrays some of the richest symbolism in society today” (p. 4).

It incorporates action in the arena, and sometimes outside the arena. It is an action adventure show, a cartoon, drama, and a sitcom. It is like a big soap opera for men, a hybrid of everything ever seen on television. World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE), which produces some of the most popular shows in the world and reaches a diverse audience, has an enormous fan base and following for its entertainment value. As one of television’s most unique shows, it draws upon many other successful forms of entertainment. The continuing story lines are familiar to viewers of soap operas. The action, adventure, and racier elements draw their motivation from the best that sports and Hollywood have to offer. According to Gresseon (1998), professional wrestling has gone from a dull participant ritual to an exciting, action-filled form of entertainment.

The action in WWE events may be “fake,” but the entertainment value of World Wrestling created by Vincent and Linda McMahon is very real. Gresson (1998) asserted that wrestling has taken into consideration the audience’s needs and successfully translated them into spectacular shows that draw spectacular profits. The WWE has dominated its market and has established its brand in the minds of the American public. As an integrated media and entertainment company, the WWE is principally engaged in the development, production, and marketing of television programming, pay-per-view programming, live events, and the licensing and sale of branded consumer products featuring its successful World Wrestling Entertainment brand.

In WWE’s 2006 annual report, net revenues of $400.1 million were generated, while an income from continuing operations of $55.2 million, before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortizations, stock options, and other non-cash charges, was reported.

WWE is incredibly prevalent in the male demographic, especially those aged 14 to 34. The company has been involved in the entertainment business for over 20 years and has established the brand as one of the most popular forms of entertainment today. According to Stotlar (2005), demographic changes in the United States population have directly influenced sport marketing. Brenner (2004) indicated that population trends have caused organizations to take a long, hard look at marketing efforts as teams and leagues find that there is no single, correct approach. To increase market penetration, marketers often discuss how to reach Hispanic, Asian, or other ethnic consumer groups, but oversimplify the challenge by applying such labels. According to WWE, its operations are organized around two principal activities:
1. Creation, marketing and distribution of live and televised entertainment, including the
sale of advertising time on its television programs; and
2. Marketing and promotion of its branded merchandise.

In an effort to further exploit and bolster its business, WWE launched a brand extension that created two separate and distinct brands, “Raw” and “SmackDown!” Each extension has its own distinct story lines, thus enabling the company to have two separate live event tours. The two tours permit the company to visit new domestic markets while touring internationally on a more frequent basis. In addition, WWE currently maintains licensing agreements with approximately 70 licensees worldwide. The company logo and images of WWE characters appear on thousands of retail products, including various types of apparel, toys, video games, and a wide assortment of other items.

According to WWE’s 2006 annual report, the company produces and promotes wrestling matches for TV and live audiences. Its nine hours of TV programming each week include “Raw”, a top US cable program, and “Smackdown!”, the highest-rated UPN show. Most of its programming airs on Viacom outlets, including MTV, TNN, and UPN. WWE also produces 14 pay-per-view programs and about 240 live events each year, licenses characters for merchandising, and sells videos and DVDs that showcase such wrestling stars as “The Rock”, “Hollywood Hulk Hogan”, and “The Undertaker.”

WWE’s success prompted this study, which set out to investigate the numerous ways in which the company promotes and markets its brand, its programming, its events, and its products. Kwon and Armstrong (2004) asserted that one of the most crucial elements of sport marketing involves segmenting the market of sport consumers into smaller, homogeneous groups for which specific marketing strategies can be cultivated. Accordingly, this study examined the different results of WWE promotions and marketing based on age, income, marital status, and ethnicity.

Pitts and Stotlar (2002) defined sport marketing as “the process of designing and implementing activities for the production, pricing, promotion, and distribution of a sport product to satisfy the needs or desires of consumers and to achieve the company’s goals” (p. 80).

Understanding the “4 Ps of Marketing” is crucial to any successful marketing channels in an organization. In traditional marketing, the “4 Ps of Marketing”, a concept coined by E. Jerome McCarthy (McCarthy & Perreault, 1990), specifically refers to the following:
Product: the essence of the product or service that includes product lines, product extensions, and the meeting of new consumer needs within the targeted group of customers.
Price: shows the desired image a company wants to portray about a product or service while taking into consideration competitors’ prices, available discounts, and market share.
Place: the actual, physical distribution of a product or service. This can include the transporting of goods to wholesale and retail outlets or the geographic location of a business or organization.
Promotions: carrying messages about products and services to potential consumers. This can be performed through publicity, advertising, or other means of communication.

A brief overview of the 4 Ps as they relate to the WWE will serve as a base from which to understand WWE’s success. To begin, the WWE “products” are its superstars – “The Rock”, “Trish Stratus”, “Stone Cold Steve Austin”, and “The Undertaker”. These superstars are professional and skilled in the portrayal of popular characters. One of WWE’s top superstars, “The Rock”, the son of a Samoan homemaker and an African-American pro wrestler, became a feature film action hero in Universal’s blockbuster, “The Scorpion King”. WWE has a vastly increased talent pool that translates directly to brand extension and additional revenue streams producing more pay-per-view events, more live events, more international tours, more branded merchandise, and more new television programming with new stars and new brands outside the genre.

Compared to other sports leagues, the WWE ticket “price” is one of the most expensive. According to the WWE website (2007), the average ticket price for three live events in Asia in March 2002 was $63.00 and the average ticket price for live events in the United States was $36.00. Each of WWE’s other 11 domestic pay-per-view events have a suggested retail price of $34.95, up from $29.95. Compared to the baseball ticket, ESPN (2007) indicates that the lowest average price is $13.79.

According to the WWE annual report (2006), it has major arenas, such as Madison Square Garden in New York City, Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim, California; Allstate Arena in Chicago, First Union Center in Philadelphia, Fleet Center in Boston, and Earls Court in London, England. These major arenas represent the “place” in the marketing mix. WWE has a 46,500-square-foot entertainment complex located in Times Square. The complex boasts a 600-seat restaurant and 2,200 square feet of retail space. The complex provides for a variety of entertainment uses, including:
1. Airing WWE’s regularly scheduled TV shows and pay-per-views;
2. Hosting concerts and other live events, including press conferences,
stockholder meetings and product launches;
3. A night club;
4. Appearances and autograph sessions featuring performers; and,
5. Banquets, birthday parties and other social and corporate functions.

“Promotion” is the final P in the marketing mix to be discussed. According to WWE, the company promotes and markets its brand, its programming, its events, and its products in numerous ways, including:
1. Approximately 200 live events are held each year in major stadiums and arenas
throughout the world, including Madison Square Garden in New York City, Arrowhead
Pond of Anaheim, California; Sky dome in Toronto, Canada; and the Manchester
Evening News Arena in Manchester, England;
2. Nine hours of original television programming are produced, 52 weeks per year;
3. 12 domestic pay-per-view events are produced each year;
4. Programs and pay-per-view events are distributed in over 150 countries in nine languages;
5. Branded merchandise is marketed and sold directly to consumers and to major retailers
6. The branded merchandise is licensed to approximately 85 companies to produce and distribute thousands of retail products worldwide;
7. Two monthly magazines are published with a combined annual circulation of
approximately 5.8 million; and,
8. News and information is distributed about the WWE’s story lines, performers, and
programming and, consequently, affects e-commerce sales through Internet sites.

For years, a great deal of research has been undertaken in an effort to understand the behavior of sport marketing strategies. However, most studies have focused on direct sport marketing strategies, while studies examining the factors that influence indirect consumer behavior have been neglected. At present, studies investigating the effectiveness of WWE marketing strategies have not been well designed, thus creating a need for further research. The purpose of this study is to examine the effectiveness of various WWE marketing platforms and the demographic composition of its fan base. An empirical analysis looks at the numerous ways in which the company promotes and markets its brand, its programming, its events, and its products.

Furthermore, this study also examines the effectiveness of WWE promotions and marketing based on age, sex, educational level, and ethnicity. Differences based on age, sex, educational level, and ethnicity may compel sports marketers to adapt current marketing approaches.

Best marketing practices of current WWE are also examined, and recommendations for sports marketers on how to successfully target the population segment are provided.

In sum, the general research question for this study is: How do WWE marketing channels affect various fan bases?

Sample and data collection
As mentioned, WWE’s 2006 annual report showed a strong following of fans in males aged 14 to 34. Taking this into account, the designated target population of this study was university students aged 18-34. In addition to its representation of the WWE fan base, this demographic was also deemed appropriate due to the fact that university students fall into the age demographic (18-34) that is most sought after by sport producers. According to Turco (1996), college students differ significantly from other markets in their consuming behaviors. Therefore, surveys were distributed to over 500 students and a total of 107 viable questionnaires were obtained using SurveyMonkey. Within the collected sample, 40 students were from a public university in South Korea and 67 students were taking Sport Exercise and Science (SES) activity classes from April 23 to May 4, 2007, at the University of Northern Colorado. This sample size was intended to be used as a pilot study for future research.

The questionnaire was comprised of several sections with a total of 35 items. Part of the survey contained questions to gain information about general demographics of spectators, WWE-related information, and marketing-related information. Requested demographic information included age, sex, marital status, and household income. This survey was formulated to WWE marketing channels before the questions for demographic information. The objective of the study was to provide other related information necessary to assist WWE in developing effective marketing strategies. It took respondents approximately 15 minutes to complete the questionnaire.

The data was collected through SurveyMonkey from April 23 to April 30 in 2007. The researcher contacted course instructors and obtained consent from them to disseminate the surveys. Permission to conduct the study was obtained from the author’s Institutional Review Board, which approved the methodology and survey instrument. All participants were informed in advance that participation was voluntary and that all information would remain confidential and anonymous. They were able to refuse and decide to stop responding at anytime. 107 survey questionnaires were distributed randomly. A total of 103 usable surveys were collected. All questionnaires were answered anonymously. It was assumed that the participants in the survey gave honest and thoughtful responses to each question.

Data Analysis
A cross tabulation is the process of taking two variables and tabulating the results of one variable against the other variable. A cross-tabulation gives us a basic picture of how two variables inter-relate. It aids us in searching for patterns of interaction. Each cell indicates the number of respondents that gave a specific combination of responses, that is, each cell contains a single cross tabulation. A cross tabulation was performed to examine the correlation between the different variables and various demographic make-up of its fan base. Descriptive statistics were also calculated for each of the demographics. SPSS 13.0 for Windows was utilized to perform the above statistical analyses.

The participants of this study included Caucasian, Asian, African-American, and Hispanic populations. Of the 107 total respondents, 55% considered themselves Caucasian and 38% considered themselves Asian. Only 7% of the responses gathered this study were from African-American and Hispanic (Chart 1). Figure 1 indicates that there is a significant difference between various ethnic groups. The majority of Caucasian respondents indicated that they made their decision to go to the WWE event to entertain guests, while most Asian respondents preferred attending the event to spend time with their families.

CHART 1 Demographics of Participants
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FIGURE 1 Factors to Go to the WWE Event
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Overall, giveaways were not seen as a significant factor in determining whether or not to go to the WWE event. In addition, in the question regarding the importance of the excitement offered by WWE, approximately 90 % of female respondents provided a response of neutral or less. 29% of male respondents produced a neutral response (Table 1).

TABLE 1 The Levels of Excitement by WWE
Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 4.55.30 PM

One of the interesting findings in this study is that while the majority of Caucasian respondents watched over 3 hours of television a week, their Asian counterparts reported watching less than 5 hours of television in a single week (Table 2). According to the WWE Report (2006), the majority of the WWE fan base was Caucasian. However, the results of this study indicate that 52% of Caucasian respondents were not watching WWE events on television. In general, the results of this study indicated that there were more male than female spectators at WWE events. The majority of the respondents who attended the events was from middle-income families and was Caucasian.

TABLE 2 Hours of Watching WWE on Television
Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 9.33.39 AM

A large proportion of the spectators were single. The people in different age groups differed significantly in the marketing channels. Those 30 years of age or younger appear to be more interested in attending the events, ordering pay-per-view, and visiting the WWE site. In regards to ethnicity, not only did very few Hispanic people attend WWE events, but very few participated in or were affected by the other marketing strategies.

According to the responses, pay-per-view and the website were the most effective sources of information about WWE. CD’s, home videos, print media, and other items were relatively less effective sources of information for WWE. Consequently, WWE should develop additional weekly television programming through creative and entertaining events while strengthening its pay-per-view marketing efforts to reach new consumers.

In essence, WWE must strengthen its existing television and pay-per-view distribution relationships and develop broader distribution arrangements for WWE branded programming worldwide. This can be accomplished by continuing to produce high quality, exciting live events, branded programming, and consumer products for global distribution.

In addition, WWE must develop its story lines by further integrating contemporary themes and increasing its focus on the continuous cultivation of skilled, young, entertaining characters to complement its pool of established talent. This can be accomplished by recruiting, developing, and maintaining a roster of highly skilled athletes who possess the physical presence, acting ability, and charisma to develop into popular performers. WWE should also augment the licensing and direct sales of WWE branded goods through its distribution channels while cultivating its Internet operations to further promote the brand and develop additional sources of revenue. In addition, the organization should also inflate the licensing and direct sale of WWE branded merchandise, and bring the distribution of home videos, CD’s and publications in-house.
WWE must meet certain objectives if it wants to achieve its goal and be the number one entertainment business in the United States or among the Hispanic Community. While advertising and broadcasting in Spanish may invite Latino and Hispanic consumers to the arena, the presence of Spanish-speaking ushers, vendors, and customer service representatives will ensure an enjoyable experience. According to Sergio Del Prado, Los Angeles Dodgers’ Vice President of sales and marketing (summarized in 10 Tips for Reaching Hispanic Consumers, 2007), “one thing where people really drop the ball, you get [Latinos] to commit, and then they come to the ballpark and nobody speaks the language and they feel different than anyone else.”

A Hispanic marketing blitz should contain promotions in the Hispanic newspapers, on Hispanic TV channels, and on Hispanic radio stations. Heavy advertising through all these media outlets will enhance the WWE brand name and symbol in the Hispanic community. Spending on advertising to Hispanic media outlets should be double that of English speaking outlets. WWE does not want to be an organization for the elite, but an organization that all of the country, regardless of income and race, can enjoy and love. This end message has to be communicated to WWE’s prospective Hispanic fan base in order for WWE to become profitable in the Hispanic community.

In addition to Hispanics, young people are a second market that WWE must target in order to achieve lucrative success. WWE must gear its consideration toward the young generation, a mission that can be accomplished by concentrating on young people while they are at school. WWE must work with the schools to generate programs and initiatives that spark the students’ interests. This can be accomplished through WWE ticket and merchandise giveaways. For instance, students who accomplish a certain GPA receive four tickets to a WWE live event. At the event, WWE will acknowledge their accomplishments with either scoreboard or public address recognition during a break in activities. This sort of program could generate short-term expenses, but will benefit WWE in the end. These students and their parents will become consumers of the WWE’s brand and will subsequently be more interested in WWE’s product. This interest will bring them back to the live events, where additional marketing strategies can move them up the consumer escalator.

Considering the time people normally spend on watching TV, television promotion showed high efficiency to communicate the information about WWE events to the respondents. However, it is obvious that TV advertising is the most expensive means to promote any event. Due to the fact that most people who attend WWE events are working class and spend plenty of time in their automobile driving regularly, radio is a comparatively cost-effective and efficient method to market a WWE event.

The aim of this study was to analyze the effectiveness of various WWE marketing platforms and the demographic composition of its fan base. What was discovered was that many people cannot pay for the price of a WWE event. The price is too costly for many people living in the United States at the present time and many of WWE’s prospective consumers consider a live event as a novelty and not a usual night of entertainment. Providing new ticket plans that are reasonable for the majority of U. S. residents would be exceedingly favorable to WWE. It would augment its revenue and attendance in a very short period of time and supply WWE with a stronger fan base for the future.

WWE should implement new forms of entertainment and build brands that harmonize its existing businesses, including the improvement of new television programming that will extend beyond its current offerings. Such formulations will appeal to WWE’s targeted demographic market and build up branded location-based entertainment businesses directly or through licensing agreements, joint business enterprises, and other preparations. For the promotion to be flourishing and fill the stands, this decision must be made based on knowledge of WWE’s prospective spectators, their characteristics, and behavior patterns.


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2. Boston has highest average for 10th straight season. (2007, March). Retrieved from

3. Brenner, S. (2004). A world of opportunity. Sport Business Journal, 15-16.

4. Gresson, A. D. (1998). Professional wrestling and youth culture: Testing, taunting, and the containment of civility. Boulder, CO: Westview.

5. Kwon, H., & Armstrong, K. (2004). An exploration of the construct of psychological attachment to a sport team among college students: A multidimensional approach. Sport Marketing Quarterly, 13(2), 82–93.

6. McCarthy, E. J., & Perreault, W. D. (1990). Basic Marketing (10th Edition.) Boston: Irwin.

7. Pitts, B. G., & Stotlar, D. K. (2002). Fundamentals of Sport Marketing (2nd Edition.). Morgan town, WV: Fitness Information Technology.

8. Stotlar, D. K. (2005). Developing successful sport marketing plans. Morgan town, WV: Fitness Information Technology.

9. Turco, D. (1994). Event sponsorship: effects on consumer brand loyalty and consumption. Sport Marketing Quarterly, 3(3), 42 – 45.

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11. 10 tips for reaching Hispanic consumers. (2007, January 22). Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal, 9(37). Retrieved April 5, 2007, from

2014-02-06T09:44:56+00:00February 6th, 2014|Contemporary Sports Issues, General, Sports Marketing, Sports Studies and Sports Psychology|Comments Off on An Empirical Analysis of the Effectiveness of World Wrestling Entertainment Marketing Strategies

The Impact of Social Media on the Awareness of the Olympic Movement

Submitted by Lawrence Judge, Don Lee, Jeffrey Petersen, David Bellar, Karin Surber, and Chelsie Krill

The Olympic Games are an established sports festival garnering a tremendous amount of public attention and awareness, while the X Games and the Youth Olympic Games are relatively new events targeted toward a younger audience. The purpose of this study was to collect awareness and opinion data from undergraduate students in sport administration, exercise science and sport pedagogy from a university in the Midwestern United States regarding the then upcoming Winter Youth Olympic Games, London Olympic Games and Winter X Games. The level of familiarity and public awareness of the 2012 Youth Olympic Games was generally very low (mean scores for both were 1.9 out of 7.0). In contrast, the participants expressed more familiarity with X Games as indicated by higher mean scores (4.4 and 4.6 measured out of 7.0, respectively). Similarly, the participants expressed greater familiarity with 2012 London Olympic Games as evidenced by higher mean scores (5.6 and 5.7 measured out of 7.0, respectively). Additional correlation and multiple regression analyses examined the relationships of event awareness, familiarity, social media and other marketing efforts on the intent to attend these sport festival or to watch them on television. The results of this study indicate rather poor results for the social media campaign promoting the Youth Olympic Games. ANOVA tests additionally indicated that participants’ intention to watch games and follow social media on the events were significantly different as the levels of both familiarity and public awareness changed.

The Olympic Games (OG) are a historic, century’s old world-wide sports festival garnering extraordinary amounts of public attention and awareness (13). The X Games and the Youth Olympic Games, on the other hand, are comparatively new events that are targeted toward a younger audience (3, 9). The 2010 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) became the third sport festival event ever introduced by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), while the X Games (XG) and Winter X Games (WXG) began in 1995 and 1997, respectively (7). The world-wide exposure of the OG has increased dramatically during recent decades primarily due to the advances in media coverage and technology. Younger generations, however, may be losing interest in Olympic Sports due to the proliferation of extreme sports and becoming more interested in non-traditional sporting events like the XG. To create excitement and interest in these newly created events with the millennial generation (born between 1980-2000), the effective use of social media marketing can be used to specifically target this audience with messages tailored for each market segment (10). Social media could prove to be an effective communication channel for the millennial generation because the social media platform has become an essential part of their everyday lives (10).

Social media marketing utilizes various forms of internet-based electronic communication tools, forums and sites that offer customized messaging to very specific audiences. By utilizing social media marketing, the events associated with the Olympic movement may experience greater success with communicating to intended audiences with more relevant messaging. Likewise, the IOC has actively been encouraging its participants to use social media to blog, post, comment, and tweet during the OG (8). However, the IOC has implemented strict guidelines for participants and other accredited persons related to what and how he/she shall post, blog, or tweet while at the OG. The primary goals of the Olympic movement are to be associated with youth, health, sportsmanship, peace, education, and enjoyment; ideals encapsulated in the Olympic Charter (13). However, the youth of today have far more varied interests and distractions than during past decades when the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, each contested every four years, were more eagerly anticipated. Through events and marketing efforts targeting youth, the International Olympic Committee seeks to reignite interest in Olympic sports within a generation of increasingly inactive and overweight adolescents.

The IOC’s strategy for marketing the upcoming London Olympic Games (LOG) and the subsequent Youth Olympic Games (YOG) includes efforts to help create new generations of young athletes that have an ethical approach to sport with strong values and principles (8). They also look to educate young people on the importance of living healthy lives and lower the climbing youth obesity rate. Another goal of the committee is to inform young people about the problems that arise from doping and excessive training (8). IOC President, Jacques Rogge has taken it a step further and stated that he wants the YOG to be more about education than about competition. The main goal, according to Rogge, is to give the young athletes an education based on Olympic values. He elaborates further by stating that the main emphasis of the YOG is for athletes to enjoy the event. Not only was the event about the athletes gaining an education based on Olympic values, but the YOG has also established several related programs such as a Young Reporters program and a Young Ambassadors program to give invaluable Olympic experience and education. The Culture and Education Program (CEP) was designed to promote skill development, social responsibility and expression to the YOG participants through digital media efforts (8). The Culture and Education Program (CEP) was formed to create an atmosphere that would inspire the athletes to view their competitors not as mere competitors, but as lifelong friends (12). This can be seen carried over in the Olympic Games as well with distance runners Mo Farah (Great Britain) and Galen Rupp (U.S.A.) who became training partners due to their coach Alberto Salazar and British intermediaries. Rupp and Farah became great friends through the process and talked about anything but running; encompassing the Olympic ideals throughout the way (12). In promoting the YOG, they needed not concern themselves with the singular focus on winning and competing typically associated with the larger Olympic Games. Krieger’s (11) study of a group of (German) athletes showed that they were dissatisfied with what the IOC saw as one of the success stories of the first YOG in Singapore, the Culture and Education Program (CEP); yet, the athletes enjoyed the unplanned or unexpected experiences that come with being at an international multi-sport event and staying at the athletes’ village. Such a finding supports Gold and Gold’s (5, p. 405) assertion that the YOG are “an important step in helping to return the Olympics to something of their roots” and could help the IOC consolidate and enhance the Olympic brand. To do so, however, requires innovation in discipline selection and the cooperation of the international sport federations (2).

Since the ability to impact sport and engage a younger audience will initially hinge on audience awareness, it is important to understand how the event is viewed by various stakeholders. The external stakeholders of the YOG (athletes, international delegations, athletes and their mission/support staff, media, sponsors, and the community) can to be explored by using the network approach to gain a better understanding of how the various pressures created by the YOG are experienced (8). The network approach is a construct that allows examination of changes in the interconnections between the actors involved (6). A variety of internal and external stakeholders exist with the OG, those organizations, groups, individuals which have an impact or are impacted by the local organization (4). Exploring the newly framed YOG using a network approach helps to explain how various stakeholders exert various forms of pressure on YOG (19). The IOC, the media, and the parents were the three primary stakeholders with the most influence on the development of the YOG. Two main points can be made in this regard. First, utilizing the network analysis, independently and in relation to each other, the YOG needs to take into account the needs of all three stakeholders. The high salience of these three stakeholders means that the organizational survival of the YOG is dependent on all of them; they must be satisfied to a sufficient level, as determined by the stakeholders, in order for the YOG to gain legitimacy and survive, as well as be successful (1,15,17).

The network approach could help in understanding certain processes and activities connected with the YOG’s sustainability potential (19). The stakeholders have a bigger impact on the sustainability potential of the YOG than they would in the OG because less attention is paid by the media by design (19). Sponsors could have a different degree of involvement with less attention paid to the YOG by the media, and this could affect the sustainability potential because they are a primary funding source for the Olympic Movement (19). However, the stakeholders’ expectations, needs, and interests should be considered as they may change as the YOG changes with time, especially with the emergence and impact of social media (19). Public awareness and effective messaging of the LOG and YOG will play a critical role in drawing advertising and sponsorship dollars for future OG and YOG events. The economic and tourism impact are key determining components of the legacy that the YOG will leave for Nanjing. In addition, it is important to understand present and future coach and sport practitioner awareness and how they view the creation of such an event. The purpose of this study was to collect awareness and opinion data from undergraduate students in sport administration, exercise science and sport pedagogy from a university in the Midwestern United States regarding the then upcoming winter YOG, upcoming LOG and upcoming WXG. This manuscript will review the basic characteristics and behaviors of millennial consumers, effective marketing techniques to reach this audience in meaningful ways and the marketing strategy changes adopted by the IOC to increase their reach and impact for future Olympic events.

Sample and Procedure
Students majoring in sport management, exercise science and sport pedagogy were surveyed during the 2012 winter YOG to assess the event’s global marketing efforts. The survey instrument was composed of six demographic elements and five research-related questions, and was modeled upon a previously developed and tested instrument (9). This current survey was modified from the original instrument with changes to the demographic elements and the addition of scaled questions related to intention to attend or view the London Olympic Games (LOG), Winter X Games (WXG) and future Youth Olympic Games (YOG) events. In order to verify both content and face validity, the instrument was reviewed by a panel of experts in the area of youth sport. The demographic components included: gender, coaching experience, sport administration/management experience, athletic background, parental status, and nation of residency. A seven-point Likert-scale method was used for ranking the dependent variables of the study which included: perceived personal awareness of the YOG, perceived public awareness of the YOG, intention of YOG event attendance, and intention to view the YOG on television. Questions were added to the present study to measure the social networking habits and behaviors of the subjects. The final question was a multiple choice element requiring the recognition of the correct logo of the YOG, WXG and the LOG from a selection of five similar graphic designs. Both the survey and the research protocol were reviewed and approved by the appropriate university Institutional Review Board (IRB).

Data Analysis
Descriptive and analytical statistics were calculated for the overall variables using SPSS version 18.0. Two multiple regression analyses were conducted to examine the extent to which the independent factors (familiarity with the YOG initiative, level of general public awareness, accessibility to social networking/media sites, advertisements on social media sites, importance of traditional means of newspapers and magazines, importance of traditional means of TV and radio, and utilization of World Wide Web to gain information) influenced 1) the intention to watch televised Youth Olympic Games, and 2) the intention to attend future Youth Olympic Games. The sample (N = 256) consisted of 58% of males and 42% of females with ages ranging from 18 to 50 with the mean age of 21.0 (SD = 4.58).

Descriptive Statistics
From the descriptive statistics, nearly 54% of the participants had no coaching experience while 41% and 7% of them had coaching experience in youth sports and public/private school, respectively. A total of 73% of the participants were former athletes, while 18% and 10% of them are current athletes and had no athletic experience, respectively. Participants’ sport leadership background was assessed, and the following was found: no leadership background (83%), local sport official (15%), and local sport administrator (3%).

The level of personal familiarity and perceptions of general public awareness of the 2012 Y OG was generally very low (the mean scores were below 2.0 out of 7.0). In contrast, the participants expressed more familiarity with the WXG as indicated by higher mean scores (4.4 and 4.6 measured out of 7.0, respectively). Similarly, the participants expressed more familiarity with the 2012 LOG as evidenced by higher mean scores (5.6 and 5.7 measured out of 7.0, respectively; (see Table 1).

Table 1 Descriptive Statistics
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Correlation Analysis
Statistically significant correlation values were found between independent factors (familiarity and general public awareness) and dependent measures (intention to attend, watch, and follow social media). The only exception was that general public awareness of the 2012 London Olympic Games was not statistically significantly correlated with intention to attend the event (see Table 2).

Table 2 Correlations
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Multiple Regression Analysis
Multiple regression analyses were performed to examine the extent to which independent factors (the level of familiarity with and the general public awareness of the designated sporting events) influence participants’ intention to watch televised coverage of the YOG, WXG and the LOG, follow social media related with the three events, or attend the three events. The overall results revealed that the two independent variables collectively explained small to large amount of variance in the dependent measures (variance explained ranged from 9% to 55%). At the univariate level, several significant findings were revealed. First, the level of familiarity with the designated games and the general level of public awareness of the games consistently impacted participants’ intention to watch and follow social media related with 2012 YOG, 2012 WXG, and 2012 LOG. However, none of the examined independent factors had statistically significant impact on the participants’ intention to attend any of the three tested sport festivals. The overall regression results confirmed consistent patterns observed in the mean scores and correlation values (see Table 3).

Table 3 Summary of Significant Multiple Regression Analysis Results of the Independent Variables on the Intention to Watch Events on Television or Follow Events on Social Media

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Analysis of Variance (ANOVA)
As a post hoc test, ANOVAs were used to examine statistical differences in the dependent behaviors due to different levels of familiarity and public awareness of the games. The analyses were all significant, F values ranged from 47.53 to 96.12. The overall results indicated that participants’ intention to watch games and follow social media on the events were significantly different as the levels of both familiarity and public awareness changed (see Table 4).

The IOC’s good intentions, regarding the establishment of the YOG, were not met with the requisite effort to draw sufficient public attention to the event (9). Olympic competition, in general, draws great world-wide attention, with the 2008 Games in Beijing drawing the largest global audience in Olympic history (9). As for the LOG it appears to have a high level of awareness from the students in the present study. In Table 1, the descriptive statistics show the mean number of students’ in the present study “intention to follow social media” of the YOG (2.10) is nearly two-thirds that of the WXG (3.31) and even less than half the mean of the LOG (4.68). This means that even with the impact social media has on the millennial generation, it is not impacting the YOG as much as it has with the popular X Games and Olympic Games. As the winter YOG approached, the event received very little attention from the mainstream media and the personal awareness and perceived public awareness of the students in the present study was very low. With the addition of 966,110 Google followers, 1,931,365 Facebook fans, and 1,686,762 Twitter followers to its social media fan base the LOG has been nicknamed the “Social” OG (13). While 166 networks worldwide covered the 2010 summer YOG, high levels of coverage on top networks were lacking (9). Perhaps the IOC selection of a non-American broadcast company for the broadcasting rights of the 2010 YOG demonstrated their commitment to avoiding the evolution of becoming a commercialized mega-event and to consider the best interests of the participants. The IOC appointed Media Corp, SingTel, and Star Hub as the official broadcasters within Singapore for the inaugural YOG in 2010. However, Olympic Broadcasting Services, the host broadcast subsidiary that is wholly owned by the IOC, was responsible for delivering to these three organizations and broadcasters around the world, a number of live broadcast feeds and a 24-hour Youth Olympic News Channel, which incorporated two daily highlight programs. The coverage embraced all broadcast platforms, including free-to-air television, radio, cable television, mobile phone and online (9). This greater level of IOC control over the media coverage may have been put in place to guard against an over-commercialized and nationalized message. But, based on the results of the present study there may have been a lack of interest in the event by U.S. television networks because of a limited audience for the new event. In contrast, the XG’s were arranged and are controlled by the U.S. sports broadcaster ESPN (with coverage also shown on its sister network ABC)(3) .

The authors recently reviewed the new marketing assets for the 2012 Innsbruck YOG and found some improvements. The website content has been updated and is more interactive than the inaugural YOG site. The primary focus on the front page was on a contest for youth around sending photographs of their personal performance of a YOG sporting category. Additionally, the site offered various school focused initiatives including a program to connect various schools across the globe to encourage international collaboration and communication. A second program, the YOG School Sports Challenge, was designed to introduce youth to the 15 sport categories included in YOG and encourages a local school led sporting challenge to be held during the 2012 YOG (7). In addition, the site asked visitors to identify themselves as one of the following: a youth, a fan, or a volunteer. Visitors were then directed to customized content. These enhancements to the site added significant relevance to millennials and should impact the number of repeat visitors to the site. In contrast, the Facebook site, which is a primary social media vehicle, was static and did not appear to have any updated information. Ideally, the Facebook site would have content updated several times a week if not daily to drive adoption of members and sharing of content. There were no additional social media sites available or mentioned from the Facebook site. However, on the YOG website there are other social media sites available such as Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and Google Plus. There is even a large Twitter bird logo stating “Check out our Twitter feed” showing what the YOG has previously tweeted to help promote itself with the growing social market. The @innsbruck2012, which was the Twitter screen name during the 2012 YOG, currently has 2,901 followers during its YOG period. On the @innsbruck2012’s profile it also shows other screen names fans could have also followed to stay up-to-date on the 2012 YOG. The fans could have also tweeted about their favorite “trend”, for example the website had #innsbruck2012 to spread the excitement of the YOG as a “trend” (7).

The Nanjing Youth Olympic Games Organizing Committee announced that the Internet Services sponsor will be Tencent for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games (18). Tencent, using its already strong influence among young audiences, plan to include key features on the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games website such as sports program and results, culture and educational activities, and interactive games targeted at youth (18). One Olympian diving champion relates her excitement about her ability to share her experiences at the upcoming 2014 YOG with the World (18). However, there has yet to be additions of any social media sites to the website such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google +, or the like, but this could be due to the newness of the website and the announcement of Tier One sponsor Tencent (18).

Based on these results, it can be extrapolated that the general publicity and marketing activities surrounding the YOG event were not as effective as needed to drive event attendance or television viewing, and thus, self-sustaining revenue to fund the events. The participants in the present study were more aware of the X Games and the LOG. Sport marketers can take from the results of the present study and learn how to better market toward the millennial generation. For example, marketers can utilize social media during the more popular XG and OG to promote the YOG. The LOG website started promotion of the Second YOG that will be held in Nanjing. There is a direct link from the LOG’s website to the Nanjing YOG’s website for fans to explore and begin learning about the 2014 YOG (13). Sport marketers could also expand their study on social media by taking a methodological approach to the social network theory in the future. The social network theory could solidify the measurement and analysis of how the relational properties of social media impact the YOG, XG, and the OG (19). An alternative route that researchers may take is a type of cross-sectional study. Researchers may consider conducting a study that compares behavioral variations of millennial generation who may associate themselves as a fan of professional sports than collegiate sports. Analyzing the efficacy of the marketing and awareness campaigns is an important step in improving future results, and insuring the long term success of a relatively new event like the YOG. Analyzing these campaigns can be difficult due to the numerous variables involved, and the fact that the “newness” of the YOG provided little historical comparative data.


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2014-02-05T09:28:54+00:00February 5th, 2014|Contemporary Sports Issues|Comments Off on The Impact of Social Media on the Awareness of the Olympic Movement