April 13, 2010
 

2006 Sports & MadAve Trade Media Medicine

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The State of The Union :--) Can Superman & Clark Kent Save The Madison Avenue Trade Marketplace?

This weekend's SuperBowl is the pinnacle; the crown jewel of the entire sports marketing business and is always one super show. It's no coincidence that another super show, The Super Show, the annual Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association: (SGMA) International show is held this time each year.

This year's Annual International Show, which ran from January 23-through 25 in Orlando is to sports marketing as the CES is to consumer electronics. Attended by thousands of sports marketing people from all around the world, it's where sports marketing insiders conduct the ever increasing consumer interest in sports marketing products, as well as sports as entertainment.

Now that the industry trade show is over, both the trade and consumers together anticipate the excitement, thrills, chills and excitement of the The SuperBowl XL this Sunday on ABC.

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With so much going on, we asked two superstars in their own right, Superman and Clark Kent to sit down and talk to us and each other on the status of the sports marketing and media business in 2006. Boy, are we glad we did. Their conversation threw us a curve ball on what's going on in their related businesses. We had no idea the problems they face as we enter the 2006 sports media season.

As a well-known media reporter and long time fan and attendee of the show, Clark Kent normally finds himself as the interviewer, though for this, he allowed the tables to be turned on him and let Superman be the journalist.

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Superman: ...is the tape on? Great. So...Clark, we missed you this year down in Orlando. Personally I wanted to hang with you and walk The SuperShow with me. Last week's event just wasn't the same without you. We've always been there together, checking out the new sporting goods products and having a great time with the vendors. Everyone was asking for you. I wasn't exactly sure what to say. You're like my alter-ego. Plus, you're one heck of a reporter, regardless what Ms. Lane says. What made to you skip the show? Don't you love the sports marketing business anymore?

Kent: Superman, nothing could be further from the truth. I love covering sports marketing. First of all, I kept abreast of everything I could from the Internet. I wanted to be there, honest. I still love the sports marketing business, but I love the media business even more. I needed to be here on Madison Avenue. Right now that's where I belong and I need your help.

Superman: Sure. I'll do anything I can to help. What's the problem?

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Kent: Well, let me explain by using a sports analogy. Take the sporting goods business for example. The SGMA/SuperShow attracts literally thousands of manufacturers, all of which are governed by 6 industry sports associations.

National Standards Bodies of Sports
- National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE)

Governing Bodies of Sports
- National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics
- National Collegiate Athletic Association
- National Federation of State High School Associations
- National Junior College Athletic Association

Professional/Exempt Sports Organizations
- National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletic

Allied Foreign Trade Associations
- European Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (FESI)

Kent: In that way, it's very similar to the Madison Avenue trade companies. But that's where it ends. You have a handful of media groups that are supposed to be playing referee to the media business, but they aren't.

Superman: Really?

Kent: Superman, it gets even better. On top of the 6 associations--since sports itself is a buising business--there are 30 health and sports medicine organizations also available to help companies and players who need help when they're just learning the game. People in the sports business are all judged by their performance and ability to play the game. The difference though is that Madison Avenue doesn't have 30 media marketplace health organizations to keep the communications business healthy. It doesn't even have one. Based on the status of trade media coverage today, it shows.

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Let me list just 10 of the 30 sports medicine organizations. Check out the SGMA site if you want to see them all:

1. American Academy of Family Physicians
2. American Academy of Pediatrics
3. American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine
4. American Association for Active Lifestyles and Fitness
5. American College Health Association
6. American College of Sports Medicine
7. American Dental Association
8. American Kinesiotherapy Association
9. American Medical Association
10. American Medical Society for Sports Medicine

These 30 sports organizations govern the sports business as healthy as it can possibly get. They keep their eye on the competitive landscape. All's fair in love and war, though talent and excellence has always helped provide a more level playing field. Talent and excellence have nothing to do with the MadAve trades. That's not how the game is being played anymore. It's much uglier.

Superman: Okay, now I'm beginning to understand.

Kent: Sports has grown larger while MadAve and its media companies business have grown smaller. It's now run by a handful trade media publishers, who instead of helping nurture new blood into the business are going postal on anyone who tries to breathe some air into the marketplace.

Superman: But Clark, I understand the effects of consolidation. Personally, I've lost some of my hero-power status with the growth of super-hero consolidation. The fans who used to get inspired by my heroic feats--reading about my battling various demons, sinister forces and just plain old bad guys--can now choose between me and any one of my fellow do-gooders.

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Every week super-hero fans have a bunch of new action-adventure case studies to see us save the day and help them understand the difference between right and wrong. There are literally dozens of them out there. Here are just a few:

1. AQUAMAN #39
2. BLOOD OF THE DEMON #12
3. GOTHAM CENTRAL #40
4. GREEN ARROW VOL. 6: MOVING TARGETS
5. HARD TIME SEASON TWO #3
6 JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED #18
7. THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #14
8. OUTSIDERS #33
9. RANN/THANAGAR WAR: INFINITE CRISIS SPECIAL
10. SUPERMAN: MAN OF TOMORROW ARCHIVES VOL. 2

I'm just one of a bunch of adventure-doers fans read about. Times have changed Clark, you have to change with it. It's good for fans to know that they are others besides myself. It's healthier in the long run, Clark.

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Kent: I agree completely. That's just the point! Your business is giving people more choices. MadAve is getting fewer choices. No one is challenging your integrity, your character, your reputation. They're challenging your strength. No one is calling you Smeared-man or Stupor-man. How does a person or a small company compete and have any chance at all when the competition is simply concentrating on hitting below the belt the entire game? There's no referee. And trade advertisers are nervous as heck, since they may become the target of bad media trade press if they don't play ball.

Fear has taken over what was once a creative business. Now it's "might makes right" that wins the day over creativity. Something's wrong with that. The media business is supposed to be about truth and creativity. Superman, What do you think?

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Superman: Sounds like online media publishers are now doing to some of the newer trade e-zines what they were complaining about years ago when it was being done to them with traditional media! Clark, we have to do something about it. I have an idea... :--)

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