Saturday, June 17, 2006

Soccer or Basketball?

Do you follow the worldwide excitement about the 2006 World Cup? Or are you part of the parallel US universe where the NBA finals get significantly more attention? Or are you part of both sports universes? Asking these questions any serious marketer might trigger the intellectual exercise of searching for parallels or differences between both sports and marketing.

Let’s first analyze the key differences between these two sports with focus on its scoring particularities. Soccer is a low scoring game where one big move can decide a whole game, whereas Basketball is about constant scoring till the last minute. The basketball is much less about one big move but about the art and constant pressure of scoring 40 or 50 times.

My hypothesis is that marketing has evolved from being a game of soccer to a game of basketball. Why? 10 years ago marketing was predominantly about the one big idea, the one big bold move that decided a game, the one huge score that decided the winner. Nowadays marketing is much more an aggressive game of continuous scoring, much more about a multitude of different ways of making points and defending than the one moment of brilliance.

Therefore it might not be as surprising that the US is perceived as the global marketing leader, since a high scoring game like basketball has such a tremendous support and fan base. Global Marketers might all start to think more like basketball coaches despite our personal preference for a beautiful game like soccer. Definitely one aspect of modern marketing is different from both fascinating sports games: The game is never over, there is never a real winner, just someone temporarily ahead which could change any minute.


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