“Da Da Da. Da Da Da.” Not to be confused with The Police song “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da” from 1980’s Zenyatta Mondatta album. But rather the most recognizable intro to the most popular sports program to ever hit the airwaves – ESPN’s Sports Center. Now, try it again. “Da Da Da. Da Da Da.” This pretty little ditty is perhaps the cornerstone to ESPN’s evolution into the perfect integrated marketing machine.
Let’s take a quick look at the various ESPN business units: ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNU, ESPN News, ESPN Deportes, ESPN the Magazine, ESPN.go.com, ESPN Wireless, ESPN Zone, ESPN Radio, ESPY Awards, ESPN Video Games, etc. And this is a partial list!
Google sports and of the close to 2 billion results, ESPN sits in the number 1 organic position. Watch any ESPN TV station, and you see commercials for other ESPN stations. Head to Borders and leaf through ESPN the Magazine. While watching this year’s Super Bowl you may have witnessed an ad for the recently launched ESPN Wireless. Visiting New York or Chicago? Eat and drink at the ESPN Zone. Shopping at Best Buy for the new PS2? ESPN video games are popular favorites. For new Sirius subscribers, it’s not just about Howard; ESPN Radio is on the satellite radio scene.
Is ESPN the perfect integrated marketing machine? To me the answer is a simple yes. Or as my favorite Sports Center anchor Stuart Scott would say, “Booya!” I’m sure there is an argument for many other brands, but it is March Madness and I fall smack dab in the middle of ESPN’s target market.
ESPN is the blueprint for any company striving for a consistent marketing and branding message, online and offline. Sure, ESPN is a powerhouse with deep pockets, but that doesn’t mean that Entrepreneur Joe Somebody, with a vision of running his own brick-and-mortar specialized sporting goods store, shouldn’t emulate ESPN’s model. After all, back in 1979, ESPN was a start up with a small audience and its share of naysayers.
Comparing niche networks, what does the “M” in MTV stand for anyway? At one time it stood for “Music.” But that surely isn’t the case anymore. ESPN has always been about sports entertainment and its customers. It has not lost focus. As a result, new ESPN products are a must have for its audience. This has not happened by accident or by luck, but by staying consistent throughout the years and refusing to waver from its core business of everything sports.
For promising start-ups (or as Dicky V. would say, “a true blue chipper, a diaper dandy Baby!”) and large, established enterprises, there is much to learn from the perfect integrated marketing machine about creating a focused plan that is “as cool as the other side of the pillow.” Thanks again Stuart.