Jack Norworth had never attended a baseball game.
But he was a straphanger fan, a New York subway driver.
The poster advertising the subway car he saw one day in 1908 for a baseball game at the Polo Grounds inspired him to write “Take me to the ball game.”
Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer wrote the ultimate professional sports anthem… with no passion for the game, no understanding of its intricacies and no idea their song would last.
Tin Pan Alley’s anthem for the seventh inning of baseball is perhaps the deepest integration of song and sport.
But the onset of the football season brings us back to the complex intersection of music, marketing and sports.
It reminds us of the challenges marketers face in making sure their sports campaigns hit the right marks.
“The best musical choice for a sports campaign is something with a frequency that rings true with a large proportion of fans and rivals,” says David Meltzer, CEO of Sports 1 Marketing.
“Whether it’s a popular song or a relatively unknown song choice, the music should help amplify and perpetuate the central message of your sports marketing campaigns. “
How marketers can refine the sports soundtrack
The sport’s soundtrack, now over a century old, features a diverse lineup … fight songs, rap releases, and an unlikely collection of reborn Top Forty tracks in the form of stadium hymns.
Gary Glitter’s 1972 hit “Rock And Roll Part 2” was an early favorite sports anthem.
The same goes for Steam’s # 1 hit in 1969, “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye”.
Beyond the confines of the stadium, music, marketing and sport come together to create what can often be a bizarre marketing stew.
What’s the best starting point for a music-based sports marketing campaign?
“Explore the right artists,” says Rosemary Waldrip, MAX vice president of marketing, Music Audience Exchange.
“Like sports, music forges strong, interwoven social bonds that are best understood through data analysis. But unlike sports fans, the tastes of music fans are never limited to one artist or genre.
“By finding artists who represent the distinct musical identities of a brand’s sought-after fans, whether it’s a regional artist who represents the hometown hero or a nationally known artist, the key is to use audience data to partner with artists who can deliver the brand’s message to the right audiences in an authentic way.
Whether or not to run a safe game
The sports marketer faced with decisions about campaign music usually follows one of two paths.
“I think there are really two distinct approaches to finding authentic music for a sports campaign,” says Meltzer.
“You can select songs that are already strongly associated with a player, team, city or sport, something that you know is aligned with your market. The risk / reward option is to take a new or unfamiliar piece of music, which is not already in a fanbase’s subconscious, and use it to send a new message.
The heritage and elements linked to the tradition of the sport can get in the way.
“Some marketers tend to overemphasize tradition, without exploring ways to organically create new traditions with a unifying message,” says Meltzer.
“The consideration of the built-in ‘enemies’ that almost any sports marketing campaign will see is something that some decision makers do not take into account.
“The best campaigns stimulate interest and discussion from enemies and die-hard fans almost as much. “
And when that interest is stimulated, the sports marketer who uses music effectively to emphasize the message can score points.