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If you are of a certain age, you probably remember weekend afternoons in front of the TV set, watching Chris Schenkel call the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) tournament of the week. Big names like Dick Weber and Don Carter would compete every week in a sport that a lot of us played at our hometown lanes. It was a big deal if there was a PBA stop near you.
And, it hasn’t been that long ago, in March of 2000, that the PBA tour got a jolt of enthusiasm (and cash) when former Microsoft executives Chris Peters, Rob Glaser and Mike Slade resurrected the tour, albeit for a short time. By 2009, when the economy was starting to take a hit, so did the PBA Tour, cutting the number of tour stops and overall events, with many of the tournament finals now shown on tape instead of live. In between the Professional Women’s Bowling Association went out of business in 2003, and now men and women compete equally on the tour.
Now, the latest, and possibly, final blow to a once proud tour, the U.S. Open, one of the top bowling tournaments in the country, has been canceled for the second year in a row after the Bowling Proprietors Association of America failed to find sponsors. This year’s Open already had been scratched—now, the 2015 Open also has fallen victim to the lack of sponsorship.
The BPAA says it costs about a half million dollars to put on the Open, money that they have not been able to raise. They say it’s because advertisers like to reach the 18 to 35 year old crowd, a crowd sponsors don’t think they can reach at the lanes. But those advertisers may be victim to stereotypes.
A 2012 Experian Simmons National Consumer Survey found that more than 51 million adults ages 18 and over, and perhaps more significantly, 19 million youths aged 6 to 17, are bowling, and 2012 was the fifth straight year that participation in bowling grew.
Here are some more facts from that Experian survey: The average income of a bowling household is nearly $68,000 a year, more than 46% of those households had incomes of $75,000 a year or more, and almost 32% of them had household incomes of more than $100,000. What advertiser WOULDN’T want that demographic?
You want younger demos? High school bowling is one of the fastest growing high school sports in the country, with more than 5,000 schools offering bowling programs with more than 50,000 participating in 47 states. Collegiate bowling is growing by more than 10 percent a year, and the sport is recognized at the NCAA, NJCAA and NAIA levels.
The lesson? Do your research. Do your homework when looking for sponsors to match up with your events. Presenting potential sponsors with facts and figures for their target audience may help save—and even grow—your home town events.
The 118th running of the Boston Marathon was marked with, of course, great emotion and even larger crowds, both running and spectating. It also had its share of celebrity, as the famous, the almost famous and wanna-be-famous looked to showed their support for the event and, usually, run for a good cause.
Among the glitterati: Former New England Patriot Teddy Bruschi; NBC Today Show news anchor Natalie Morales; Jim Wahlberg, brother of Boston stalwarts (and singer/actors) Mark and Donnie Wahlberg; Donnie’s New Kids on the Block compatriot Joey McIntyre and many others.
Of course, when you have a celebrity connected to your event, you are expecting a measure of publicity surrounding that celebrity. Note the Red Carpet treatment at the Kentucky Derby, from the famous Barnstable Brown Pre-Derby party (this year’s guest list includes Kings of Leon, Miranda Lambert, Ann and Nancy Wilson, Boy Band alum Joey Fatone and Mary Wilson from the Supremes) to the big screen celeb introductions at the Derby itself.
So, you say what does Joey Fatone have to do with my local 3-on-3 basketball tournament? Well, more than you might think. Let’s go with the premise that celebrities draw coverage. Every area has a morning news show host or a wacky weatherman or traffic reporter who often is sent out into the community for feature opportunities. Say, you have the wacky weatherman go one on one with one of your basketball athletes-the younger the better-and your athlete scores a basket faster than you can spell H-O-R-S-E.
That’s great TV. And, you get publicity for your event, publicity that you could never get just sending out a news release on the event. Remember, there’s lots of time to fill on local morning news shows these days, and if you can offer something different and entertaining for the morning show to cover, a camera will follow.
That’s another reason that media days before an event (think golf) are a big hit. The sports anchor and a camera person (sometimes they’re one and the same) get a nice lunch at a nice golf course, do an interview with the defending champion, then stick around for a few holes of golf at a course they wouldn’t be able to play otherwise. You get publicity for your event, for the cost of lunch.
So don’t hesitate to celebritize your event, from a publicity stunt to honorary coaches from the local radio/TV stations, to having the local sports anchor emcee your awards dinner or closing ceremonies. From the Boston Marathon to 3-on-3 basketball, it works.