Sports teams and their players have the unique ability to inspire, motivate and challenge us, and we often find ourselves rooting for these teams regardless of their successes.
The NFL is one of the most highly profitable leagues in the world, with fans showcasing their dedication to their teams through merchandise and a year-long commitment to media coverage that features their team.
Making the teams themselves into a revenue source changed the game, and the Dallas Cowboys were the first to do it back in 1995.
“Jones took the NFL to court in 1995 over the league’s rules that limited a team’s ability to strike its own endorsement deals. Looking to capitalize on the Cowboys’ iconic brand, Jones negotiated stadium sponsorships with Pepsi, Nike and American Express. The NFL sued Jones, contending that those deals ran afoul of the league-wide own sponsorship arrangements. Jones responded with his own antitrust lawsuit against the league, arguing that the NFL was effectively running a cartel that controlled the teams’ logos and trademarks.
The two sides settled, which allowed Jones – and every other league owner – to enter into their own sponsorship agreements.
“He changed the economics of the league in terms of what teams could do,” Badenhausen said. “He went out and sold the Cowboys on the sponsorship market harder than anybody else. As a result, because they have the brand to back it up, he’s been able to monetize.”
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The Cowboys went from a sports team into a fully formed brand, and the rest of the league soon followed suit.
Having solid brand awareness and thinking outside of the box is critical towards the success of any business, and the NFL capitalized on this idea and continues to generate revenue daily through these methods.