5 of the Best Sports Marketing Campaigns of All Time

Do you ever wonder what the building blocks to a great marketing campaign are? Is it the brilliant use of research to develop demographics and psychographics that are most commonly found through a brands target market? Is it the thousands of surveys, and constant use of focus groups, expert testimonials, a various other data collection and analytics methods? Maybe it’s just simply the ‘Hollywood’ approach, where a famous face and a few laughs build a brand in the eyes of the consumer?

My answer to you, is all of the above. Ad. Campaigns, especially ones that leave us as the consumer with a new admiration for a brand, are so critical to lasting impressions of a company. The really good ones that we re-visit on YouTube and share on Facebook for months, or even years, after can generate millions in revenue. Concurrently Ad. Campaigns that fail can re-design a company’s entire image, leaving a public relations proverbial trail of tears for years to come.

Some ads are brilliant, many fall flat on their face-we all remember the depressing Nationwide commercial  featured in Super Bowl XLIX that starred a deceased child. Regardless of the success rate, good or bad, ads on both ends of the spectrum had one thing in common: they all sparked debate throughout our nation. Here’s my list of some of the best campaigns of all time.

 5. Nationwide Jingle featuring Peyton Manning

My list begins with the aforementioned company Nationwide, even though their ad in Super XLIX is regarded by many as the worst Super Bowl commercial of all time, it was not irreparable towards Nationwide’s reputation.

The continuing success of one of the most popular jingles has been matched with NFL great Peyton Manning to consummate a wonderful relationship of wit and personable marketing that has overcome the disastrous outcome Super Bowl XLIX.

To Nationwide’s credit, they recognized the immediate success of this campaign and quickly made it one of their marketing focuses. Expanding the campaign past commercial and into on-site sponsorships distributing nearly 40,000 “chicken parm you taste so good” t-shirts to eager Denver Broncos fans at a recent home game.

Proving that effective marketing strategies can transform from a campaign directed at one sector, but if an opportunity arises can be transformed into various other formats. In Nationwide’s case they can even be transformed into one of the company’s single most effective promotions ever.

Nationwide Jingle featuring Peyton Manning

 4. Oreos: Dunk in the Dark

Many of you may think that a fatty creamed-filled cookie has no business being in a list of sports marketing campaigns, and you may very well be right. However, the reason that Oreo is on this list is because of one of the most illustrious moves in marketing history.

Strategies in marketing are ever-changing and as a marketing professional it is quintessential that one is able to adapt and see trends before the average person can. The revolution of technology and the implementation of social media into our culture has made this skill ever so important. Marketers can now reach their market in a matter of seconds, meaning that real-time marketing has become one of the most widely used and hardest to master strategies utilized by all marketers across the globe.

Oreo took this challenge head on in 2014 when the lights at Super Bowl XLVII mysteriously shut off. While 99% of viewers were wondering what had happened, Oreo decided to make the best of the situation by releasing their dunk in the dark advertisement across social media platforms within a matter of minutes.

This brilliant marketing ploy, and effective real time application is why Oreo makes my list, and further proves that strategy and position make a world of difference in promotion. A quick decision and a few words across several platforms that turned into a revenue generating super campaign.


3. Under Armour: Protect This House

For year’s athletic apparel manufacturer and distributor Under Armour was always considered a second-tier company behind the likes of Nike and Adidas. This thought process changed when Under Armour released its ‘Protect this House’ ad campaign over a decade ago.

The campaign that was directed mainly towards the gridiron and its football division took off so fast that many will make the argument that the company has become an industry leader, if not at the very least on par with the top apparel companies in the world.

This campaign has gone on to cornerstone the numerous other successful campaigns developed over in Maryland by the brilliant marketing team at Under Armour. For a company that was designed to protect the athlete that sweats a little too much, it only goes to show how effective the right marketing strategies can be, bringing Under Armour to the forefront of the fastest growing sector in the apparel industry.

Under Armour: Protect This House

2. Nike/Jordan Brand: RE2PECT

The perfect combination of paying homage to a sports legends while still branding a company’s image come in the form of Nike’s RE2PECT campaign. The campaign which debuted 2014, featured the Jordan Brand sponsored MLB legend Derek Jeter in some of the final at bats of his career with fans all across the country ‘tipping their hats to the captain. A video that proved no matter who your team is, everyone respects an individual that is widely considered as the archetype of their sport.

Much like the Dunk in the Dark campaign, RE2PECT was an omnichannel marketing sensation. Reaching over 50 million views on YouTube and countless others through television and various other social media shares.

The campaign may have only been one video, but the class and “respect” that was shown through Nike and the Jordan brand, is what leaves me tipping my hat to Nike with the number two spot on my list.

Nike/Jordan Brand: RE2PECT

1.Bo Knows

The top spot on my list goes to one of the greatest campaigns in marketing history, sports or otherwise. In a time where the technology did not play a major role in promoting, and marketing was done the good ole’ fashion way a struggling company released a campaign that would sky rocket them past every other apparel company in existence.

Before “Just do it” Nike was a company that was battling Reebok for superiority in the shoe sector of the apparel industry. Thus “Bo-Knows” was born, taking advantage of the multi-sport superstar Bo Jackson. Featuring him in a commercial participating in over 15 different sports featuring the diversity of their products. “Bo-Knows football, Bo-Knows baseball, Bo-Knows shoes”.

This led many to attest to the superior athleticism of Bo making him the perfect endorser for Nike’s cross-training footwear. In a matter of months Nike surpassed Reebok claiming nearly 80% of the shoe market share across cross-training shoes, and their overall brand image sky-rocketed, making it one of the fastest growing and most successful campaigns in history.

Bo Knows

If you have any memorable moments that these promotions brought you, please feel free to share them in the comments. If you believe that there is any campaigns that I may have snubbed Add a comment and persuade me!


Author: nicksawyerblog

Born in Denver, Colorado, currently reside in Greeley Colorado. I attended Wheat Ridge High School from 2009 to 2013. Aspiring marketing professional attending the University of Northern Colorado. I have developed a career focus in Sports Marketing. Which will allow me to further pursue my dreams of working in a sports related field. I believe firmly in following my passions, which include health and wellness, sports, marketing and other various aspects of the business world. As a young professional I have developed attributes in managing teams, leadership, establishing small B2B corporate relationships and certain forms of content marketing. I am always open to facing new challenges and implore exceptional coach-ability in all fields that are asked of me. I know that I am still young and have much to learn about the business world. I look forward in advancing all of my skills as I further pursue my goals of marketing, especially in the professional athletics industry. My top strength is my always burning desire to continue to lean all that I can about business so that I will be able to excel in any field that is asked of me. I work great in both individual as well as team oriented settings. I am extremely excited about graduating with a degree in business marketing and continuing to pursue opportunities that I am passionate about that will also allow me to make a difference in the surrounding community.

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