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Is Commercialization Really All That Bad?
By: Sarah Jane Dunaway
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Last night the city of Baltimore embraced the colors of purple and black in celebration of the Baltimore Ravens preseason football game against the Carolina Panthers. The city was ready to rumble and the stadium crowd was bursting with energy.

As football season rolls into town the question arises — has the world of professional sports become too commercialized? It’s safe to say that yes, everything has become too commercialized, from mothers who blog about motherhood to cancer prevention organizations.

I like to think that the problem isn’t as simple as blaming advertisers or an individual company. The problem is opportunity. America is all about opportunity. Opportunity cost, opportunity to make a buck, and the opportunity to make a difference in the world.

My father always complains that even the United States Naval Academy football games have become too commercialized. To some degree he is right. Every aspect of every element is sponsored by this or that company. It’s no longer halftime but X-Company Halftime featuring the official Y-Company Halftime Show.

Last night at the Ravens football game I looked around at all the glorious advertising spaces. The stadium features a digital display space at the bottom of  the balcony seats that wraps around the entire stadium. The display caught my attention each time the artwork rotated with a new advertiser. This space used to be filled by just a concrete gap between seat levels, but now it contains space for bright, colorful ads with motion — a little fantastic, really.

It’s difficult to be in this profession and not see life as an opportunity to advertise. Media placement is essentially our puzzle and we’re constantly looking at how brands can reach new audiences in new ways.

There’s a fine line between bombarding audiences and striving to say something in a whole new way. Yes, professional sports have definitely become over commercialized, but until people stop watching sports we really can’t abandon those audiences. However, maybe the commercialization of sports isn’t really all that bad — besides, the Super Bowl is the one time I’m guaranteed to pay attention to the TV and it has nothing to do with the football game.


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About the Author

Sarah Jane Dunaway is a brand strategist and design consultant, and the writer and creator behind the blog Clean & Proper. A former member of the paper and printing industry, Sarah Jane specializes in helping businesses of all sizes streamline marketing communications by creating compelling brand identity systems and corporate identity packages. Find her online here

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