Cryptic as that may sound I am referring to a report in the New York times about a new venture, WePlay.com, which is creating a social networking site for youth sports which is expected to start in mid-April. It is aspiring to be like Facebook for youth athletes, parents and coaches — a vast audience. The value proposition or soft sell of WePlay.com is that young athletes will be able to set up a profile, post pictures, communicate with friends and share videos of games. Of course the coaches and parents are included. Coaches will able to communicate with their players and parents and parents will be able to get practice schedules, coordinate car pools and find out which equipment to purchase.
Youth sports are huge. It involves parents a huge audience and the 52 million children who participated in organized children’s sports leagues. (National Council of Youth Sports.) It’s a massive audience into which to project brands and products- but is it right?
Remember that Madison Avenue has for eons used professional sports teams as a way to promote and market brands products and services. What followed was the push to sell brands and services to the college level and then high schools with Takkle, a social-networking site for high school athletes which are partially owned by Sports Illustrated.
Now with the “WePlay” model , Madison Avenue and advertisers will have the chance to present brands and products to even younger and younger audiences.
An that is not the end of it. Potentially as Rick Heitzmann, managing director at Pequot Ventures, the venture arm of Pequot Capital Management has been reported to say “There’s no reason to believe that the organizing principles that are applied here (WePlay.com) to sports can’t be applied elsewhere, such as to religious organizations,”
Everything is going commercial Play and Prey. Is that a good thing???????
My vote is no.
Managing Risk for Children – a British view