Athletes and sports events play a major role in marketing. An individual celebrity who endorses a product can often be seen as an effective spokesperson. But not always… Think back on athletes who have been dropped as spokespeople after a fall from grace (Tiger Wood, Lance Armstrong…).
What does it take to make the public view an athlete as a positive role-model, and when do companies employ these people? According to Nielsen Research’s N-Score Talent Tracker, in order for a celebrity to be marketable he or she needs to be likeable, influential, stylish, savvy on social media, and have a strong public following. Not an easy feat to achieve when the athlete is not on their home court.
The following is the list of the top marketable athletes in the U.S. in 2016:
- Peyton Manning – for his Super Bowl 50 victory.
- Michael Phelps – for his record-breaking Rio 2016 Summer Olympics.
- Simone Biles – the world’s top gymnast in the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics.
- Serena Williams – an enduring tennis great and the highest paid female athlete in the world.
- LeBron James – who brought Cleveland its first NBA Championship in 2016.
It’s not always easy for any celebrity to become an effective brand ambassador. The celebrity’s built-in fan base usually comes with specific consumer behaviors and purchases.
Who is your preferred athlete to be a brand spokesperson?
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
- Discuss the communication process: sender, encoding, message, medium, decoding, and receiver.
- What role do celebrity endorsements play in the communications and marketing roles?
- What features make an athlete an effective spokesperson for a product or brand?
- Divide students into teams. Have each team identify 10 different athletes that they have seen endorse products.
- Are these successful, or unsuccessful, spokespeople?
- Finally, select a number of industries or products and have students discuss which athletes best fit the product.
Source: Nielsen Research