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 such as Tiger Wood, Lance Armstrong, Michael Vick, etc.
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 she or he needs to be likeable, influential, and stylish, savvy on social media, and have a strong public following. Not an easy feat to achieve when the athlete does not always have a home court advantage.
The following is the list of the top marketable athletes in the U.S. in 2017, topped by two strong female athletes:
- Serena Williams (N-Score 83) – for winning the Australian Open while pregnant. Her N-Score of 83 topped all pro athletes, even after taking maternity leave and not competing for the remainder of 2017.
- Venus Williams (N-Score 79) – landed the number two position thanks to a great comeback tennis season with top results at the Australian Open and Wimbledon.
- LeBron James (N-Score 76) – not a stranger to the top list as he led the Cleveland Cavaliers to their third straight NBA Final.
- Eli Manning (N-Score 76) – for his two-time Super Bowl MVP.
- Tom Brady (N-Score 75) – a four-time Super Bowl MVP.
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:
- Show the Nielsen rating article: http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2017/tops-of-2017-pro-athlete-marketability.html
- 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