Top Marketable Athletes of 2017

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. LeBron James (N-Score 76) – not a stranger to the top list as he led the Cleveland Cavaliers to their third straight NBA Final.
  4. Eli Manning (N-Score 76) – for his two-time Super Bowl MVP.
  5. 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:

  1. Show the Nielsen rating article:
  2. Discuss the communication process: sender, encoding, message, medium, decoding, and receiver.
  3. What role do celebrity endorsements play in the communications and marketing roles?
  4. What features make an athlete an effective spokesperson for a product or brand?
  5. Divide students into teams. Have each team identify 10 different athletes that they have seen endorse products.
  6. Are these successful, or unsuccessful, spokespeople?
  7. Finally, select a number of industries or products and have students discuss which athletes best fit the product.

Source:  Nielsen Research

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