Athletes as Endorsers

Athletes as celebrity endorsers play a major role in marketing and building brand awareness around the globe. An individual celebrity who endorses a product can often be seen as an effective spokesperson and help to generate awareness and sales for products. In fact, sports sponsorship is a $60 billion industry globally and includes endorsements for sportswear, beverages, technology, and more.

According to Forbes magazine, four top athletes – Roger Federer, LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and Kevin Durant – earn more from endorsements than from their sports winnings! But, great as these athletes are, a younger generation of athletes under 25 years old are on their way up, and brands are on the lookout.

To help determine an athlete’s marketability, Nielsen Sports researches social media data to arrive at an “Athlete Influencer Score” comprised of evaluating an athlete’s relevance, reach, return, and resonance. It incorporates factors such as social following, fanbase growth, and media value. The company’s report includes this year’s 50 most marketable, young athletes.

Among the top pro contenders are:

  • Kylian Mbappe, age 20, France, soccer
  • Simone Biles, age 22, U.S., gymnast
  • Patrick Mahomes, age 23, U.S., football
  • Naomi Osaka, age 21, Japan, tennis
  • Rose LaVelle, age 24, U.S., soccer

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. There are many ways for brands and their athlete partners to reach fans. In particular, social media platforms are very effective in speaking directly to fans and can provide meaningful communications.

Which athlete do you trust?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the communication process: sender, encoding, message, medium, decoding, and receiver.
  2. What role do celebrity endorsements play in the communications and marketing roles?
  3. What features make an athlete an effective spokesperson for a product or brand?
  4. Link to report from Nielsen Sport: (must register on Nielsen) https://nielsensports.com/50-most-marketable-athletes/
  5. More information: http://nielsensports.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/nielsen-power-of-one-athletes-as-endorsers.pdf
  6. Divide students into teams. Have each team identify 10 different athletes that they have seen endorse products.
  7. Are these successful, or unsuccessful, spokespeople?
  8. Finally, select a number of industries or products and have students discuss which athletes best fit the product.

Source:  Forbes; Nielsen Research

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