Tag Archives: celebrity endorsements

College Athletes Can Now Make Money

It’s been a long time coming, but finally college athletes can make money! A new NCAA policy allows student athletes to earn compensation by marketing their name, image, or likeness (NIL). This is a big shift in policy from the NCAA which has long banned college athletes from receiving any compensation other than tuition.

The new NIL rule will let student athletes earn income from licensing merchandise, podcasting, offering lessons, promoting brands, opening businesses, and other deals. In addition, student athletes can use their personal brands to earn money. Many athletes have a strong social media presence that can be leveraged into marketing brands and products.

On July 1st, hundreds of student athletes announced deals for NIL.  Big winners right away were sisters Hanna and Haley Cavinder, basketball players at Fresno State who are now spokespersons for Boost Mobile. Auburn football players Bo Nix and Shaun Shivers also announced partnership deals (with Milo’s Tea and Yoke respectively).

Some athletes will be paid for appearances, others will endorse products for payments, and still others are launching merchandise lines. The deals are not necessarily tied to sports. Athletes are now able to earn income from gigs as musicians, designers, and artists also.

It’s important to note that of the hundreds of thousands of college athletes, many will not benefit from the NIL policy. Athletes still cannot be paid directly by colleges beyond their attendance costs, nor are athletes to be considered employees of the colleges. But the opportunities are now there and will certainly influence sports and business.

The times are indeed changing.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: What is their opinion on the new NCAA policy that allow student athletes to profit off their name, image, and likeness?
  2. What are the positives and negatives for the policy?
  3. How will this policy impact marketing activities?
  4. Show video about the college athlete pay debate: https://youtu.be/q8dtMX_wXNY
  5. Show Open Sponsorship website: https://opensponsorship.com/
  6. Divide students into teams. Have each team develop ideas on how businesses could use college athletes in their marketing.

Source:  Ad Week; Assoc. Press; CNBC; NBC Sports; New York Times; other news sources

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Victoria’s Secret Updates Brand Personality

Branding is a critical thing – while usually a strong marketing point, it can also be used to defeat you. Think about brands that need to be revised, even if they have a strong position.

Let’s try it. What is the first brand that comes to mind for the phrase “sexy women’s lingerie?” Go ahead, think. I’ll wait. (Yeah, right, I don’t need to wait more than a brief second.) You said “Victoria’s Secret,” right?

Now, picture the Victoria’s Secret’s advertisements and images. The images focus on bodies that would be at home in Playboy magazine; bodies encased in wings, feathers, bangles, and sparkles.  Sexy supermodels. Remember the Victoria’s Secret Angels and TV fashion show? Certainly glitzy and entertaining, but not really an honest portrait for or of the average woman, and certainly not an image that connotes strong, fearless, women and their accomplishments.

The brand has recognized that it needs a refresh for today’s culture, and to that end has garnered representation from female trailblazers and icons including: Megan Rapinoe (soccer), Eileen Gu (Chinese American skier), Paloma Elsesser (biracial model and size 14), and Priyanka Chopra Jonas (Indian actor and tech investor), Valentina Sampaio (Brazilian trans model), Adut Akech (South Sudanese refugee and model), and Amanda de Cadenet (photographer).  Not a supermodel in the bunch.

Victoria’s Secret new approach is to become a leading global “advocate” for female empowerment, focusing on women’s reality rather than male fantasy images. The stakes are high. With a market share of 21%, revenue of more than $7 billion, 1,400 stores, and 32,000 retail jobs the company has a lot on the line. Critics decry the company’s links to a misogynistic culture that honored sexism, sizeism, and ageism.

Looks like rebranding can be a good thing.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: What brand comes to mind when you say “sexy female lingerie?”
  2. What images come to mind for Victoria’s Secret? What do the models look like? What is the focus of the advertising?
  3. Does this focus reflect today’s female culture?
  4. What do students think could be done to bring Victoria’s Secret branding to a more relevant place?
  5. Show a recent video: https://youtu.be/Pe3Nob7QM28
  6. Show the website: https://www.victoriassecret.com/us/
  7. What brands compete with Victoria’s Secret?
  8. What is their positioning?

Source:  New York Times; other news sources

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Naomi Osaka and Celebrity Endorsements

There is no doubt that celebrities make powerful brand ambassadors. In particular, professional athletes command a great deal of attention in the media and with consumers.  People tend to idolize these athletes and emulate them to the extent of buying products from the brands that they endorse (hey, if I thought Naomi Osaka’s brand of racquet would help my tennis game – I’d buy it!). The problem is that if an athlete fails to keep public goodwill, the brands might falter. Therefore, there are behavior contracts that guide and govern athletes with respect to brands.

One professional athlete recently in the news is Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka. At the French Open, Osaka won her match but declined to take part in a mandatory post-match news conference, thereby incurring an automatic $15,000 fine. Fines for athletes are not uncommon. At most major sports events players are contractually obligated to face the press following play. Osaka declined to meet with press and stated that she was willing to pay any fines. She cited caring for her mental health and depression as her reasons for not holding press conferences, stating that she “often felt that people have no regard for athletes’ mental health.”

But, the Roland-Garros tournament officials took it a step further than a fine and threatened Osaka with increased penalties plus possible suspension from tennis if she failed to comply. Osaka subsequently withdrew from the tournament.

Osaka’s celebrity status has served her well in tennis. She has more than 2.2 million Twitter followers, and has earned more than $60 million in prize money and endorsements, including brands Nike, Nissan, GoDaddy, Levi’s, and more. She is a four-time Grand Slam singles champion and the highest-paid female athlete ever. Osaka is also an activist who has taken high-profile stands on BLM and other causes. All of these factors make her a valuable endorser to brands.

Among the questions following Osaka’s withdrawal are how to respect and support athletes’ mental wellness, and how should brands respond? (To date, all of Osaka’s sponsors are staying with her.)

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the communication process: sender, encoding, message, media, decoding, and receiver.
  2. Discuss the importance of celebrities in brand endorsements.
  3. Poll students: How are purchases influenced by athletes and celebrities?
  4. What is their opinion of Naomi Osaka’s move at the French Open?
  5. What are brands responsibilities to endorsers? To consumers?
  6. Have students list all of the celebrities/brands pairings they can remember.
  7. What makes these pairings successful? Unsuccessful?
  8. Divide students into team. Have each team select a product or brand and then find a celebrity who could successfully endorse the brand.
  9. Debrief: Poll students about their opinions about the suggested pairings. Why were the celebrities selected?

Source: CNBC; New York Times; Wall Street Journal; other news sources

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