Three Key Questions When Choosing an Athlete to Sponsor

The sports industry is among the highest profile in the world, with the top athletes being some of the top paid and most followed celebrities. It only makes sense that these athletes are among the top choices for athlete sponsorship deals.

But before choosing an athlete to sponsor, companies should ask themselves these three questions.

1. Does the athlete fit your brand?

Brand fit is the most important question. When evaluating athlete endorsements, your options must align with the brand message you are trying to send your audience.

An example of a lack of brand fit is Ray Lewis. One of the greatest linebackers in NFL history, Lewis was notorious for his bone-crushing hits, aggressiveness, and undying intensity, which made his decision to promote a knockoff Snuggie even more baffling.

There’s no denying Ray Lewis is one of the best football players of all time, but even that can’t fix the significant disconnect between this and this. These feel like two completely different people, and the mixed message doesn’t help promote the brand effectively.

2. How long will the athlete be relevant?

Most professional athletes have a short time on stage. For example, the average career length in the NFL is 3.3 years. Also, new sensational athletes, scandals, and injuries can push even the most gifted out of the spotlight. Take Lance Armstrong, for example. His fall from grace not only cost him, but it cost Livestrong, his foundation. The organization’s number of donations, people helped, wristbands distributed, and employees all plummeted.

Having an athlete endorse your product/service can be a great asset to any company. But they lose their value if that athlete is no longer recognizable or out of the news.

3. Will the athlete sponsorship extend the brand’s reach?

When outlining communication objectives, consider the message reach of the athlete. Brands want as many people as possible to get their message. Athletes make up some of the most well-known celebrities in the world. Reach is why Cristiano Ronaldo, who has over 300 million followers across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, earned his sponsors almost $1 billion in media value in one year. It’s why he, like LeBron James, has a lifetime contract with Nike worth $1 billion. Several years ago, the total earned value of Ronaldo’s social media messages topped $175 million.

Few athletes have a social media following as huge as Ronaldo’s. However, a brand should consider how much an athlete’s audience can extend the brand’s overall marketing reach. This extension, or lack thereof, creates value for a brand in athlete sponsorship.

Final Thoughts

Athlete sponsorship can be an effective marketing tool. When a brand chooses the right partner, the partnership can boost sales. If a brand ensures brand fit, athlete relevance, and audience reach, it is well on its way to a successful campaign.

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