Three key questions when choosing an athlete to sponsor

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

But before selecting which athlete, companies should ask themselves these three questions.


  1. Does the athlete fit your brand?

    The first question to ask is perhaps the most important.

    When evaluating athlete endorsement options, it is crucial that these options are in line with the message you are trying to send your audience. A prime example of this is Ray Lewis. One of the greatest linebackers in NFL history, Lewis was notorious for his bone-crushing hits, aggressiveness and undying intensity, which makes the 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?

    The world of sports moves faster than most and there are no guarantees about career length. New 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 if that athlete is no longer recognizable or out of the news, they lose their value.  
  3. How far does their reach extend?

    When outlining communication objectives, reach is one of the key factors to consider.

    Brands want as many people as possible to get their message, and athletes make up some of the most well-known celebrities in the world. Reach is the reason that 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 the reason he, like LeBron James, has a lifetime contract with Nike worth $1 billion. In a two-day span, Tag Heuer had Ronaldo post 6 times about them. Those posts accumulated 2.4 million “likes” and were seen by 35 million people, which is valued at approximately $380,000.

    When identifying potential athletes to endorse your product, you need to assess their following to see if the partnership is worth it. The biggest reason to sponsor athletes is to tap into their following and expand your brand through them.

Answering these questions is a great start to the endorsement process, but there are many other factors to consider.

To learn more about endorsements, read our guide: Six Essentials to Endorsements for Brands. 

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