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Sports Celebrity Management

Working with celebrities is one of the most interesting and popular areas in sports marketing. Among the existing sponsors and partners of sporting events, it is difficult to name a brand that had no experience of interaction with one or another athlete. Global advertising platforms, powered by top celebrities in sports, have become textbooks for campaigns such as The Next Generation Chooses Pepsi or Just Do It by Nike.

Business risks are higher

Sports stars are distinguished from show business stars by their greater dependence on professional success or failure. If we speak from the position of the athlete himself, then in team sports it often depends not on personal successes, but on team ones. Planning an advertising campaign with a sports star is fraught with risks, since during the period of cooperation with an athlete, the brand becomes dependent on its performance. In addition to the long-standing classic risk of retirement or temporary termination of careers due to injury, lately we hear more and more about doping scandals that affect the relationship of stars with brands.

The development of social networks does not bypass the sports celebrity marketing market. It is becoming increasingly difficult to be a successful athlete and continue to lead a closed lifestyle: sports stars are watched everywhere and always, any mistake, even outside of a sports career, can knock an athlete out of the clip for a long time and deprive him of advertising income. Nevertheless, in the global market, sports celebrity marketing continues to function successfully as one of the most effective brand promotion tools in terms of emotionality, engagement and visibility.

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Multiple scandals costed Tiger Wood millions of dollars in advertising contracts

Sport star status is not enough

Being an Olympic or World Champion does not guarantee brand recognition and attractiveness. To achieve these goals, the athlete must constantly work to improve his media visibility, be charismatic, have a recognizable image and be ready for publicity. A professional athlete who walks past journalists and ignores fans at an autograph session has a ghostly chance of becoming brand attractive.

There already exist effective tools for choosing an athlete as a brand ambassador. One of these is the Celebrity Popularity Index DBI, which provides marketers with a systematic approach and includes the recognition, liking, and other attributes of celebrities that affect the purchase, behavior and lifestyle of consumers.

Consider attracting the whole team

Many brands make a choice in favor of attracting not one athlete, but a whole team or group of celebrities, linking them with a common idea or finding interesting stories of the relationship of these people within the framework of their professional activities. The choice of only one celebrity to promote a brand is fraught with certain risks if the celebrity gets into a scandalous story or falls into a doping trap.

Consider sports legends

If an advertising campaign in any case should be built on a single person, then it makes sense to turn to sports legends who are not active professional athletes. These people have already won all their trophies and simply cannot miss anymore, and the likelihood of getting into a scandalous story is much lower.

Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky starred in an advertisement
for the Swiss Breitling watches

Private label

An even more undeveloped practice is the development and promotion of his own brand by a successful athlete. Stars can use the opportunities of cooperation with large companies to promote their private label or promote their line on their own.

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Tennis star Maria Sharapova presents sweets brand Sugarpova

Recommendations for working with sports celebrities

  • At the stage of choosing an ambassador, determine whether it will be one athlete or a team of endorsers;
  • Not to be guided by the blind principle “I want” when choosing an ambassador, but to conduct research on the fit of the goals and objectives of the advertising campaign. Credibility — the chosen ambassador must have a positive attitude towards the brand and use it in everyday life;
  • If only one athlete is selected, take into account the risks of possible professional failures and be ready to situationally adapt advertising campaigns;
  • Who are you negotiating with? Determine how competent the athlete’s representative is and ensure his exclusivity. Take into account the human factor before signing the contract and be prepared for the fact that the athlete may refuse at the very last moment;
  • Clearly define the goals and objectives of the advertising campaign, terms, communication channels, the amount of shooting time, pre-define and include additional options and activations in the contract. It will be more difficult to agree later;
  • Determine in advance the schedule for the participation of celebrities in the advertising campaign, taking into account the training process and the professional activity of the athlete. It is almost impossible for an athlete to skip even a regular training session in order to participate in an advertising campaign.

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