Introduction

Sports Marketing is becoming increasingly popular among brands and has been on the rise since the globalisation of sport in the 1990s. Sports Marketing offers brands a set of opportunities that is unique to other forms of marketing.

Through sport,

  1. Brands can target a vast array of groups – Every sport, team and athlete has its own sets of fans and viewers.
  2. Brands can leverage fans’ passion and transfer this passion onto their brand – Seeing a brand beside their team/ athlete creates positive associations and the possibility of brand loyalty.
  3. The digital age is expanding the horizons of Sports Marketing – Social Media is a powerful channel for brands to target audiences and brands can extract value from all athletes. Social Media has opened the door for Athlete Marketing to grow exponentially!
  4. Many sports have a unique audience – For example, Soccer in the US is booming and its audience is unique from other US-based sports. Soccer is now a mainstream sport in the US, with the popularity of the MLS and European Leagues on the rise. Soccer is growing alongside the growing Hispanic population in the US. In 2020, Hispanics accounted for 4.65 million MLS fans. 30% of this number are US-born. Soccer is growing in popularity in the US whilst American football’s popularity is decreasing. 55% of sports fans in their teens say they have an interest in soccer and the majority of US soccer fans watch the sport in Spanish. These fans are exclusively soccer fans showing little to no interest in other US sports.

Create Real connections!

Today’s consumers demand authentic links between brands and athletes. Brands can no longer simply piggyback on an athlete/team’s success and expect results. Consumers easily identify brands poorly attempting to take advantage of a specific event related to a team or athlete. More importantly, such attempts detract brand value. Consumers want to see brands working with athletes and teams who share real values and connections. Consumers value partnerships with a shared connection over performance-based partnerships. Consumers value partnerships with an authentic connection. Brands can leverage an athlete’s public perception or get creative by exploring the interests/hobbies of an athlete beyond their sport.

ROS Nutrition Logo

Here is a case study, on a brand that we partner with, on the benefits of creating a real connection with Elite Athletes. ROS Nutrition a budding Irish Nutrition company were looking to associate with Elite Athletes to gain brand awareness and exposure in the Irish and UK markets. They created a campaign on the Sport Endorse platform that would support the nutritional needs of Ireland’s top athletes across a range of sports. The brands received 100’s of applicants and selected 14 ambassadors out of this. These athlete ambassadors were offered an agreement in return for creating branded and engaging content for companies distribution on offline and online channels. Throughout this process, ROS nurtured a one-to-one relationship with the athletes and met their personal nutrition needs properly. This ultimately transpired into athletes turning into authentic advocates for the ROS Nutrition brand and for the company to successfully meet its campaign objectives.

Kate Doherty poses with ROS Nutrition product

Check out our blog ‘Elite Sport is set to bounce back in 2021’ and learn why 2021 is the perfect year to kickstart your brand’s Sports Marketing Journey!

Build long lasting relationships with athletes!

A brand’s ability to build a long term relationship with an athlete is crucial for a number of reasons. Consumers value brands showing commitment to an athlete’s cause whether it be within or beyond their sport. Secondly, over time brands will benefit from the positive association fans make between a brand and the team/athlete.

For example, there are multiple athletes who are synonymous with brands. Rory McIlroy originally signed with Nike to wear their golf apparel on tour in 2013. Since then, the athlete-brand partnership has been a massive success. In 2017, Nike offered the Irish Golfer a $100 million extension on top of his original contract worth $200 million. Rory’s reach goes well beyond golf and he is one of the most marketable athletes within global sports.

McIlroy and Nike are global brands but there are examples of such relationships in Ireland. AIB has supported the GAA on different levels continuously since 1992. When GAA fans think of brands who support the sport, AIB immediately springs to mind. The rapport between the AIB and the GAA has also enabled them to collaborate on multiple successful campaigns including the series ‘The Toughest’ and ‘Jeff and Kammy’s Journey to Croker’.

Athletes too must look to build relationships with brands. Athletes must look at every opportunity as a chance to nurture a new relationship into a long term commercial relationship. In turn, the athlete can secure a fixed sum of investment over a significant period of time allowing them the chance to commit to the sport.

Wish to learn more about Sport Endorse? Read our blog ‘Sport Endorse Co-Founders speak with the Press’ and learn more about the exciting journey we are on at Sport Endorse!

You don’t need Sports Stars to create value through Sports Marketing!

Social Media is a channel whereby athletes can promote their personal brands and express themselves on social media creating a deeper connection with fans. Many fans follow athletes due to their commitment to broader causes than just sports. Such commitments show admirable and likeable traits within athletes but also relatable beliefs/opinions as their fans. For example, Sport Endorse athletes, James Lowe works with the cause ‘Tackle Your Feelings’, and Hannah Tyrrell works with the cause ‘Pieta House’.

Social Media is making it possible for all elite athletes to get involved in Athlete Marketing. Consumers are connecting with all athletes rather than just superstars. Social Media allows fans to personally follow and support an athlete. Fans are no longer solely subjected to consuming mass media on TV, billboards or newspapers. A fan’s connection is typically very personal to them and brands that can execute an authentic relationship with an athlete can benefit from this.

Athletes can create value through social media. An athlete’s follower count is attractive but not the only core consideration. Brands must look beyond such metric to important metrics such as engagement rates. For example, some Sport Endorse athletes have relatively small followings but very impressive engagement rates. Ella Duane has a following of around 3,000 on Instagram but a very impressive engagement rate of 30%. Influencers with 5000> followers boast an average engagement rate of just under 7%. Ella’s engagement rate is nearly 5 times greater than average. Ella is an excellent choice for any brand and she delivers strongly against most budgets.

Ella Duane poses with product received through Sport Endorse

Sponsoring an athlete is a win-win relationship! Learn why the support of brands is so important in any athlete’s journey to success in our blog ‘Elite Sport presents challenges for Irish athletes’!

Conclusion

At Sport Endorse, we can help your brand with all facets of Sports Marketing. Whether you are looking for brand ambassadors to create a connection with your target audience, a panel of athletes to speak at virtual events or athletes to evaluate your products, we can help. The Sport Endorse Platform is the perfect tool for any brand looking to invest in Sports Marketing with a catalogue of exciting and willing athletes on offer. The Platform facilitates your businesses conversations with athletes in order to develop rapport and a connection. Sign up to the Platform today and discover the exciting opportunities that only working with elite athletes can deliver for your brand.