What They Don't Tell You About Working With A Sports Star…

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Federer, Messi, Biles; they’re a different kettle of fish compared to your everyday influencer project. Due to other commitments and contracts, sports stars may have you jumping through a few unexpected hoops. But, it’s worth it.

Athletes come pre-packaged with a loyal community of fans and teammates, and your results will show that. According to Opendorse, branded Instagram content posted by sports stars drive 4.8x the engagement of media accounts, and 2.1x the engagement of influencer accounts. These stats alone should have you saying F*CK ME WHERE DO I SIGN?

But, if you’re not yet — keep reading.

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BEEN THERE, DONE THAT

For a recent eBay brief, we were tasked to create a positive impact within the footballing community. Our idea? Auction goal scoring legends as one-time team members for a local Saturday or Sunday league team. All donations went to Football Beyond Borders.

So, we spoke to our Influencer Manager Reece on the whys of this campaign:

“The #DreamTransfer campaign allowed Roberto Carlos, Eniola Aluko, and Chris Kamara to pump money back into grassroots football. This is one of many examples of top athletes using their wider reach and brand contacts to help those in need, instead of profiting for personal gain.”

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HUMAN IMPACT

Evidently, leveraging popularity and engagement for charity is one way sports stars can inject a positive impact into marketing. Raheem Sterling showed how it was done last year; he announced his two fully funded initiatives alongside mental health app, Headspace and mentoring scheme, The Promise Foundation.

Likewise, Arsenal and Adidas also clubbed together in their campaign, No More Red, to stand up against knife crime. This saw the players wear a full-white kit for the first time ever in their home game against Nottingham Forest. Even just the visuals were enough to grab people’s attention, sparking positive PR and good ol’ word of mouth coverage, both on and offline.

SPORTS STARS CAN DO IT ALL

Compared to influencers who usually have a cult following across one main (maybe two) platforms, sports stars are stars everywhere — no matter the dimensions. Sure, IG and TikTok campaigns can pop off, but stars have even whipped up Twitter storms. Remember Rashford’s #MakeTheUTurn? Or Mason Mount’s episode of ‘wok from home’, Wagamama’s YouTube creator series? As this suggests, not necessarily about the platform, it’s not even really about the brand, it’s about the person.

WITH HIGH RISK…

If it was easy everyone would do it, right? Compared to traditional influencer marketing, partnering with household names opens the doors to different contractual obligations that might affect your campaign. To start with, influencers usually produce their own social posts and, while these ballers might be great on the pitch, they‘re less attuned to capturing content. As a result, you must be more agile with shoot dates, and be ready to provide a full production suite at the drop of a ball.

Plus, athletes won’t post content on the day of a game or during a tournament, and they won’t post on the day following a defeat. Therefore, due to the volatile nature of sport, this can make it hard to set delivery dates in stone, especially as even retired athletes hold loyalties to their prior clubs.

Likewise, another biggie was at the 2005 Snookers Masters; HP Sauce partnered with Jimmy “The Whirlwind” White, tasking him with legally change his name to Jimmy Brown and switch out his iconic black waistcoat for a brown one. Like that wasn’t enough, they’d sponsored the brown ball, so it rolled around wearing the HP logo.

This highlights the importance of getting it right. Could HP have sponsored Peter Ebdon? Well, yes… But, it wouldn’t have worked. Wiring campaign ideas that fit perfectly with the personality of the celebrity is a massive reason why it does work. If you’re game to get a sports star collab right, get in touch at info@seenconnects.com.

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