According to a recent article in PR Week, athletes can bring connection and inspiration to endorsements that companies/products may not be able to get with other individual endorsements.
“Athletes inspire us, so when we develop our plans to communicate to consumers, we work with them to tell stories and to connect with consumers,” says Derek Kent, US media relations director at Nike.
In addition, companies can no longer just select the league MVP for their endorsements. It’s more important to take the time evaluating how an individual’s personality and style of play fits the brand. Companies like Nike even use athletes’ ideas and insights when creating or improving a product, which can make an endorsement by that athlete even more effective.
“It’s important to know your brand and what the target audience is, and which big-name athlete will hit that demographic,” says Phil Crimaldi, VP at DKC, which has worked with brands like New Era and athletes including Tom Brady. “[Companies pick an athlete] not just because of who they are on the floor or on the field, but who they are and what they stand for.”
The article also suggests that athletes are more open to working with interactive elements including online chats or viral videos (ex. Tiger Woods’ EA Sports walk on water video clip) because athletes want to expand their own brand and realize the benefit of good PR.
Despite all the benefits that come with athlete endorsements, companies have been slow to turn to 2008 Olympic stars for product endorsements and appearances due to the poor economy according to Sports Business Journal. In some instances, the athletes have made endorsement deals but the company wants to hold off on the announcement until the economic outlook improves. However, the current economic situation has made most companies cautious about large investments so I wouldn’t say that is just indicative of athlete endorsements, rather the economy as a whole.