All posts by Anthony Fernandez

Athlete Branding 101: James Harden Lands Endorsement With Trolli Candy

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Houston Rockets James Harden has recently signed on to be a brand ambassador for the Trolli Candy company. Trolli’s slogan is “Weirdly Awesome”, and due to the fact that Harden likes to take the path less traveled with a lot of things, they found this to be a great partnership to pursue. The head of brand strategy at Ferarra/Trolli Jill Manchester spoke out and said that their candy is about “celebrating uniqueness in all of us”, and the fact that they are a little offbeat too is one of the initial reasons they knew that Harden would be a great fit. Manchester also commented that Harden’s energy and overall persona is what they feel is a true representation of Trolli. Everyone on board is convinced that the basketball player is going to be a key component in pushing the brand to the next level and it should be a fun venture for everyone involved.

The Los Angeles, California native was named a McDonald’s All-American player during his high school years, and he continued with his athletic talents by attending Arizona State University where he played for two years. Harden entered the 2009 NBA Draft and was selected as the 3rd overall pick by the Oklahoma City Thunder, with whom he stayed with for three seasons before signing on with the Houston Rockets in 2012. In addition to that, he is an American Olympian and has represented the United States in the 2012 London Olympic games where he and the team brought home the gold. Harden also traveled with Team USA to the 2014 World Cup of Basketball Games in Spain where they won the gold medal as well. The four-time NBA All-Star continues to be one of the biggest names in the NBA right now and is known for his wacky, fun personality and iconic beard.

Candy lovers can expect to see Harden in Trolli advertisements in the near future, and it should give the brand the boost that they have worked so hard to achieve.

Car Brands Turn to Celebrities For Their Super Bowl Ads

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It’s been found that when a television audience sees a celebrity in a commercial, they don’t really think much of it unless that big name appears to be having a honest and genuine time with the product they are endorsing. That is what the automaker Mini believes, so they went the extra mile this year to find celebrities who have had a relationship or experience with their vehicles to help them creatively make a commercial that is due to be shown during the 50th Super Bowl coming up in just a couple of weeks.

Celebrities Into Super Bowl AdsThe strategy is a logical one, because most people like to believe that the actors and actresses in a promotional advert are honest reaction to what they’re selling. In this year’s commercial, Mini went ahead and recruited six well-known faces to be in their commercial- Abby Wambach, Serena Williams, Tony Hawk, Harvey Keitel, T-Pain, and Randy Johnson.

The 30-second clip is going to feature the six celebrities in a way that people will be excited to see them having fun with driving the Mini instead of down to business at work. The main goal of this commercial is to kick off Mini’s six month campaign that will carry the theme of “Defy Labels”, because they are certain that once a person drives one of their cars, all of those assumptions and “labels” on the small car will be completely thrown out. Currently, Minis are thought to be feminine, cute, and delicate, but after this advertisement airs, the ad agency’s chief executive officer John Butler believes it will redefine the car’s image.

During the much anticipated Super Bowl 50, be sure to keep an eye out for Wambach, Williams, Hawk, Keiten, T-Pain, and Johnson cruising in style in their Minis.

Brand Hires Celebrity Donald Faison for Super Bowl Campaign

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For the fourth year, the Pepsi beverage company is going to be returning to the Super Bowl as one of the half-time sponsors. A couple of weeks ago, the company launched a new series of online videos called “Camp Halftime” that features weekly clips of actor and comedian Donald Faison who is shown teaching counselors about how to create a halftime show perfectly. These videos were created in partnership with The Kicker–Above Average’s sports comedy site and they are being released every Wednesday leading up to the big game on both YouTube and Pepsi.com as well.

The New York City comedian has been in several media works, but is best known for his role as Dr. Chris Turk in ABC’s hit comedy-drama show Scrubs. Before hitting the hospital wing of the set, Faison has smaller roles in shows such as Sesame Street, New York Undercover, Clueless, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. In addition to that, he was in a few full length films too such as Disney’s Remember the Titans, Glory, Juice, Waiting to Exhale and New Jersey Drive. In both 2002 and 2004, Faison won BET’s Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series awards and was nominated several times for the Teens Choice Awards under the category of Choice TV Sidekick. These days he is working on a few additional projects and raising the six kids that he has at home.

Be sure to look out for Donald Faison in this year’s Super Bowl commercials, and check out the hilarious skits that come out weekly in preparation for the fun football event.

Most Marketable Athletes List Revealed

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Every year the world’s top athletes are evaluated to see how marketable they are, and it all depends on a number of factors including: age, willingness to be marketed, money, home market, charisma and crossover appeal. This year the list was released by SportsPro Media and named the tennis player Eugenie Bouchard as the number one most marketable athlete in the world, which bumped the young Brazilian soccer player Neymar down to number two after placing first two years in a row. All of these players listed are eligible to play in next year’s Rio 2016 Olympics if their sport is applicable, so they can expect to be given offers for product promotions, endorsements, and television opportunities between now and then.

Some of the previously listed big name athletes did not make the cut this year, such as Michael Phelps, Shaun White, and Lindsey Vonn, who were at the upper end of it a couple years ago. Usain Bolt lost his number eight slot only to be topped by a new competitor to the track and field category, Katarina Johnson-Thompson who placed above the runner at number nine. A few people were surprised to see the amazing Lionel Messi rank at only 22, but that could be partially due to his age. The only swimmer to make the list this year was Missy Franklin who showed her true colors in the last 2012 London Olympics, and it has been known that she has a goal to become the most decorated female swimmer in history.

SportsPro’s List of the Top 10 Most Marketable Athletes:

1. Eugenie Bouchard, Tennis
2. Neymar, Soccer (No. 1 in 2012 and 2013)
3. Jordan Spieth, Golf
4. Missy Franklin, Swimming
7. Stephen Curry, Basketball
8. Kei Nishikori, Tennis
9. Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Track and Field
10. Usain Bolt, Track and Field

What Should Marketers Take Away From This?

As you glance over the list, you will see a majority of the names are relatively new to their sport or have reached a new height or peak in their perspective sports. With the growth of social media, everyone has access to the latest news within seconds (kind of crazy) and sports fans seem to jump to the latest, greatest athlete based on their recent accomplishments.

Athletes who have short term success and/or are one and done, the window of becoming a household name or even remaining marketability for a sustainable period has become smaller than ever. A great example of this is Kei Nishikori who made a big impression on fans and companies around the world in 2014 and landed some major endorsements. Fast forward to 2015, he is no longer the talk of the town, many are still focused around names like Nadal, Federer, Djokovic, Murray, and most recently Stan Wawrinka after his big win in the French Open.

Negative Press

Another great example is Michael Phelps, he was once of the most marketable athletes, but his retirement combined with negative press from his outside activities drove down his marketability quick.

Athletes who are viewed as a troubled or have issues that could cause issues for brands like Hope Solo, Michael Vick, Adrian Peterson and several others become untouchable or quickly go to the bottom of the list as potential brand ambassadors as they are to much of a risk.

Social Media Influence

Social Media for AthletesWith the growth of social media and the quick assumption of the masses that an athlete is guilty when a story is released (mainly because of how viral a story goes in such a short period of time), companies have been in the position to have to weigh heavily of the risk factors of an athlete. They will review their social media presence along with how they are perceived in the public and if they have done anything socially that may be questionable.

Much like we found with Tiger Woods, there will be occasions or times where things may come from left field as there were no warning signs or true indicators that troubling action was going on.

Bad Track Record

Tiger is definitely an isolated incident as overall many athletes already have a preexisting track record i.e. Jameis Winston. Winston is a great example as he hasn’t gotten near as many endorsements as recently drafted QB Marcus Mariota (Nike, Hawaiian Bank, Subway, Beats By Dre) who had a clean slate coming into the NFL Draft.

As we look at the sports marketing and athletes as a marketing tool to propel brands, we will see more analytic’s aligning brands with athletes who are well known but overall haven’t had any trouble or issues off the field, on the field or via social media.

Needing assistance on aligning your brand with an athlete or sports celebrity? Contact Us today!

The Makers of Oreo, Ritz, Trident, Honey Maid and Sour Patch Kids Announce a Multi-Year Deal to Become the Official Snacks of MLS

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Major League Soccer is starting to become increasingly popular in the United States and getting the attention of not just new fans, but new sponsors too. The maker and producer of big food brands such as Oreo, Ritz, Trident, Honey Maid and Sour Patch Kids are parented by Mondelez International who has committed to becoming the newest endorser of the professional soccer league in the country. Items such as gum, crackers, cookies and candy will all be a part of the campaign to be represented as the official snacks of the MLS and the two sectors of American culture will work together to support each other.

Orlando-CityIn 2015 the MLS introduced two new franchises to the league: Orlando City Soccer and New York City FC, which have had a successful debut in just the first couple of games that kicked off the season. Next year another team will be joining the MLS, Minnesota United FC, which just goes to show how quickly the sport is spreading throughout the USA. Many of the soccer teams have their own stadiums, but some of them share the space with their local NFL team and this is a great way to promote soccer and bring in bigger crowds.

As the league continues to grow it only makes sense that major retail companies would want to be a part of it and get in on the action, which is exactly what Mondelez International has done. They will be integrated with the sport’s social media campaign, #PassTheLove, which is in it’s second year and is designed to bring attention to American soccer and gain attendance at the games.

The future of professional soccer in the United States is extremely exciting, as more players from bigger leagues in regions like Europe are being recruited to come play for the MLS. It’s great to see retailers jump in as key players to help promote the sport, and vice versa.

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