Louisville Slugger is synonymous with baseball, thanks to absolutely epic marketing.
Including the first ever professional athlete endorsement.
In 1905, Honus Wagner was at the height of his career having been named the National League Batting Champion nearly five years in a row.
Wagner signed a contract to allow Louisville Slugger to use his signature on baseball bats sold in stores.
Over a century later and more than 60% of major league players still use Louisville Slugger bats.
In this article we're going to dive into why professional athletes are better at selling your product than you are and how to use sports celebrity endorsements the right way.
What is Sports Celebrity Endorsement Marketing?
Celebrity endorsement marketing uses a famous person or group that has a high degree of recognition, trust and respect among a target audience to promote a product or service.
The strategy of celebrity endorsement marketing has been in the industry for a while and is proven to increase brand equity, product sales, and a company’s market value.
Why Sports Celebrity Endorsements are Effective
Humans are social beings. We often look to others for guidance on what we should do. We might ask our close friends or experts for help.
Celebrities hold even greater sway over public opinion and purchasing behavior.
Not only can sportswear giants Nike and Adidas attest to the effectiveness of sports celebrity endorsements, but science can back this fact up.
A study published in September 2020 found that “A sports celebrity is the most effective type of endorser in increasing consumers’ purchase intentions…”
This is primarily thanks to a psychological effect known as classical conditioning.
When a celebrity (unconditioned stimulus) endorses a product (conditioned stimulus) they transfer some of their own personal traits and values onto that product (conditioned response).
And that's just one reason a sports celebrity's endorsement is effective.
Including professional athletes in your advertising strategy also increases ad recall, and promotes a positive brand image and credibility.
People Pay Attention
More than half of TV viewers stop paying attention to ads as soon as they come on TV.
To say the competition for your audience's attention is tough is an extreme understatement.
The right sports celebrity is seen as a positive role model by your target audience, they impact their lives.
Because of this, the advertisement is attractive and interesting; breaking through the clutter of advertisements and making the advertisement and the brand memorable.
Stimulus or Response Advertising
Some sports-based advertisements use celebrities as a way to make the product look more exciting.
This is known as stimulus or response advertising, where brands associate themselves with something positive to make their image look better.
Nike is a perfect example of this.
By signing Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the most popular athletes in the world, to endorse their products, Nike is able to tap into his global fan base.
In return, Nike gets to use Ronaldo’s image to make their own products look more exciting and appealing.
It’s a win-win situation.
Credibility and Trust
People tend to believe what they see, especially if it’s coming from someone they admire or look up to.
When a sports celebrity uses or endorses a product, it gives the product an air of credibility because people trust that celebrities would only endorse products that they actually believe in and use.
How to Use Celebrity Endorsements the Right Way
Now that we know how effective celebrity endorsements can be, it’s time to learn how to use them the right way.
Choosing the right sports celebrity is paramount.
For the endorsement to be successful, there needs to be a match in the consumer’s mind between the celebrity that is featured in the advertisement and your product.
You see, a professional athlete represents specific qualities to people, and these qualities need to be consistent from that athlete through to the features of the product that they are endorsing.
Good news? You don’t need to understand the theories behind a successful match-up.
That's our thing.
Hit the pink chatbot in the bottom right-hand corner to speak with a Colormatics team member.
Examples of Professional Athlete Endorsements
Colormatics has worked with countless professional athletes to produce memorable ad campaigns. Often under strict timelines or without access to the celebrity themselves. Check out a few recent examples below.
What do you get when you mix basketball stars Stephen Curry and Shaquille O’Neal?
One of the most memorable crypto ads of the year.
The “Not an Expert” ad follows Stephen Curry throughout a day of outrageous activities like ice carving a giant ape to prove that crypto doesn’t need to be complicated.
Udonis Haslem is not only a star player for the Heat basketball team but also a zealous advocate for using and investing in cryptocurrency.
Because of this passion for crypto, he was a natural choice to become the spokesperson for the partnership between FTX and the Heat.
The 30-second, ‘You in, Miami?’ commercial aired in FTX Arena during The Miami Heat’s opening night.
Later, the video took over Miami through social media, broadcast, OTT, digital, and billboards.
Empowering women is one of the causes that Naomi Osaka champions. Including the crypto space, which is known for being a male-dominant industry.
As a company that stands for social change, it was a no-brainer for FTX to make Osaka a global ambassador.
Without the ability to film Naomi, Colormatics combined live-action with animation and VFX to create an engaging 2-minute video.
Trevor Lawrence, the first NFL draft pick to receive cryptocurrency as part of the deal, including currencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Solana.
Colormatics set in motion a huge display advertising campaign targeting 29 NFL markets in the U.S. made up of consumers interested in crypto, finance and sports.
Taking the internet by storm and generating over 1.5 million clicks
Sports Celebrities Advertising: Key Takeaways
- A sports celebrity is the most effective type of product endorsement.
- Professional athletes increase ad recall, promote a positive brand image and credibility.
- For the endorsement to be successful, athlete’s qualities need to match with the product features in the consumer’s mind.