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Why Sponsor an Athlete?


Why is there a Limited Edition McLaren 620R here? It's because I had the unique opportunity to be driven around Indy 500 weekend in it. I won't say whose it is but it's a famous racing driver and a pretty insane car. As in many other years I'm at the Indy 500 working and this year especially I worked hard to take a novel 50,000 foot view of the event, drivers, cars, circus, parties, etc. What I saw were logos everywhere. Shocking, I know! Yes, I work in the sports sponsorship world each day across many different sports but standing on the grid and looking at the drivers with their suits and helmets I thought to myself, why? I actually know the why which is fantastic because I really don't know all that much in this world. Now I want to share why so many brands are sponsoring not only drivers but athletes of all types.


Here are some interesting facts and figures:

  • According to a global survey conducted by Nielsen Sports, 31% of consumers around the world reported being more likely to purchase products endorsed by athletes.

  • The above being said determining an exact percentage increase in consumer likelihood to purchase a product or service solely based on athlete endorsements is challenging due to the many variables involved, including the specific product, the athlete's popularity, the target audience, and the overall marketing strategy. The impact of athlete endorsements can vary greatly depending on these factors. I've actually higher higher figures in the past.

  • Credibility and Trust: Athletes are often seen as credible and trustworthy figures, especially when they excel in their respective sports. Consumers may believe that if an athlete endorses a product, it must be good. This can instill confidence and trust in the product, making consumers more likely to consider purchasing it. Seems basic but this is a driver around the world!

  • Aspiration and Identification: Athletes are admired and seen as role models by many people. When consumers see their favorite athletes using or endorsing a particular product, they may feel a sense of aspiration and identify with the athlete. This emotional connection can drive consumers to purchase the endorsed product, hoping to emulate their favorite athlete's success or lifestyle. The opposite of this we'll save for another article but this holds true for kids especially.

  • Increased Awareness: Athlete endorsements can significantly increase the visibility and awareness of a product or brand. When a popular athlete endorses a product through various channels like television, social media, or print advertisements, it reaches a wide audience. This increased exposure can pique consumer interest, leading to consideration and potential purchase. How much is 3-4 minutes of time on NBC worth? Well, take the cumulative air time covering a driver in the 500 and it's worth a lot. There's great value for a brand who couldn't afford 3-4 minutes on NBC but get that exposure at a fraction of the cost by sponsoring the driver.

  • Enhanced Brand Image: Associating a brand with a successful athlete can positively impact its image. Athletes are often associated with traits like determination, discipline, and excellence, and these attributes can transfer to the endorsed product or brand. The association with a renowned athlete can elevate the brand's status, making it more appealing to consumers.

Now back to the McLaren. I was shocked how many people came up to us when we were getting in and getting out of the car (albeit in a yoga tree pose manner due to the seat configuration) and these fans knew exactly whose car it was which meant they were fans of the athlete and McLaren. Sponsoring athletes works in so many ways and I think the only thing left to say is, yes, the car is phenomenal!


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