Money Smart Athlete Blog

Looking at trends: 5 Industries that invest big in sports advertising through brand ambassadors

Jan 30, 2019 | The Athlete's Brand

By Constantinos Massonos, Contributor

Attracting the attention of a target audience is becoming a more and more difficult task for any brand. The traditional 30-second ad on television and radio is no longer the only available means to do so, as internet and social media usage is constantly increasing. Marketers are struggling to find the most suitable recipe, or marketing mix, of appropriate platforms and innovative strategies that will allow them to deliver a brand’s message in the most impactful way.

Sports provide a worldwide platform for brands to engage with a huge fan base. Advertising in sports has been increasing exponentially through the years, taking many forms, with the most traditional being ground or team sponsorship. Athletes have also been historically helping brands build an emotional connection with consumers by acting as brand ambassadors.

With millions of users accessing digital sports content every day, athletes using online platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat can interact with them, establishing themselves as “influencers”. Brands on the other hand can create marketing strategies that take advantage of this new relationship between their brand ambassadors and their followers, by creating digital content suited to the various social platforms they use.

When creating their personal marketing strategy, Money Smart Athletes should be aware of the prevailing sports advertising trends as well as the top industries that invest in the sponsorship of athletes.  Knowing where the money is can be quite beneficial for athletes so that they gear their efforts towards that direction!

There are a number of industries that invest big in brand ambassadors from the sports sector and we will briefly look into them below.

Sports provide a huge opportunity for the Beverage industry to launch marketing campaigns, as fans traditionally connect watching their favorite sport with enjoying their favorite drink. The two giants, Pepsi and Coca Cola, have been employing some of the biggest names in sports to promote their products. Kyrie Irving, Sergio Aguero, Luiz Suarez, Luke Kuechly and Felix Hernandez are a few of the big names that endorse Pepsi while Lebron James, Jordan Spieth and David Ortiz endorse Coke. Energy drinks are also investing big with Red Bull employing the likes of Neymar, Blake Griffin and Sebastian Vettel to promote their products, while Monster energy drink is being endorsed by Luis Hamilton and Valentino Rossi.

The link between the Auto industry and sports has always been strong. Sponsorships are one of the most common ways in which brands pursue marketing opportunities that create deep levels of engagement between their brand and consumers. Nissan is one of the companies which have a great number of athlete brand ambassadors. Usain Bolt, Sam Bradford and Naomi Osaka are just a few of the athletes who endorse the Japanese auto giant while Eden Hazard, Phillipe Coutinho and Lieke Mertens have been part of the manufacturer’s Champions League sponsorship program. German luxury car manufacturer Mercedes on the other hand is being endorsed by tennis legend Roger Federer and F1 Champion Lewis Hamilton.

The world’s big Sportswear brands have been using athletes as the center of their marketing campaigns for decades and many times two great rivals on the court or field are wearing clothing from rival clothing companies. Messi who endorses Adidas and Ronaldo who endorses Nike, are two of the greatest soccer players of the last decade, with their rivalry extending outside the field of play. Puma has been endorsing Usain Bolt while trying to concentrate on the Track and Field Market, and Reebok has been trying to break into the UFC market by endorsing UFC champion Connor McGregor.

The Luxury Watch makers have been leveraging the positive associations consumers have with famous athletes to build brand awareness and drive sales for years. Rolex has been sponsoring many top athletes such as Tennis players Roger Federer and Caroline Wozniacki, F1 drivers Nico Rosberg and Mark Webber and golfer Phil Mickelson. Tag Heuer has signed Alexander Rossi from F1 and soccer players Mats Hummels and Shinji Kagawa as brand ambassadors. Japanese watch manufacturer Seiko has been endorsing Novak Djokovic and Nascar driver Jimmy Johnson to promote their watches.

Finally, Banks and Financial Institutions have been also key players in the athlete endorsement market. In the US, BBVA Compass is not only sponsoring three NBA teams, the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and the San Antonio Spurs but has also been endorsing NBA superstars Kevin Durant and James Harden. Opus Bank has employed Golden State Warrior’s Klay Thomson as brand ambassador while Steph Curry who also plays for the Warriors has a lucrative endorsement deal with JP Morgan Chase. On the other side of the planet, Qatar National Bank has recently announced Soccer superstar Neymar as their new global ambassador.

The list of companies seeking brand exposure through sports star ambassadors goes on and on, and more industries are following suit by utilizing sports stars to promote their brands.  This presents a lucrative opportunity for athletes, in terms of creating additional revenue streams and gaining large-scale visibility.  For more information on what it takes to become a brand ambassador you may contact us at