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Photo Credit: Sports Business Journal

Why is endorsement by an athlete so effective? (Op-Ed) 

Now more than ever, it’s incredibly common to spot professional athletes in advertisements and commercials in all formats, whether that be television commercials, social media content, print, etc. 

To be fair, a good portion of these endorsements are for products or services that align with athletics; athleticwear such as shoes, sports drinks, and exercise equipment brands have had a long history of partnering with well-known and highly esteemed athletes to bolster their image and convince their consumer base that the product is good enough for the best of the best. 

Interestingly, though, we’ve seen an increase in athlete endorsement for other industries as well, such as food brands, insurance companies, and credit unions, to name a few.

Why exactly is this happening, and why is it so effective? 

It’s no secret that certain sports and athletic institutions have some of the most passionate, loyal fanbases. Oftentimes, individuals will affiliate themselves with a sports team from a very young age and stay dedicated to that team for a lifetime, forming a strong parasocial bond and encyclopedic knowledge about the team and sport over years of time, if not decades. 

As a result, a level of trust is formed between these fans and the representatives of the team.

With this in mind, it makes perfect sense that audiences and fan bases that witness their favorite athlete endorsing a product or service are more likely to accept their point of view and form a similar opinion- after all, who is better to trust to advise you on your insurance choice than someone who never lets you down on the field or court? 

Celebrity endorsement, brand partnerships and advertising strategies are constantly evolving and changing as media and marketing formats and trends shift over time. Originally serving as a mutually-beneficial, short-term deal to raise brand awareness and support athletes through a spokesperson role, we’ve seen a shift towards long-term, story-based, value-driven advertising that keeps audiences engaged and gives them a valid reason to believe that an athlete truly supports what they’re saying beyond a cash deal. 

In terms of strengthening an athlete’s public image, securing audience trust and attention and, at the end of the day, selling what they need to sell, modern companies have hit a home run. 

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