The modern sports industry is a territory of brands, products, services, events, and personalities. This circumstance gives us the opportunity to consider everything that happens in it through the prism of relations between brands. This means that the importance of understanding the essence, structure, attributes, and functions of personal brands in sports increases significantly.
This is probably a worthy compensation for the enjoyment of millions of spectators and for the opportunity to demonstrate their patriotic feelings. But in order for an athlete to realize himself in this way, a great deal of work needs to be done.
It is necessary to understand that the role of the persona in sports marketing is ambiguous, depending on the tasks that different market actors solve. In sports marketing, the most common relationship is between three parties extremely interested in each other: the Athlete (Event) – the Fans – the Sponsor. Let us consider two models of the relationship between them, which have fundamental differences, and determine the appropriate type of marketing strategy.
The Athletes create the spectacle of a sporting Event, thereby attracting the attention of the Fans, who in turn are the target group for the Sponsor’s products. The Sponsor has the option of either influencing its customers directly or seeking to influence them through recognized and respected individuals (in our case, athletes). The Sponsor, therefore, has an interest in gaining access to the Athlete’s audience of fans, as well as in being able to transfer their attention and loyalty to their product (brand). In this model, the Sponsor is the most interested subject. It is he who initiates the relationship: finds the Athlete who has an audience of fans-consumers with the right characteristics, and then builds his communications.
The Athlete who gives the Sponsor access to “his audience” is rewarded accordingly. Thus, “star marketing” should be understood as a marketing strategy built on the interaction of a product (service) brand with a celebrity for its further development. Such a model only works successfully if the athlete has become at least recognizable and gained fans. “Celebrity marketing” allows the brand to expand the existing target audience, attract new target audiences, as well as to adjust or more clearly position the brand.
It is advisable to use sports stars when:
A new product launch. The consumer is not familiar with the brand, it is necessary to create an artificial brand experience;
Repositioning of a well-known brand. With the help of a popular athlete it is possible to seriously influence the change of the existing positioning by forming new associations;
Brand reanimation. In cases where a brand existed but for some reason disappeared from view, it needs to be recalled. The athlete’s involvement in this marketing task can give greater momentum and confidence to brand reanimation;
Creating an actual unique selling proposition (USP). Interaction with the star makes the brand unique;
Status reinforcement. The brand implements a leadership challenger strategy and seeks to reinforce an image, such as RISE.RISK.REPEAT. This marketing strategy solves the following problems: to attract additional attention to the brand; to build up brand loyalty; to increase the brand audience; to associate the brand with the values of sports.
The ” celebrity marketing” model can have the greatest effect when the athlete has brand attributes (well-known name; charisma; ability to evoke associations; “commercial involvement”; capitalization; unique differences – verbal, motor, appearance, habits, temperament, etc.; stability of sports performance level), acquired spontaneously or as a result of the targeted activities of personal marketing specialists. This is why it is important to know the techniques of creating an athlete’s personal brand – that is, personal marketing itself.