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Written by Simon Dent, founder of talent management agency HERO

2022 is approaching and it will be another huge year for world sport.

You could tell it’s set to be one of the biggest years in the sport ever. Starting with the Africa Cup of Nations, followed by the Winter Olympics and Paralympics before moving on to the Commonwealth Games, Rugby World Cup, Women’s Rugby World Cup and finishing with the FIFA World Cup.

Brands are already keeping agencies informed of all of the above, whether they have official partner status or are looking to ambush one of the above events without recognized accreditation.

Having sat on both sides of the fence, as a sports agent and creative agency owner, I’m often surprised that little attention is paid to having ambassadors as part of the brand marketing mix.

These conversations, of course, apply not only to major events, but also to brands that want to engage a sports audience at any time. Using talent, for brands, you simply don’t have to see big wedges of cash thrown at flashy “superstars” names. The best way for brands to make an impact with ambassadors is to ask one simple question…

“Can sports talent help us achieve our goals and be the heroes we need in the fans and communities we look to engage?”

There are many reasons why brands use ambassadors from the world of sports. Here are a number of reasons why, I believe, having an ambassador is more useful now than ever.

draw attention
When a sports celebrity (whether retired or still playing) talks, fans of the sport tend to pay attention. For how long, it really depends on the messaging, but you can be confident that content with sports talent leads to engagement and engagement.

Product Association
This is great for me. Ambassadors can do a lot of the heavy lifting for a brand when it comes to explaining its brand values. A lot of time and money can be saved by using a famous face that is known to represent something, especially for a new brand or product launch.

Attract new clients
Obvious but important. If you use the star as the face of your brand, you will likely quickly select fans of the character as customers.

Humanize your brand
If done correctly (and creatively!) this can be very useful, especially for certain groups that struggle to engage consumers on an emotional level. The world of technology comes to mind.

encourage loyalty
For many companies, it may be more cost-effective to retain existing customers than to recruit new ones. Brands can leverage the emotional connection consumers have with talent and use it to drive an emotional connection with their brand, and in doing so reap the benefits of a more enduring long-term relationship.

Media value on social media
Appointing ambassadors can be a media purchase for some brands, especially with the amount of data available on talent social media sites. Brands can laser focus with the audience they seek via social media, much more than buying traditional forms of media. This is incredibly powerful as the younger generation is showing signs that they don’t want to be “advertised”.

Culture, no communication!
This is really interesting to me because using sports talent can allow a brand to become part of a culture-related conversation without the advertising messages barking at the chosen audience.

Building trust with the client
If talent trusts the brand enough to work with them, then hopefully, consumers will too. There are some examples where this has not been the case…but if brand alignment and talent feel authentic and reliable, it goes a long way in driving consumer interaction.

It goes without saying that you have to choose the right brand ambassador who lives and breathes your brand. An authentic relationship with your product or service. When a brand finds the right talent to partner with, talent can become a human manifestation of the brand. Oh, and please don’t confuse Ambassador and Influencer, they are two separate worlds.

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