If Michael Phelps and Conor McGregor can do it, so can @maroitoje @geraintthomas86 @paddyholohanmma @nicholasroche @smyth_jason @keane_ellen @jessiebarr247 @ringrose_g
Big budget TV ads based on the world’s leading athletes are nothing new, and in what promises to be an epic sporting year in 2016 we will see plenty of them in the lead up to Rio.
We want to highlight two top notch efforts from Under Armour and Budweiser, and ask the question - ‘if they can do it, why can’t others?’
UNDER ARMOUR | MICHAEL PHELPS | RULE YOURSELF
A beautifully shot piece, an American olympic icon, and the end of a storied career, Under Armour’s ‘Rule Yourself’ has all the ingredients for a blockbuster US ad campaign and brand story.
There’s not much more to say about a piece that is generating millions of views, except that it’s another example of Under Armour’s commitment to using athletes to tell their brand story. Phelps will make the headlines in 2016, but in Jordan Spieth, Steph Curry and Misty Copeland, UA will continue to invest in telling athlete stories as they bid to usurp Nike and Adidas as the biggest sports brand in the world.
What we will never be able to measure is how important a piece like this can be in establishing the legacy of an athlete like Phelps. Olympic success in the pool will always work, but a brand showcasing your story to the world will contribute hugely to Phelps’ image and post-swimming career. A great example of a win/win situation for the brand, the athlete and the sport itself.
BUDWEISER | CONOR McGREGOR | DREAM BIG
'Cage-fighting Irishman in big budget TV ad for one of the world’s biggest beer brands’ - not something we would have predicted as recently as two or three years ago.
The brutality of MMA is an oft-used reason as to why blue chip sponsors are not backing the sport and the fighters. In McGregor’s case, his larger than life persona and crossover appeal mean Budweiser can run a fight-free piece focusing on his personal story - his journey from the mean streets of Dublin to realising his American dream in a big, big way. And guess what, you don’t have to be an MMA fan to appreciate it.
IF THEY CAN DO IT…
Why can’t you?
Phelps and McGregor are far from the only athletes with inspiring stories to tell. There are many others who live way down on the sponsorship spectrum, but who have stories that brands can tell in order to connect with fans of the athlete, fans of their sport and fans of the human stories behind these elite athletes.
And guess what, as a brand owner you probably haven’t been tasked with taking over the world as the marketing teams at Budweiser and Under Armour have, so…
- Take a look around
- Identify the sports that have enough audience appeal
- Dig into the stories of the athletes who look interesting (they don’t have to be the most successful)
- Meet some agents
- Meet some athletes
- Watch them train
- Watch them compete
- Talk about activation that is a win/win for your brand and your sponsored athlete
- Trust that there’s an audience for great sport storytelling
- And invest in the sporting passion that we know exists in your customers
(P.S. the athletes called out at the start of this article would be as good a starting point as any)