A Guide to Partnering with Athletes for Holiday Campaigns

During the holiday season, sales for brands often see a significant boost. The festive aura from Christmas, the joyous spirit of Hanukkah, and the reflection of New Year's all present special marketing moments. To truly harness the potential of these festive occasions, it's essential to have the right spokesperson to echo your brand's holiday message. Athletes, with their trustworthiness, authenticity, and influence, can be just the right fit. But the question remains, how do you select the ideal athlete for your specific holiday campaign?

OpenSponsorship is your go-to this season! Here's how you can navigate Athlete partnerships this holiday season to see a boost in sales.

Why Brands Should Partner with Athletes During the Holiday Season

Amplified Brand Exposure:

Athletes, especially those with a significant following, have an established and engaged audience. By partnering with them, brands can tap into a ready-made community, instantly gaining more visibility. With consumers being inundated with marketing messages during the holiday season, athletes can help brands stand out and ensure their message is seen and heard by many. Check out how SteadyMD worked with athletes to increase awareness which directly led to more website traffic.

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Enhanced Trust and Authenticity:

People trust recommendations from those they admire. When an athlete speaks positively about a brand or product, it carries an air of credibility and authenticity. Their endorsement can serve as a powerful testimonial, compelling fans and followers to consider the brand in their holiday shopping. This trust factor can significantly boost a brand's reputation and sales during this crucial period. Check out how MidWest Express Clinic built trust with its audience through a partnership with Kris Bryant.

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Seamless Integration into Lifestyle and Trends:

Athletes, beyond their sport, often represent certain lifestyles, aspirations, and trends. When a brand aligns with an athlete, it's not just about the product or service but about integrating into a broader narrative. This creates a deeper connection with consumers who associate the brand with certain values, lifestyles, or aspirations. During the holiday season, when emotions run high, such connections can be the deciding factor for many consumers. Check out how Levi's and Dick's announced their partnership by seamlessly blending into the lives of Athletes.

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Finding the Right Athletes to Work With This Holiday Season


1. Get Personalized Athlete Recommendations

This is the easiest way to dive into the vast amount of athletes there are on OpenSponsorship. Dip your toes by simply entering your brand's Instagram handle. This smart engine churns out a curated list of athletes who resonate with your brand’s ethos - a swift, introductory step to athlete partnerships. Below is a tutorial on how to try out the OpenSponsorship recommendations engine - try it today to see who your brand matches with! 


2. Advanced Matchmaking: Search Profiles

For brands that crave deeper precision, the Search Profiles feature is a treasure trove. Define your criteria, from the athlete's gender and sport to their audience's age demographics, and uncover a match that fits like a glove. There are nearly limitless criteria - below is a tutorial of how you can use search to find Female soccer players that are currently living in the United States. Follow this tutorial to run a search of your own! You can try the search function for free on OpenSponsorship.


3. Find an Organic Connection with Social Insights

Ever wondered if athletes are naturally talking about themes or products akin to your brand? With Social Insights, scour through keywords and find out who's naturally inclined toward your offerings, even before an official partnership begins. This leads to much stronger relationships between the brand and athletes - it can also play a big role in the return on investment when working with the athlete. Below is a tutorial on how we found an athlete that is female and talks about fishing. You can try Social Insights today with a free brand account on OpenSponsorship.

BONUS METHOD: Personalized Guidance with an OpenSponsorship Account Manager

While tools are fantastic, sometimes you just need human expertise. Our dedicated account managers can provide insights and connections tailored to your brand’s unique needs, ensuring optimal athlete partnerships. On a full service plan - your brand gets a dedicated account manager that will take your goals and turn them into reality with athlete marketing. They will source athletes for your campaign and share them with your team for approval. 


5 Ideas for Holiday Campaigns with Athletes

1. Holiday Fitness Challenge with Athlete Endorsement:

Collaborate with a popular athlete to initiate a 'Holiday Fitness Challenge'. The challenge promotes staying healthy amidst holiday feasts, where participants follow a 30-day meal plan exclusively containing the brand's health products. The athlete endorses these meals, perhaps even sharing their personal favorites, and checks in weekly via social media to motivate participants. Those who complete the challenge get a chance to win a workout session with the athlete or a year's supply of health products.

2. Athlete-Designed Holiday Bootcamp:

Partner with a renowned athlete to design a special 'Holiday Bootcamp' program. Members can sign up for this exclusive training module where they train according to the athlete's regimen. The campaign can utilize posters featuring the athlete, and occasional virtual or in-person classes led by them. This not only attracts existing members but might bring in those fans of the athlete looking to get in shape during the holidays.

3. Limited Edition Holiday Athlete Collection:

Collaborate with an athlete to launch a 'Limited Edition Holiday Athlete Collection'. The athlete can be involved in the design process, infusing their personal style and preferences. This makes the collection a unique blend of brand style and athlete's signature. Promotions can involve behind-the-scenes content, showcasing the athlete's involvement and wearing the line.

4. Athlete Financial Goals Journey:

Get an athlete to share their journey of financial goals, savings, and investments. This campaign can highlight the importance of financial planning during the holiday season. Create a series of webinars or short videos with the athlete discussing their financial milestones and how the brand helped them achieve it. This humanizes the brand and also inspires people to think about their financial resolutions for the upcoming year.


5. Holiday Athlete Face-Off:

Organize a series of virtual face-offs where athletes compete in friendly bets or predictions related to holiday-themed challenges or events. Users can bet alongside their favorite athlete and win exclusive merch or get a chance to meet them virtually. This engages users, offers them a fresh way to interact with the app during the holidays, and capitalizes on the athlete's fanbase.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for Brands Partnering with Athletes in the Holiday Season

Engagement Rate:

Engagement rate delves deeper than mere reach. It measures how actively the athlete's audience interacts with the sponsored content. This includes likes, comments, shares, and even the depth of those interactions (e.g., the content of comments). A high engagement rate indicates that the content resonated well with the audience, ensuring the brand's message was not only seen but also effectively received.

Return on Investment (ROI):

While broader brand awareness is essential, ultimately, partnerships should drive tangible results. This can be direct sales, leads generated, or any specific conversion metric aligned with the brand's goals. Comparing the financial or resource investment made in partnering with the athlete to the monetary benefits received can offer a clear picture of the collaboration's profitability. Check out how Dyper achieved a 2.42x ROI and lowered their CAC!

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Audience Growth Metrics:

Partnering with athletes often provides brands with an opportunity to tap into a new and broader audience base. It's essential to measure how much the brand's own social media followers or subscribers have increased since the start of the collaboration. Additionally, analyzing where these new followers are coming from can offer insights into the athlete's audience demographics and whether the partnership is attracting the brand's target audience effectively.

In Conclusion, Working with Athletes on Holiday Campaigns can Help Boost Sales!

Leveraging athlete partnerships can dramatically elevate your holiday marketing strategy, fostering both reach and authenticity. With OpenSponsorship’s array of tools and insights, the pathway from initial search to fruitful collaboration has never been smoother. Whether you're ringing in a national holiday or a seasonal celebration, make sure the right athlete is echoing your brand’s voice. Cheers to successful campaigns and soaring sales!


Jeff is OpenSponsorship's Director of Marketing. He typically writes about sports sponsorship, marketing, and tips & tricks for brands.