Helping brands to partner with athletes in their influencer marketing and sponsorship marketing campaigns

How Athletes Really Feel About CBD

Oct 23, 2020 11:51:03 AM / by Audrey Brown posted in athletes, cbd


In recent years, the legalization and use of CBD in some states have become a very prevalent topic in the sports world. It opens the doors for even more sponsorship opportunities with CBD brands, which is controversial among athletes, and if they should be partnering with these companies. Continuing the conversation with elite athletes Abby Dunkin (Paralympic wheelchair basketball player) and Leah West Casciano (Powerlifter), they discuss their opinions on CBD endorsements and if athletes should partner or use these CBD brands that are just starting to evolve. 

For Dunkin, the use of CBD is nothing new to her. 

“I’ve been actually using CBD for quite a few years, and so actually before it came really popular, it was really hard to get because people do have this negative notation on it. They think, ‘Oh you’re just going to get high all the time,’ which is completely false,” she declares. 

However, there are potential consequences if an athlete chooses to partner with a CBD brand because of its ingredients. 

“It’s also hard for (at least from the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic side) is that for us, we couldn’t use it in competition because we also get drug tested with Usada,” Dunkin discloses. “So you can’t have any amount of THC on a drug test or you’re going to be suspended for two years. We really have to pay attention to the labels, and even if the label says that there is no THC, we can’t take that risk and sacrifice potential two years of training competition for a product.” 

Other than the potential risk of ingesting certain ingredients, Dunkin personally views CBD to be extremely helpful in both her personal and professional life. 

“Now that I’m retired, I’m free to use whatever. I find it very beneficial for training and day-to-day life too, so I think the CBD industry is only going to go up-and-up. I think it’s definitely become a more popular item for sure,” Dunkin concludes. 

Casciano points out that the use of CBD wasn’t even an option two years ago. Since then, it’s become a heavily disputed item.

“CBD is such a booming industry and has been for (close to) two years now?” she questions. “In the last year for sure. It’s interesting because it seems like it kind of came out of nowhere, and I guess it’s because of the laws changing regarding hemp plants, and so more states can use the plant in other ways than what we all usually know what the plant is for. So I think CBD is great.”

Not to mention the fact that it has taken some time for people to fully comprehend what CBD can do for athletes and their training. 

“I think that it is interesting because like I said, it kind of boomed and came onto the scene just into mainstream media and marketing, so there was a lot of misinformation right off the bat,” Casciano declares. “I think that it took a few months (at least in my world) it took a while for people to realize what it even was and that it doesn’t have any type of properties that get you high or anything like that. A lot of it was education, and now people understand the recovery aspects of it. What it can do, how it can help, how it can benefit, and that anyone can use it and take it.” 

Casciano points out that some companies are in the CBD industry for the money, so it’s important to find ones who are interested in helping with the recovery process.

“Now, it’s finding and filtering out the companies that are a good product and not just trying to make money by selling something from a plant that is now able to be used and sold everywhere.” 

As a concluding thought, Casciano is amazed at how much the CBD industry has developed.

“It is interesting how CBD and technology and social media have just grown exponentially in the last year. I feel like you just see it everywhere you turn now,” Casciano states.

Research suggests that CBD can be used to alleviate pain and lower inflammation, which is why it’s an ongoing topic in sports. Many believe that athletes should be allowed to use CBD after their intense training sessions. The use of CBD would decrease the use of over-the-counter pain relievers, which can cause an opioid addiction among athletes. However, others have reservations about CBD because of the use of THC, which can show up on drug tests. As Dunkin pointed out, many athletes have to be drug tested before their competitions. If there are traces of THC in the CBD products that the athletes are using, it could result in a suspension from their sport indefinitely. Therefore, the topic of whether or not CBD should be allowed in the sports industry is still up for discussion. However, with the world constantly changing and progressing, there is a good chance it will become fully legalized in sports very soon.

To hear more from Dunkin and Casciano, watch the entire interview here.

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Jun 19, 2020 4:51:33 PM / by Zack Smith posted in NBA, NFL, NHL, Golf, cbd, pga


Professional Sports View on CBD Products

The legalization of CBD in all 50 US states in recent years brought a flood of brands selling different CBD products, and sports sponsorship has been the most popular area for their brands to build awareness and spread information about their product. The 4 major US sports leagues have not yet warmed up to the idea of embracing these brands as partners, but other sports leagues have started to work with them. This includes the BIG3 basketball league, IndyCar racing teams, and active players in the PGA. In addition, retired players in the NBA and NFL have teamed up for great sponsorship deals with CBD brands and these players have started to lobby for CBD products to be allowed for active players to use.

The CBD Industry

More formally known as cannabidiol, CBD is the compound found in cannabis that does not give users the psychoactive effects of marijuana. Trials and experiences from users advocate for CBD as an effective treatment for pain relief. And the numbers certainly support it: a 2019 report from the Brightfield Group projects that the CBD industry could grow to as much as a $23.7 billion industry by the end of 2023.


CBD's Role in Professional Sports

However, with few opportunities available for CBD brands with professional sports franchises, the focus has had to remain on sponsoring the athletes themselves. Several high-profile retired athletes have endorsed these brands, including 16-year vet and BIG3 player Al Harrington (CEO and co-founder of Viola Brands) and NFL star Rob Gronkowski. Both have strongly advocated for the use of CBD, with Gronk raving about the pain relief benefits after 9 surgeries and countless injuries in his NFL career and Harrington saying he was introduced to the idea after seeing how it was able to help his grandmother with her pain and vision problems.

Photo: John Taylor for MG Magazine


How CBD Brands are Utilizing Athletes

CBD brands have seen sports as one of their best outlets for spreading awareness about their product and sharing the benefits that they can provide with a target audience that is relevant to their brand. Ken Cohn, chief marketing officer of cbdMD, said, "Sports are really the perfect way to begin preaching and educating a diverse audience on how CBD, holistically, represents a more natural approach to wellness. With major partners like Bubba (Watson) and the BIG3, we think we're getting the CBD brand and our story in front of millions of people in ways that otherwise we wouldn't be able to accomplish."

Jeff Kwatinetz, the co-founder of BIG3, said the league's deal with cbdMD helps support the league's mission of taking care of their players by allowing them to use CBD products and giving them access through the partnership. For a league full of older former NBA stars, this was an important objective for the league.


CBD Regulation is Professional Sports

Major sports leagues in the US have thrown around the idea of allowing players to use CBD products, with Harrington being one of several players lobbying the NBA to loosen its restrictions. In August of 2017, NBA commissioner Adam Silver told reporters he was "very interested" in learning more about the science behind medical marijuana and was very open to allowing players to use it to recover from injury and ailments. At 2018 All-Star Weekend, Harrington spoke about the benefits of CBD in a small conference, and among those in attendance were players Kyle Lowry and Trevor Ariza, then-Cavaliers coach and former player Tyronn Lue, and executive director of the Players Association Michele Roberts. The NFL has started to explore as well, with the league and players union agreeing to jointly study marijuana as a pain management tool in 2019. In 2019, the NHL Alumni Association,  partnered with Canopy Growth for research on 100 retired players to test the effectiveness of CBD as a treatment for post-concussion neurological disorders.

Several CBD brands have used OpenSponsorship to partner with athletes to help promote their products and discuss the benefits, including Zoho


Zohko CBD Products & Alexis Lete Team Up

Zohko teamed up with Alexis Lete to promote their CBD energy drink and share its benefits, with Alexis sharing how it helps her relieve stress and anxiety, and shared a discount code for people to pick up some of their own. And Alexis's followers loved it- the post saw strong engagement with over 9,000 likes.

Medterra, one of the global leaders in the CBD industry, has also worked with athletes through OpenSponsorship. They have a number of sponsorships in the sports industry, including 4-time PGA tour winner Charley Hoffman and a partnership with Worldwide Golf Shops. They use OpenSponsorship to expand their athlete portfolio, including the post below:


A two-time Olympic track and field runner, Nick Symmonds uses Medterra's CBD cream to help relieve his ankle pain that has come as a result of his long-running career. He also included a discount code and several story posts sharing the product with his followers, and the post above racked up over 4,000 likes.

Moving Forward with Marketing CBD with Athletes

Sports fans are the perfect audience to promote CBD products to, and while the major sports leagues are not currently an option, partnering with the athletes themselves is effective as well. To learn more about how you can use OpenSponsorship to promote your CBD products and enhance your marketing strategy, book a free 15-minute call with us today!

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Take Advantage of CBD Sports Marketing Opportunities

Jan 14, 2020 11:40:44 AM / by Jesse Prottas posted in marketing opportunities, Marketing Recommendations, sports marketing, cbd


CBD Overview:

CBD is the new big thing. But what is it and how is it effective in sports marketing?

CBD (Cannabidiol) has a number of different uses and can be applied in different ways.

A short list of the positive uses that CBD has for athletes are: it can relieve pain, reduce anxiety or depression, treat muscle spasms, reduce inflammation, and it is an alternative to Opioids or other addicting prescription pain relievers.

The main use among professional athletes is that it is a great and safe pain reliever.  This recent discovery by many professional athletes has led to an advocacy for CBD products and companies.  

Although CBD is still technically not allowed for use in some professional leagues such as the NBA, NFL, and NHL… it is allowed for consumption in the MLB, the UFC, professional golf, professional tennis, and is widely used among retired professional athletes from all sports.  



It was just recently (December 2019) allowed for consumption in the MLB, which is a huge potential market to expose CBD products to in this upcoming year of 2020.  Professional baseball players can now advocate for this pain-relieving supplement without any repercussions.  This is going to allow CBD companies to now target some of the biggest athletes in the world to partner with them in marketing campaigns for their CBD products.


Retired Players & CBD:

Some examples of widely recognized retired professional athletes getting involved with CBD companies are Rob Gronkowski (NFL), Paul Pierce (NBA), Steve Smith (NFL), Tiki Barber (NFL), and Bubba Watson (Golf).

A tweet from Paul Pierce announcing his partnership with Vape Vesper.A photo of NFL star Rob Gronkowski at an event with his CBD sponsor.


Professional Tennis & CBD:

A few months ago the professional tennis duo and twin brothers, Mike and Bob Ryan, announced a new partnership with a CBD company called CBD BioCare. In addition to the professional duo, several other professional players recently inked CBD deals including American superstar John Isner.

An advertisement from CBD BioCare featuring two of their athlete endorsers, tennis stars and brothers Mike and Bob Bryan.


The UFC as an organization took a big step capitalizing on the new CBD wave and teamed up with Aurora Cannabis on a CBD study with their fighters.  This partnership between the league and Aurora will lead to effective CBD studies on treating aches and pains that professional athletes, especially UFC fighters, deal with daily.  This opens up fighters in the UFC to the benefits of CBD and makes them great targets for CBD companies for partnerships. World renowned professional UFC fighter Nate Diaz has spoken out about his affinity for CBD products and has partnered with at least one brand.

UFC star Nate Diaz making a post for his sponsor, TRU Vape Oil.

OpenSponsorship Athletes & CBD:

Here at OpenSponsorship we have already started to take advantage of marketing opportunities with CBD brands, pairing up with several different brands for various campaigns.  CBD brands see value partnering with professional athletes regardless of which sport they are involved in, because athletes everywhere truly enjoy the positive effects that CBD treatment has on their body.  Here are some examples of OpenSponsorship athletes pairing with CBD brands:


Sabrina Wieser (Running & Bodybuilding): 103k followers IG

Athlete Sabrina Wieser making a sponsored post for FitAid's CBD product.


Walker Ryan (Skateboarding): 73.3k followers IG

Skateboarder Walker Ryan making a sponsored post for LifeAid and their CBD blend product.


CBD & Sports Marketing:

Now that CBD has become widely accepted in society and in professional sports leagues, it is time to capitalize on the popularity by using influential professional athletes to promote the products to an even larger audience.  Since a ton of athletes are starting to use CBD products and see the positive effects it has on their bodies, it is a perfect time to team up with these athletes for marketing campaigns. Using athletes as influencers has proven to be extremely effective, it is time to take advantage of this opportunity and team up with athletes to create effective and meaningful partnerships.  


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4 tips for CBD sports marketing

Jan 17, 2019 1:13:00 PM / by Andre Maman posted in sports marketing, sports sponsorship, cbd


CBD has become a major buzzword across many different industries. From sports to food it seems CBD has a new use every day. I am sure you are wondering if this cannabinoid extract is really all that; can CBD really be effective in so many different ways? The answer across the board seems to be a resounding yes. In one study examining the effect of CBD on cortisol levels cannabidiol (CBD) caused a significant drop in levels of the stress hormone after administration. In another study examining the antipsychotic effects of CBD, it was discovered that cannabidiol is a well tolerated treatment for people suffering from schizophrenia as it has several antipsychotic properties. Clearly CBD is more than just a buzz word thrown around by companies trying to sell a product. So we know the stuff works, the next question is how do we market it to consumers?

Here are 4 strong ways to get results from your CBD marketing strategy:


Image result for cbd sports marketing


CBD Sports Marketing tip #1: Break through the noise and get into the effectiveness of your product 

An easy way to accomplish this task is to have snapshots of product reviews ready to go. Sponsored athletes are a great way to get some weight behind your CBD brand’s claims. If a professional athlete stands behind your products efficacy consumers are far more likely to buy into the hype and make a purchase. There are thousands of new CBD companies popping up, therefore it is important to attempt to differentiate your brand. A great way to differentiate is by demonstrating that your product is the most effective in the CBD sphere.

Image result for spartan athletes


CBD sports marketing tip #2: Take advantage of micro-influencers

The sports marketing scene can often seem daunting. If you look at any major sport you will see the top athletes like Lebron James signing billion-dollar lifetime contracts. This can be a major turn-off for many smaller scale companies, but fear not, micro-influencers can be just as effective in many cases. Regardless of the visibility in these sort of monster deals, there are still a plethora of athletes on social media with follower cohorts that are wide ranging and therefore have different prices for sponsorship that suit smaller brands. For CBD brands, marketing themselves using athletes with 10k-100k followers is essential.  What you get with these athletes are fan bases that are incredibly engaged with the influencer and their social media platforms. 


Image result for social media marketing


CBD sports marketing tip #3: Capture demographics one at a time

Specificity is often king in getting your message through to consumers. CBD companies like HerbStrong have done extremely well becoming a household name in the fitness industry as a recovery drop. Through the use of fitness influencers their sales have skyrocketed. By focusing heavily on on one demographic brand recognition is raised more quickly.  


Image result for demographic

CBD sports marketing tip #4: Partnerships with other brands and event spaces

Perhaps the fastest and most effective CBD marketing strategy is the use of partnerships. Take, for example, the CBD manufacturer Abacus Health Products. Abacus has partnered with Gillette Stadium, which has massively raised their brand awareness. Through their partnership Abacus has gained access to an entirely new consumer base consisting of New England sports fans. This kind of sponsorship is hugely beneficial to any brands marketing abilities. 

Here are a few athletes that have closed deals through that involve CBD Sports Marketing

David Valdez

Perri Goldstein

Patrick Sweeney

Ryan Carlyle


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