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

Celebrate Pride Month with these OpenSponsorship Athletes

Jun 9, 2021 12:46:42 PM / by Tracey Wilson posted in OpenSponsorship, sponsoring athletes, sponsors, sports, Sports Sponsor, sports sponsorships, women in sports, athletes, LGBTQ, Pride Month, Pride

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Let's celebrate the LGBTQ+ community in sport by highlighting OpenSponsorship's star athletes!

Representation and awareness in the sports industry has been on the rise, and athletes in every sport imaginable have proven that they have the passion, skill, and strength to be stars in their designated sport. Partnering with LGBTQ+ athletes will not only enable you to directly connect with the community but can also bring positive sentiment to your brand. 37% of consumers feel positive about companies and brands that promote diversity and actively support LGBT communities in their advertising and marketing, according to professional LGBT network OUTstanding. These athletes have not only stepped up to be role models but they have also proven to be trendsetters as well. So, there are many positives to consider when thinking about working with one of our LGBTQ+ inclusive athletes.Here are just a few of the 90 athletes who mention LGBTQ+ on their social media feeds, and could be great partners for your brand.

Gus Kenworthy

Gus Kenworthy is a British-American freestyle skier, actor, and influencer. Representing Great Britain in the 2014 Sochi Olympics he won the silver medal in men's Slopestyle, and a gold for halfpipe in the Calgary World Cup. He has also won a bronze medal in the X games Slopestyle event in France, and has a long track record of strong performances in various competitions. Kenworthy has also spoken about being an openly gay professional athlete where he has been quoted saying, "I want to be the guy who comes out, wins s--- and is like, I'm taking names."

Abby Dunkin

Abby (Abigail) Dunkin is a 3.5 wheelchair basketball player who has won the gold for Team USA in the 2015 Parapan American Games, the 2016 Paralympics, and the 2019 Women's U25 Wheelchair World Championship. Dunkin is another athlete who has spoken about how sport helped her to find her identity where sh said, "Being in that atmosphere with coaches who were so supportive and teammates who were so supportive made me feel like I could do it. So wheelchair basketball, for me at least, helped me to come out publicly and be okay with myself. And I was lucky to have loving family and friends who supported me."

Jorden Hall

Jorden Hall

Jorden Hall is a nationally ranked track and field Canadian athlete who competes regularly and has won the gold in the BCSS Women's Heptathalon. Hall is still an young athlete but has proven to have a lot of potential, including a possible future with Team Canada for an Olympics. She has been open about her relationship with an American hair stylist, and is very active on social media, highlighting her training and showing her playful side on TikTok.

Josh Dixon

Josh Dixon

Josh Dixon has had the opportunity to be involved in sport as both an athlete and an owner. As an athlete Dixon has trained at the Olympic Training Center, having won multiple medals at the Winter Cup for his floor exercise and vault. He is now a minority owner of a women's professional soccer team where he works to promote female athletes and sports. In addition to all this he has voiced his strong feelings about his role in the community and sport by saying, “I realized I have an obligation, a responsibility to say, “It’s okay to be gay in our sport.” Ultimately, it’s about your gymnastics, whether you’re worthy to be on the team or in the sport.”

Janelly Farias

Janelly Farias is an openly gay American-born Mexican soccer player, who has played for the Mexican National Team, LA Galaxy OC, and Guadalajara.  Additionally, Farias was a Commentator/Analyst for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup for Telemundo and has plans to be a part of the next World Cup as well. In addition to her career on the pitch Farias has been outspoken about the state of women's sport in Mexico and has become more involved behind the scenes as well. “Megan Rapinoe is an idol. I really admire her, I admire what she’s doing,” said Farias. “I think the whole world can learn from the social activism that the US women’s national team is doing, and in an ideal world, we would do the same here in Mexico.”

Sue Bird

Sue Bird is a Three-Time WNBA Champion who currently plays for the Seattle Storm, has won four Olympic gold medals, participated in four FIBA World Cups, has been selected to eleven WNBA All-Star teams and eight All-WNBA teams. Bird has also been voted the WNBA's top 15 Players of All Time and into the WNBA Top 20@20. In 2017 Bird publicly came out and announced her relationship with Megan Rapinoe from the USWNT. Since going public Bird has become more vocal and a former teammate, Swin Cash, says, "Sue and 'controversy' never mixed. She wasn't going to say certain things in the media. ... Now, when you talk about diversity or inclusion or racial inequality or sexism or other hot-button topics, she's going to give it to you how she sees it. I love and respect that about her."

Tasha Curro

Tasha Curro

Tasha Curro is an obstacle racer who has ranked 59th at the World Championship Spartan race. She not only competes regularly, winning a variety of medals, but she now also cheers on her stepson who has recently joined her by competing in a Spartan Kids race.

Liam Broady

Liam Broady is the No. 5 ranked tennis player in Britain, who has won the Boy's Doubles at Wimbledon and Australian Open and currently plays in the ATP Tour (professional circuit). Broady continues to improve and has recently made lifestyle changes that seem to be expediting his rise in the rankings. In addition to this he stands up in defense of the LGBTQ+ athlete's

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Why Female Soccer and USWNT Players Are Great Athletes to Sponsor

May 28, 2020 2:25:23 PM / by Rachel Beran posted in influencer marketing, sports, women in sports, athlete marketing, soccer

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A combined 1.12 billion people around the world watched the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup tournament. In addition, more than 260 million viewers watched as the USWNT team played with confidence, strength and unity in a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands to seal their fate as 2019 World Cup winners. The team and players have garnered respect and admiration from fans across the world and continue to prove why they deserve it: One of the many reasons why these athletes make great sponsorship partners.

Authenticity Drives Engagement

The players’ success on the field, alongside their willingness to take a stand for what they believe in, has made them prominent and popular figures. Their large and loyal fan bases admire their authenticity and have an appreciation and trust in the honest content and messages they put out. While these athletes may not have the same social media following as players like Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, engagement amongst their own followers is very high. A sponsored post like this (shown below) from OpenSponsorship and USWNT athlete Julie Ertz is highly authentic to who she is and what she values (there are shirts on the quilt highlighting her career and her husband Zack Ertz’s and even a shirt that promotes gender equality). Posts like this one from Ertz are much more likely to drive engagement and higher brand recognition and sales. 

Julie Ertz holding a quilt of her different soccer jerseys and shirts.

Matching Athletes to Brands Through Shared Values

Additionally, these athletes are amazing role models for women of all ages, especially young women like myself and members of the LGBTQ community. They consistently break down gender stereotypes by being the confident, skilled players that they are and refusing to accept the status quo when it is unjust. These athletes’ success on the field is undeniably incredible. Combined with their willingness to stand up for what they believe in and be their true authentic selves, they are the perfect candidates for sponsorships: Especially as more and more brands are looking to make statements about their values and are using athletes to help share this message. Due to their willingness to speak up for what they believe in, even if that means being controversial at times, USWNT players and female soccer players are the perfect athletes to partner with to accomplish this.

The Ability to Genuinely Connect with Brands and Consumers Both Through Sports and on a Personal Level

As brands are increasingly trying to reach consumers through social media channels, they sometimes struggle to make the connections between the influencer and the brand feel authentic in the eyes of the consumer. Athletes such as female soccer and USWNT players who attracted their followers based on their success as athletes and who they are on a personal level, are able to make connections with brands and their followers based on the fact that they are athletes and also who they are and what they stand for on a personal level. For example, Rose Lavelle can connect with Nike as a brand and its customers based on the fact that she is a soccer player and their clothes improve her performance. However, she can also connect to Nike and its customers in an even more meaningful way through shared values of female empowerment. This makes partnerships with brands feel more genuine coming from a USWNT player or female soccer player and is likely to drive higher engagement. 

If you would like to find out how your brand can partner with these amazing OpenSponsorship athletes, you can email us at info@opensponsorship.com or check out our website OpenSponsorship.com

 

 

 

 

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Top 10 Instagram Influencers Who Are Mothers

Apr 22, 2020 4:59:41 PM / by Zack Smith posted in influencer marketing, influencers, instagram, sports, sports marketing, sports marketing campaigns, women in sports, affiliate marketing, mother's day

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In a few weeks, families around the United States will be celebrating Mother's Day and thanking their mothers for all of the sacrifices they make every day. In the sports world, female athletes juggle their athletic careers with their duties as mothers, often even having to take time off from their sport during and after pregnancy to care for their children and get their bodies ready to go back to competing.

For this reason, athletes who are mothers can be the perfect influencers to include in your brand's influencer marketing campaign around Mother's Day. Read below for OpenSponsorship's Top 10 Instagram influencers who are athletes and mothers and about the sacrifices they have made for their families. They deserve all the love coming their way this Mother's Day!

10. Glory Johnson

Glory is an 8-year WNBA veteran currently playing for the Atlanta Dream. In 2015, coming off of her second straight All-Star appearance, she announced that she was pregnant and would be sitting out the entire 2015 season. In October 2015, 4 months before her due date, Glory gave birth to her twin girls Ava and Solei.

It is common for WNBA players to play internationally to make extra money during the WNBA offseason, and things were no different for Glory. When she was playing overseas in countries like Russia and China, her mother and sisters cared for her children. This was becoming increasingly difficult for Glory and, after two seasons of playing overseas after her daughters were born, she decided to return home.

Glory Johnson and her daughters Solei and Ava.
Glory and her children Solei, left, and Ava, right, in their bedroom (Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News) (Louis DeLuca/Staff Photographer)

In May 2018, Glory purchased her first house for her and her two two-year old daughters. In an interview with the Dallas News, Glory said, "Having to do it all by yourself is really, really tough. Pulling all-nighters trying to get everything done before the babies come was tough, especially through training camp, but it was all worth it." Glory set up bedrooms and a jungle-themed playroom for the girls, equipped with a projector on the wall, jungle green chairs, a grassy floor and a tree on the wall made of pool noodles, and, of course, a giant pink dollhouse. 

9. Montana De La Rosa

Montana De La Rosa and her husband Mark, both UFC fighters, are also parents to their 9-year-old daughter Zaylyn. Montana and Mark are the only married couple to be signed to UFC contracts at the same time, but that has taken anything away from their jobs as parents. Zaylyn is following in her parents' footsteps in the family business, too- she is currently the Texas state champion wrestler in the open division, which is nearly all boys.

Montana De La Rosa and her daughter Zaylyn.
Montana and her daughter Zaylyn preparing a snack. (Cooper Neill, ESPN)

Montana got pregnant with Zaylyn in high school and had to give up an opportunity to wrestle at Oklahoma City University, the 4-time consecutive national champions. She met Mark in 2014 when Zaylyn was 3 and got married two years ago. Their schedules are now mapped out entirely, full of responsibilities as both fighters and parents. In an interview with ESPN, Mark said, "She's a supermom. When I'm 100% into training, I come home and do house stuff here and there. She'll go into the gym and be a professional athlete. As soon as she's done at the gym, she puts her mom hat on. She's a good fighter, good wife, good mom." Montana made the decision to put her career on pause as only a teenager, which is tough to swallow for most that age. However, now, she couldn't be happier. Her career is on the rise, she has an incredible husband, and her daughter is poised to follow in her footsteps and have a career in the UFC as well.

8. Bec Rawlings

Bec Rawlings is an Australian MMA fighter and mother of two young boys. Her second was born just months before her first MMA fight in October 2011, leaving her balancing caring for her two young boys and training to begin her MMA career. On top of all this, Rawlings was also stuck in a physically abusive relationship with her now ex-husband.

Rawlings lost her first fight, but bounced back after that with five straight victories. After two years of hiding her abuse, Rawlings finally filed a police report in 2012 and made the decision to leave the relationship on Mother's Day of 2013. Her past only fueled the fire for her career, and she now lives safely and happily with her two boys.

7. Lauren Holiday

Lauren Holiday is a retired soccer player who played in the NWSL and represented the United States in the World Cup and the Olympics. She was a part of the World Cup-winning US team in 2015 and also won two gold medals with the Olympic team. In 2013, she married NBA star Jrue Holiday after the two met and started dating as students at UCLA.

Lauren and Jrue Holiday and their daughter Jrue.Lauren and Jrue showing love to their daughter. (Lauren Holiday/Instagram)

In 2016, shortly after Lauren's retirement from soccer and six months into her pregnancy, it was discovered that she had a benign brain tumor. She gave birth to her daughter, Jrue Tyler Holiday, in September and had the brain tumor removed one month later. After the tumor was discovered, her husband Jrue announced he would be taking a leave of absence to focus on the health of his family. In February, three months after her daughter was born and her surgery was complete, she posted a photo of her daughter on Instagram and said she "had never known suffering like (she) experienced the last six months." Three years later, the family is happy and healthy with their beautiful daughter.

6. Sanya Richards-Ross

Sanya Richards-Ross is a former Olympic track and field athlete who won four gold medals during her Olympic career. While training for the 2016 Olympics, she suffered a hamstring injury and announced her retirement shortly after.

Sanya Richards-Ross, her husband Aaron Ross, and their son Aaron II.
Sanya and her husband, Aaron, and son, Aaron II. (Sanya Richards-Ross/Instagram)

In college at the University of Texas, she began dating former NFL cornerback and 2-time Super Bowl champion Aaron Ross and the two eventually got married in 2010. Shortly after her retirement, Sanya and Aaron announced the birth of their son Aaron Jermaine Ross II and has spoken extensively about the incredible positive impact that having a son has had on their lives.

5. Jennie Finch

Jennie Finch is a retired softball star who was a three-time All American in college at Arizona and a two-time medalist in the Olympics with the US National Team. Her husband Casey is also a former MLB pitcher. The two are parents to three children, sons Ace and Diesel and daughter Paisley.

Jennie's first son, Ace, was born in 2007. One year later, Finch competed in the Olympics with the US National Team and posted a 2-0 record during the competition where the US won a silver medal. This would be her last Olympic appearance, but Finch's career continued on in the National Pro Fastpitch softball league until 2010. Finch absolutely dominated in his career here, posting a 35-8 record and a 1.08 ERA.

4. Cat Zingano

Cat Zingano is a UFC fighter and the mother of one son, Brayden. In 2013, the undefeated Zingano was set to fight champion Ronda Rousey for a chance at the bantamweight title. However, a torn ACL suffered during a workout stripped this opportunity away from her and left her with a long road to recovery ahead.

Months later, in January 2014, her husband Mauricio was found dead near their home. Tragedy seemed to keep following Zingano, and eventually she decided to spend time in Thailand to recover both mentally and physically. Away from the bright lights and constant media attention, she was able to get back into shape and recover from past tragedy.

She was surprisingly released from the UFC, but signed a deal with Bellator in August 2019 to begin fighting there. Even when things seemed like they couldn't possibly be worse, Zingano stayed motivated and has a fresh start ahead of her.

3. Candace Parker

Candace Parker's name has been in the spotlight since her college days, being dubbed the player that could transcend women's basketball and become the face of the WNBA. She did not disappoint in her rookie year, taking home the Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards in the same season. Then, 6 months later, Parker made the announcement that she was pregnant.

This, of course, meant that her career would be on pause. After giving birth to her daughter Lailaa, Parker returned to the court just 53 days later and didn't miss a beat. Nearly 11 years later, she doesn't regret a single second of it.

Candace Parker and her daughter Lailaa Parker.
Candace and her daughter Lailaa. (Willy Sanjuan/Associated Press)

In 2016, Parker was surprisingly left off the Olympic basketball roster. When coach Dawn Staley took over the program, she talked to Parker and tried to lure her back to be on the 2020 roster, but Parker refused. She told the Daily News, “I understand the responsibility of it now, later in life when somebody does my daughter wrong, or she doesn’t feel that she was respected, I want her to have the ability and the amount of respect for herself to understand when it’s time to move on."

2. Sydney Leroux

Sydney Leroux is a star soccer player for the US Women's National Team and the Orlando Pride of the NWSL. Her and her husband Dom Dwyer, another professional soccer player, welcomed their second child Roux in June of 2019. Less than one month later, Leroux was back on the field practicing with the Pride and in September, she appeared in her first match since giving birth.

She was visibly emotional on the field after the match as she was joined by her 3-month-old daughter and later described the moment in a heartfelt post on Instagram. The caption read, "I love this game. This past year was filled with so many ups and downs but I made a promise to myself that I would come back. No matter how hard that would be. It’s been a long road but I did it. 3 months and one day after I gave birth to my baby girl.‬"

1. Bethany Hamilton

Bethany Hamilton is no stranger to overcoming obstacles. She has been in the spotlight since 2003 when, as a 13-year-old, she was the victim of a shark attack while surfing that nearly took her life. She survived, but lost her left arm as a result.

Surfer Bethany Hamilton and her family.

She was committed to continuing to surf and returned to competition in 2004, where she placed 5th in the NSSA National Competition in Australia. Her career continued into 2016 and she competed in, and won, several more events. In 2015, she and her husband Adam gave birth to her first son, Tobias, and later in 2018 they welcomed their second son Wesley to the world.

 

To learn more about these incredible athletes and many more and how you can sponsor them, contact an OpenSponsorship rep or send us an email at info@opensponsorship.com.

 

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Athletes on YouTube

Apr 2, 2020 7:33:30 PM / by Zack Smith posted in social media, sponsoring athletes, sponsorships, sports marketing, sports sponsorships, women in sports, Parterships, trends, alex bregman, youtube, serge ibaka

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              Often times, professional athletes are known more for what they do in their given sport than for what they do in their personal lives. They spend so much of their time in the spotlight and they make more headlines for the accomplishments on the field. However, off the field, these athletes are the same as their fans. They have their own interests and hobbies that they enjoy doing in their free time, they crack the same jokes with their teammates and friends, and they binge-watch the same Netflix shows as the rest of us.

              One easy way to share this side of them with their fans is through YouTube, an already popular platform for influencer marketing. Athletes on YouTube are able to share videos on any given topic and these videos can be much longer than those on other platforms like TikTok, where shorter clips are more common. Countless athletes already use the platform for a variety of different types of content, with one popular topic being video games. Several different star athletes are friends with professional video game streamers and collaborate with these streamers to create content. Trevor May, a Minnesota Twins pitcher, gained popularity as a content creator playing Fortnite and becoming friendly with some of the game’s biggest influencers, including Tyler “Ninja” Blevins. He has a YouTube channel with about 25 thousand subscribers and regularly posts content. Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster owns a YouTube channel as well and is known as an avid gamer, so much so that he is a member of the gaming organization FaZe Clan. While he does not strictly post gaming videos on his YouTube channel, he has posted videos of him playing with several different celebrities and athletes on YouTube.

              The beauty of athletes on YouTube, though, is that they are free to post anything they would like. Serge Ibaka of the Toronto Raptors has a show on his channel titled “How Hungry Are You?” where he brings on teammates and friends, interviews them, and serves them some of the most bizarre foods you can think of—lamb brains, cow hearts, pig heads, you name it! Pacers guard Victor Oladipo has a channel where he posts vlogs of his daily life, which included a behind-the-scenes look at his long comeback from injury that he titled “UNBREAKABLE”. Even Warriors superstar Stephen Curry has a channel where he has posted content ranging from interviews of other celebrities, fun challenges with other content creators, and his recent Q&A with Dr. Anthony Fauci about COVID-19.

              The style of content on YouTube and the diversity of the content that athletes on YouTube post creates a great opportunity for brands to get involved through influencer marketing. YouTube videos are very interactive and feature the athlete influencers talking directly to their fans, allowing products to be much more integrated into the content. Does your company sell food or cooking products? Sponsor a video where a portion shows the athlete cooking and using your product! Makeup or clothing? Sponsor a vlog where the athlete shows themselves getting ready to go out, featuring your product as part of their look! The opportunities with influencer marketing on YouTube are endless.

              On OpenSponsorship, we are proud to have plenty of our athletes on YouTube. Astros third baseman Alex Bregman has a channel where he posts baseball content, MMA fighter Karyn Bryant has a channel where she posts her podcast MMA Heat with UFC fighter Alan Jouban, and paintballer Marc Sutherland has the largest paintball channel on YouTube- and these are just three of many OpenSponsorship athletes on YouTube! Many of these videos garner tens to hundreds of thousands of views, and these impressions are more valuable than just a quick look on Instagram where followers may just skim the caption and keep scrolling. YouTube is already a popular platform for brands to sponsor other influencers and content creators, and the same opportunity is there with athletes! Athlete influencers are trusted by their fans and will listen to their opinions on a product. Talk to an OpenSponsorship rep today to take advantage of this opportunity with athletes on YouTube, or send us an email at info@opensponsorship.com. And for some tips about influencer marketing, check out our blog about how to launch a successful influencer marketing campaign!

 

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Feminine Products and Sponsorship

Aug 23, 2016 10:16:44 AM / by Katie Vella posted in sponsorships, Uncategorized, women in sports, Female products

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Recently, OpenSponsorship was in the middle of creating a deal between a female athlete and what we thought was a makeup wipe brand. It was only when we got a call from the athlete’s agent that we realized that the brand, SweetSpot labs, makes cleaning wipes and soaps for vaginas, not faces. That led us to think about where feminine products fit in to the sponsorship world.

The Problem

Feminine hygiene products are conspicuously absent in the world of sports sponsorships. Female athletes promote products from clothes, to drinks, to yogurt. But tampons and pads, basic necessities for women, don’t get the same publicity as other products. They’re not “niche” products by any means, considering 50 percent of the population uses them. Yet they are still very infrequently advertised, and even less frequently sponsored by athletes.

In 1995, Tampax volunteered to become the new title sponsor of the WTA, offering more money than any other brand. Even though the WTA was struggling financially at the time and needed the support, but they turned Tampax down because of the stigma around periods. The WTA didn’t want to make a joke out of itself.

Recently women’s sports have grown immensely, with the inception of the Women’s National Basketball Association in 1996, the Women’s Professional Soccer League in 1997, the Canadian Women’s Hockey League in 2007, the National Women’s Soccer League in 2012, and most recently the National Women’s Hockey League in 2015. However, sponsorship of feminine hygiene products has not grown proportionately. Very few big name athletes are partnered with feminine hygiene brands. Serena Williams partnered with Tampax in 2009, and that’s just about it.

Serena Williams partnership with Tampax

Working to change the game

The tampon and pad company Always is working stop the stigma surrounding periods and to promote confidence in girls and women. They launched their #LikeAGirl campaign, reclaiming the phrase that is so often said as an insult, and they are using it to try and stop girls from dropping out of sports. They’re not afraid to air commercials often and during prime times. While watching the Olympics in Canada recently, I saw the commercial with soccer goalie Stephanie Labbé (below), at least three times a day. Another example of Always supporting women in sports and normalizing menstruation.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-QyrOc8Xsc

 

More women are playing sports than ever. They are role models and cultural icons. They are on billboard and TV screens. It’s about time both men and women stopped being embarrassed about menstruation. There’s no reason athletes shouldn’t be sponsored by feminine hygiene products as often as any other brand.

Top 3 Fantasy Partnerships

Who we think would be great together  

Western New York Flash of the NWSL and Tampax

Tampax got its start in the north-eastern United States with its first factory in New Jersey, not far from where the Western New York Flash play.

Asian Tour (golf) and Unicharm

Unicharm is a Japanese hygiene product company, the sole tampon/pad company in japan. Partnering with the Asian Tour would strengthen and spread the brand name while helping grow the Tour.

World of Dance (modern dance series) and Playtex Sport

Playtex sport is specifically designed to provide extra protection for active women. Modern dance puts Playtex to the ultimate test, and would build their brand as the product that can get a woman through anything.

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