The Do's and Don'ts of Working with Professional Athletes

When it comes to marketing your brand, working with professional athletes can be a great way to reach a new and engaged audience. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when planning your campaign. Here are the do’s and don’ts of working with professional athletes:

When Working with Professional Athletes:


Research the athlete: Make sure you know who you’re working with and what they represent. Be sure that their values align with your own and that they have a similar audience to what you’re trying to reach. For example, an athlete who is known for being outspoken and controversial may not be the best fit for a family-friendly brand.The Do's and Don'ts of Working with Professional AthletesSet clear goals: Both you and the athlete should have a good understanding of what you hope to achieve from the sponsorship. What do you want the athlete to do for you? What do you want the audience to take away from the campaign? Create a campaign that is authentic and relevant to the athlete. Don’t just use them as a spokesperson or endorser without thinking about what they stand for.
Work with a sports sponsorship expert: Working with an experienced sports sponsorship expert can help you navigate through this overwhelming process and find the right athlete for your brand. Especially if you’re not familiar with how to work with professional athletes, it can be helpful to work with a company like OpenSponsorship who is. We will be able to help connect you with the right athletes, have transparent rates, and create a plan that will help achieve your goals.


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DON’Ts When Working with Professional Athletes:

Set unrealistic expectations: Sponsoring an athlete is not a guaranteed way to sell more products or services. Keep your expectations realistic and remember that it will take time and effort to see real results. 

Work with the wrong athlete: Steer clear of working with an athlete simply because they are popular or have a lot of followers on social media. Make sure their values align with your brand and that they will be able to authentically promote your product or service. Having the right fit is crucially important.

Ambush an athlete: Ambush marketing is where a brand tries to capitalize on the exposure of another brand without their permission or endorsement. This can create negative associations for both brands and can lead to legal troubles.

The Do's and Don'ts of Working with Professional Athletes

Give unclear or vague guidelines. Don't expect an athlete to endorse your product or service without any input from you. An endorsement from an athlete is highly valuable, so you should be prepared to give them some input on what you would like them to say or do.

Ignore red flags: If an athlete has a history of bad behavior or if their values don't align with yours, it's best to steer clear. You don't want any negative press associated with your campaign.

The Do's and Don'ts of Working with Professional Athletes

Closing Thoughts on Working with Professional Athletes

With all these tips in mind, brands can now work with professional athletes to create successful and authentic marketing campaigns. At OpenSponsorship, we make sports sponsorship easy by allowing brands to post campaigns for athletes to apply to. You can also search our roster of 15,000+ athletes to find the athlete that's the right fit for your campaign. Sign up for free HERE to simplify all your athlete marketing needs!



Jayson is a content marketer at OpenSponsorship. He often shares insights about how brands can effectively work with athletes on marketing campaigns.