It is difficult to stand out on social media in 2019 - we all know this. As we discussed in this piece, brands are projected to spend more than $32 billion on social media platforms this year and already spent $442 million on influencer marketing in the second quarter of 2019 alone. To say it is difficult to get your message across may actually be an enormous understatement.

This is where OpenSponsorship comes into the fold. By partnering with athletes, you are not simply selecting just another “influencer” to work with, but truly aligning your brand with someone who has a following because they have become one of - or the best - at what they do. And not only are there more than 5,700 athletes at your disposable through the OS platform, but given the seasonality of sport, there are clearly defined strategies to leverage specific times of the year to not just generate authentic awareness but to capitalize on key moments.

Take the NBA season as an example. Many of OpenSponsorship’s brands, two of which we will highlight here, took advantage of the beginning of the basketball season to attach themselves to the extra buzz that comes along with the start of the year hoopla.


The online bookmaker is ripe for athlete partnerships, as sports is endemic to their business. It made for a perfect OpenSponsorship match.

PointsBet began prepping for the NBA season by using Allen Iverson, basketball legend and brand ambassador to film an ad spot. The commercial included him turning the clock back eighteen years and playfully executing his step over - an act that he became famous for in the 2001 NBA Finals.

Iverson then tweeted out the clip and once he did, PointsBet already had its deals on OpenSponsorship lined up to ensure proper amplification of the original tweet. By using former NBAers Brian Scalabrine and Caron Butler to quote tweet it with their take on the ad and their excitement in anticipation of the season, the brand was able to put themselves in a position to solidify themselves at the forefront of bettors minds as they look toward the year. They also worked with retired NFL running back Brandon Jacobs, crossing over into football to promote the NBA season.

Yet, it wasn't just the preparation and their selections to boost awareness that made the campaign successful, but the platform chosen as well. While much of influencer marketing is taking place on Instagram, the epicenter of sports conversation is happening on Twitter. The social media giant has even garnered the description as "the best sports bar in America." 

“For operators in the sports betting industry, it is absolutely crucial to generate buzz while welcoming in the start of every league’s regular season,” Pat Eichner, Director of Communications for PointsBet told us. "While there’s a natural opportunity for all brands to insert themselves into the conversation, properly doing so is still an intricate process that requires vision and strategy. In that vein, the OpenSponsorship team has been fantastic partners for PointsBet, helping us fully develop initiatives and garner as much visibility as possible across NBA and sportcentric social conversations.”


The millennial-focused skin care brand is known for its selfie-produced content, encouraging actual users of the product to showcase the benefits in their own authentic way. Therefore, it made perfect sense for us to look into the NBA, which, out of the "big four" sports in the U.S., has the youngest fan base.

Utilizing the platform’s demographic data and social insights, they identified a number of potential partners before closing a deal with 19-year-old rookie Jalen Lecque of the Phoenix Suns. Lecque’s social demographics include a 67 percent male following between the ages of 18-24, ensuring his content - which, creatively, included a range of deliverables from IGTV videos to Instagram stories and tweets - which would reach the right audience on multiple social platforms at different times.

While these two brands decided to wisely dedicate resources to NBA campaigns, there are entirely different and constant ways to integrate athletes and sport into your marketing mix. Just in the next few months, there are brands on OpenSponsorship working with marathon runners around all of the races taking place (Berlin, Chicago, New York, etc.), with NFL players now that the football season is in full swing (while also beginning discussions around the Super Bowl), and much more. 

With athletes, sure, you're getting established social influencers, but you're also receiving an unmatched avenue to authentically jump into relevant conversations.

Matt Hochberg

Written by Matt Hochberg

Learn more about influencer marketing and athlete sponsorship by subscribing today.