Businesses across the country now have an extensive pool of potential brand ambassadors

The recent ruling allowing college athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness (NIL) has created an abundance of new opportunities for a group of young adults previously unable to cash in on their skills until they entered the professional ranks.

This ruling was handed down by the NCAA, which breaks away from decades of restricting and even penalizing athletes for making money off their likeness.

Though the new NIL rules certainly open doors for the athletes, it has also created a new generation of influencers for companies to utilize through brand deals and sponsorships to promote their name and boost sales.

Prominent college athletes are some of the most recognizable stars in the country and many have hundreds of thousands of followers across their social media platforms. With that large following, athletes can become highly impactful brand ambassadors that bolster a company’s marketing and strategic communication campaign.

Influencers eager to jump into the revenue stream

When the NIL rule change went into effect on July 1, 2021, athletes across the country raced to their social media accounts to let businesses know they were “open for business” and many were quickly signed to endorsement deals across a number of industries.

One of the most lucrative deals was inked by Hercy Miller, son of rapper Master P. The 19-year-old Tennessee State basketball commit cashed in by inking a four-year brand ambassador deal with technology company Web Apps America worth $2 million.

Impact national and locally

In this new, unchartered landscape of advertising, national brands are sure to go after the biggest names in college sports. But local businesses in big college cities are likely to get in on the action as well.

For towns like Tuscaloosa, South Bend and State College, college sports are the lifeblood of the community. Players from Alabama, Notre Dame and Penn State who might not have a national appeal will still have local opportunities to benefit from their NIL and create revenue streams that were, at one time, unthinkable.

Take a second to breathe

Although it feels like a flood gate has opened, it’s important that both athletes and businesses assess the waters before taking the plunge.

For the athletes, it’s key to get a deal that will help build your personal brand as much as it helps your bank account. Rushing into a low-visibility deal that offers moderate compensation could provide short-term monetary relief, but the ultimate marketing goal is to have one endorsement lead to another.

For businesses, it would be easy to get swept up in the excitement of signing several popular public figures. But before shelling out big-time bucks for a college athlete, you should consider the following:

  • How much does that player’s endorsement impact your company?
  • What kind of reach does the player have?
  • Does the player reach the audience your company is targeting?
  • Are there any off-the-field/court risks associated with working with a college athlete?
  • If that athlete does something that negatively impacts your brand, do you have a crisis communications plan in place to mitigate the damage?

Contact our team of brand and communications strategists to develop and implement the most efficient and effective marketing strategies for evolving your company.