New Collegiate Sponsorship Opportunity: Name, Image, Likeness and Influence

What Brand Owners Need to Know About Sponsoring Student-Athletes

The Future of Sponsorships

Savvy marketers are learning that the true value in engaging with student-athletes comes from their offline and online influence. In the latest installment of its Sponsorship Accountability series, MASB, the Marketing Accountability Standards Board, asserts that national, regional and hyper-local promotional opportunities exist for marketers willing to do the work now to secure relationships with student-athletes and tap into their networks of followers.

Beginning August 2021, a new and potentially valuable long-term sponsorship opportunity is scheduled to be afforded to brands – NIL (name, image and likeness). In just one year, active college athletes will be allowed to profit commercially, to some degree, from their athletic fame and prowess.

However, the true value prominent college athletes bring to brands is their influence, which likely brings more value than merely their name or visage. Perhaps a more appropriate designation would be NILI – Name Image Likeness and Influence.

Too much of the NIL conversation to date has come solely from a legal perspective. The O’Bannon case has been a major catalyst, but it fails to address the missing "I" for influence, more important than ever in the current age of social media prevalence.

As the drumbeat of Fall football postponement grows louder, the power of players as influencers becomes clearer. Trevor Lawrence, the highly decorated Clemson QB, changed the conversation about whether Fall football should be played. Shouldn’t he be able to monetize his platform? Power has shifted to the individual due to social media. For athletes, follower counts on social media can be as important of a factor in endorsement deals as good game statistics.

NIL can go beyond individuals to fund sports and teams in a time of the COVID-19 pandemic, cancellation of most of college sports during the 2020 calendar year, dramatic revenue shortfalls, and resulting budget cuts. It also builds a bridge to future employment and provides a good source of internships for student-athletes, who are often handicapped in this regard.

In the cash-strapped world of athletic department budgets, revenue sharing between individual players, teams and the athletic department may represent a new and desperately needed source of revenue. If such relationships lessen the need for overall school sponsorship, they may end up being a drag on athletic department revenues across the country.

The NCAA’s new NIL regulations will be an enormous new opportunity for marketers.

The Future of Sponsorships will be the main topic of MASB Summer Summit Session 2, a free, online event happening Sept. 17, 2020; 12:30 PM ET. To register, visit MASB Events.

Source: MASB (Marketing Accountability Standards Board)

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Categories: Marketing

Tags: college sports, NIL, right of publicity, sponsorship accountability, sponsorship marketing