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    Sports-Related Endorsements are a Win for Your Brand

    Sports-Related Endorsements are a Win for Your Brand

    For some 30 years, I’ve been in and around the sports media landscape in Arizona. Like any industry, the sports media business has its positives and negatives. We’re blessed to have so many opportunities with four major sports franchises and a major college athletic program located in our market. We’re also blessed to have some of the best people in all of sports working either with one of the teams or covering them. 


    This provides every active brand in Phoenix the opportunity to enhance its marketing efforts with a consumer-influencing endorsement from one or more of our local sport’s media personalities. To be clear here, I’m not talking about active athletes affiliated with sports teams. I’m talking specifically about local sports media personalities. 


    But just where do you begin? 


    Oftentimes when you invest with a sports broadcast entity or a sports team it will be inclusive of support from an on-air personality. Usually, this comes with a manageable talent fee which is sometimes justifiable and sometimes not. There are times when you can negotiate this and times when you can’t. 


    I do want to clarify that there’s a difference between support from someone affiliated with the broadcast and a full-blown endorsement that is more prominent in your marketing efforts and collateral assets. I advocate for both with a heavy lean towards using sports media professionals in full-blown endorsements over simple reads. 


    The reason I like sports media personalities is driven by the fact that they are well thought of, they understand business, and they appreciate the opportunity to pad their earnings. Here are a few things to consider when looking to affiliate your brand with a local sports personality. I’ll also include a few people I think are underutilized for the talent and impact they can bring to bear on your advertising message.

    How Do I Identify The Right Person to Endorse My Brand?

    Let’s look at this empirically. Your first point of consideration should be your overall marketing budget. If you spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in a given quarter then perhaps Michael Jordon is on the table … if you don’t, let’s look at affordable, effective endorsement opportunities. 


    Your second consideration should be your target audience. Who is your customer? Who do you want to be your customer? If your company markets to M35-54 who speaks best to that demo? There are other psychographic considerations to make here as well. Depending on your brand, certain sports media types may be a better fit for your audience.  


    Next, let’s look at what media you use to engage your customers (and potential customers). Where do you spend your marketing dollars? Television? Digital media? Radio? Your answer helps to dictate your best sports media endorsement opportunity. 


    Lastly, let’s consider availability. It’s important to know that the most prolific people in this space may already have endorsements that preclude them from working with you. Others may be affiliated with stations or teams that don’t allow them to endorse a brand that they don’t do business with. For example, Luis Gonzales works with the Diamondbacks who have a deal with Gila River Casino. Even though he doesn’t endorse the casino he would still need to honor his employment relationship with the team and would therefore be off-limits to endorse a different in-market casino. Make sense?

    Here Are a Few Local Sports Media Personalities to Consider

    There is a lot of opportunity in this market to find the right sports media personality for your brand. Here are a few names with my thoughts on what I see as their advantages. 


    Kevin Ray – Kevin is affiliated locally with the Phoenix Suns broadcast and nationally affiliated with the Dallas Cowboys as well. Kevin lives here in Phoenix and is well known for his great voice, good looks, and professionalism. Whereas he does some endorsements here locally, he’s readily available for video or voice work. 


    Jody Jackson – Jody is well known for her role at FSA and Bally’s. She is also extremely well-liked and respected in the sports media world. One of the key advantages to considering Jody for any endorsement work would be how endeared she is to the market. Whether you know Jody personally or professionally, you get the same genuine person.


    Ron Wolfley – I’ve had the great fortune to hear Ron speaking multiple times. He’s a good man with a good story, period. His affiliation with Bonneville/AZ Sports means he’s in demand and he’s pretty active on the endorsement front. Very few sports media professionals have the passion and energy that he brings to the table. 


    Tom Chambers – Tom is a member of one of the most popular Phoenix Suns squads of all time. He has been working on air for the team now for over a decade. He’s comfortable in front of the camera and the microphone. To my knowledge, he does do endorsements outside of his relationship with the Suns. Tom can be a little more opinionated than others but that doesn’t keep me from looking at him as a great sports media endorsement option.


    Todd Walsh – Todd did great work for FOX Sports Arizona (Bally’s) until the station went belly up due to mismanagement. Todd is a consummate professional and has a voice that is both unique and engaging. To my knowledge, Todd does very little, if any, endorsement work as his reputation for in-depth sports reporting supersedes his other talents. 


    Tim Healy – One of the true good guys in the sports media landscape. I worked with Tim during my time at ASU and I can say few, if any, play-by-play announcers know their way around an endorsement better than Tim. I never had to worry about him misrepresenting any of our clients in the heat of a broadcast. He was also great with clients when they traveled with us or made a visit to the booth at Sun Devil Stadium. 


    Luis Gonzales – I don’t know anyone who has adapted from a local hometown sports hero to a consummate business professional like Luis. Well-liked and easy to work with, Luis is a great choice for a sports media endorsement. His affiliation with the Diamondbacks lends itself to some exclusivity here which may preclude him from doing much that doesn’t involve the team. 


    Larry Fitzgerald – Certainly one of Arizona’s most beloved sports heroes, Larry would be on the premium, high-end of sports media endorsement deals. Deservedly, he would probably come with a fairly steep endorsement fee but to me, he’s worth every penny as he is a solid person whose heart is as big as his hands. 


    Mike Muraco – Admittedly, Mike is a good friend. I competed with him when we were both young reps at competing stations. Mike has built a great career and reputation with his show on FOX Sports Radio. He handles endorsements well and beyond his internal show opportunities is probably underutilized in the market. 


    Lisa Charisse Matthews – I want to say that Lisa was an intern for us at FOX Sports when she first graduated from ASU. Whereas she may not have the resume of others on this list she certainly has the talent to be a great choice for a product endorsement. If you’re looking for energy and charisma she’s a good choice to represent your brand. 


    Jeff Van Rapphorst – Jeff has business savvy and talent when it comes to delivering a branding endorsement. He also carries an air of honesty and approachability that many of his stature don’t possess. I would also characterize him as ‘off the endorsement radar’ as he carries a full-time job and does a great job as a color commentator for ASU football. Definitely worthy of consideration, especially if your brand has an affiliation with ASU. 


    Dan Manuchi – Dan is Mike’s radio partner on their afternoon show on FOX Sports Radio. As a former athlete and a long-time radio personality, Dan carries himself well both on and off the show. Like Jeff, he’s knowledgeable about business and would represent your brand well.

    Utilizing a Sports Media Professional Enhances Your Brand’s Image

    These are but a few of what I would characterize as great people to align your brand with. I would add that pretty much every on-air personality at Bonneville / AZ Sports is worthy of consideration when it comes to providing your brand with a local sports media-driven endorsement. Admittedly, I don’t know if hiring a John Gambodora or Sarah Cassell would come with a purchase requirement with the station but I do think they have a lot of opportunities with their deeply talented staff. 


    Understandably, I can’t list them all but these men and women represent great opportunities for your brand to add credibility through affiliation as well as talent and professionalism when it comes to your advertising efforts. 


    Note too that these endorsements do not have to be associated with a sports marketing campaign. Whereas it certainly makes sense to, you don’t have to limit your relationship with these personalities to a campaign with a particular team or station. Each has a broad range of appeal and can be utilized for general market advertising campaigns. Know that you’ll be engaging a professional who can articulate the value of your brand in a big way. 


    Lastly, this is not a paid endorsement of any kind nor do I have a representative business relationship with any of these sports media professionals. I did work with some, if not most of the people I listed but my true purpose was simply to generate ideas for you to consider. That being said, if your brand is contemplating the use of a sports media personality for an endorsement and you don’t know where to begin, feel free to contact me at ed.olsen@linedrivesportsmarketing or call my cell at 602.284.6722 … I’d be glad to give you further advice and even make an introduction!

    About the author: Ed Olsen is the CEO of Line Drive Sports Marketing. He is a former adjunct professor at Arizona State University and has lots of opinions on all things sports.

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