Friday, March 28, 2014

Athlete Endorsements - Who Would You Want Representing Your Brand?

It's no surprise that companies, brands and products love to gain exposure within the realm of professional sports through athlete endorsements.  Having their logo displayed on a golfers hat or polo for example, provides a subtle yet powerful link between that specific athlete and the accompanying brand.  This strategy makes it easy for sports fans to associate the fame, talent, and glamour displayed by the athlete with the sponsoring company.  "If Masters Champion Zach Johnson is wearing the Transamerica logo, they must be a great company!"

Athlete endorsements are an interesting concept... If you were a professional golfer, who's logo would you want displayed on your apparel? Would you sell out to the highest bidder, or would you look for companies with a specific brand appeal.  On the flip side of the coin, if you were a large company, which professional golfer would you want representing your organization?  Is it enough that the golfer is in the top 50 world rankings, or should their off the course lifestyle also be a determining factor?  Of course, it's got to be a good fit for both parties, the company and the athlete, but what criteria should be considered?

Based on my experience in business, marketing and brand development, I think it's crucial for a company to find an athlete that is in sync with their corporate values, motto, morals and code of ethics, both on and off the golf course. For companies looking for a great athlete representative and advocate for their brand/image, I would argue that the most important quality to look for is servant leadership.  As opposed to traditional leadership, which generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power, servant leaders share the power, cultivate a culture of trust, act with humility, and help others develop and perform to the best of their ability.  Wondering what this looks like in the real world?

One example that comes to mind of a great pairing is that of Zach Johnson and Transamerica.  As one of the world's leading financial services companies, Transamerica provides insurance, investments and more to 19.5 million customers.  As such, when looking for athlete endorsement opportunities, they want someone who's behaviour is in sync with their vision of 'Transform Tomorrow®'.  Someone who not only has a strong moral foundation, superior athletic ability, but also someone who is  focused and involved with creating a better tomorrow.   They've found all these qualities and more in the past Master's Champion, Zach Johnson.

With strong Christian values, Zach has built a reputation for his positive demeanor and work ethics both on and off the golf course.  His PH3 philosophy (Practice Hard, Play Hard, Pray Hard) encapsulates his dedication and determination to his golfing career and to life in general.  Zach is not only planning for and transforming tomorrow for his own family, but also for the lives of children and their families in Cedar Rapids through a non-profit organization, the Zach Johnson Foundation.  It's easy to see why Transamerica has been proudly supporting Zach since 2004, and why they continue to develop a mutually beneficial relationship.

On April 1st at 1:00pm EST, Transamerica will be conducting a Google Hangout with Zach Johnson!  The Hangout will be part of a series focused on Team Transamerica.  The first of the series will be taking place from Sea Island, Georgia, with Golf Channels' Steve Sands as the events host.  Zach will be answering questions about how he, as a Masters Champion, prepares for the upcoming 2014 Masters Tournament.  Four fans have been randomly selected to participate virtually in the Hangout; you too can get involved by connecting with Transamerica on Facebook and on Twitter @Transamerica, and by submitting your questions for Zach and Steve using #TeamTransamerica.

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This article was sponsored by Transamerica and written by Eat Sleep Golf team member Scott Stevens. As such, Eat Sleep Golf was compensated by Transamerica to abide to FTC Guidelines. Feel free to post questions in the comment section below, and or connect with us on Facebook (www.fb.com/eatsleepgolf) or on Twitter (@eatsleepgolf) and use #TeamTransamerica