Brands love to use sports celebrities in their commercials, as this has proven to be a successful marketing technique for many years now. And the fact that they keep on doing it goes to show that it truly has an impact on their sales. Celebrities are getting endorsement deals from a wide range of companies, like clothing brands. Additionally, online sports betting companies have also used sports celebrities to promote their business. 

However, these ads are different from the ones with movie stars or regular ads. They’re generally the most popular, with some of them being eagerly awaited by fans at various events, such as the Superbowl.

Telling a Story

Ads starring sports celebrities are unique; they don’t just try to sell you a product. You can see the popularity of these ads on YouTube, like with the Adidas ad starring James Harden, among other stars. This video totalised over 48 million views, and what makes it so popular is the story told through it.

In this video, a narrative unfolds through music, images and voice-over. It’s designed so that anyone can relate since it’s targeted enough, so you feel it’s about your personal experience, yet it applies to everyone who lived beyond the age of 15. 

It evokes struggles, which is something everyone goes through, and balances it with the success of these celebrities. Unconsciously the viewer is led to think: “This celebrity used to be like me, but by working hard, they’ve managed to overcome it.” The second thought that’ll come to mind is: “I want to overcome the struggles like they did, so I should start doing what they did.” That’s the catch, the point where the viewer will want to mimic their idol and will get interested in the product. 

This technique works better than trying to sell the product directly, because it puts the viewer in an active position. Namely, they’re the ones who end up looking for the product, which gets them genuinely invested with the brand.

Brand Association With the Celebrity

The other aspect of this type of marketing is the association of a product or a line of products with the celebrity’s character. It worked wonders for Nike and their long-term partnership with Michael Jordan. It worked so well that even though the NBA superstar retired in 2003, the Jordan brand generated over 4.7 billion in revenue in 2021 for Nike. The example of Michael Jordan is peculiar, but it’s also the one brands try to recapture the most, because it created an aura around the Jordan branding line. 

A big part of their success is the reputation of the Chicago Bulls player. When the brand was created, Michael Jordan was considered an unstoppable force, his career was mind-blowing, and he was changing basketball. Michael Jordan broke records and was an inspiration worldwide. To this day, he’s still the most decorated NBA player, so even the people who aren’t really huge sports fans look up to this (almost mythological) figure. This contributed greatly to the longevity of the brand. 

However, in the case of Jordan, the influence of Afro-American hip-hop artists is also something to consider. The shoes were indirectly promoted by these artists in music videos and became a sign of wealth for many young people. The brand became much more than just sportswear and is nowadays commonly worn casually. It’s an achievement that all brands wish to recreate, hence the multiplication of these types of ads with superstars such as James Harden, Stephen Curry or numerous football players.

It’s Not Just About Revenue

Promoting a brand using a sports celebrity isn’t just about the revenue; it’s a way to imprint the name of a product in people’s minds and popular culture. It guarantees longevity and opens up opportunities for other influencers to quote the brand in the future.