Sports Entertainment Summit II: The Making of an Athlete’s Brand

By Steve Harvey

The recent surge in social media platforms and the changing nature of celebrity were two central topics discussed by the panel for The Making of an Athlete’s Brand, moderated by Founder/Director of National Sports Marketing Network (NSMN) Jennifer Karpf. The object may be to create engagement between celebrity athletes and fans, but the challenge is how best to manage those goals in a changing landscape.

Five-time Olympic gold medalist Janet Evans faces a specific challenge: the lack of a television platform between Games. “We have to consistently fight for relevancy,” noted Evans’ agent, Evan Morgenstein, of Premier Management Group.

As Evans noted, “Olympic sponsors are important to us. But I’m also a mom and a wife.” It’s all about finding a niche when building a brand, she observed. The advent of mommy bloggers offers one such niche opportunity.

Of course, youngsters, who comprise a significant percentage of athletes, don’t have the experience to market themselves. How do you counsel clients on the use of social media, Morgenstein was asked. “The first thing I tell clients under 40 years old: don’t tweet when you’re drunk! But it’s difficult; they want to be kids and have fun.”

“Social media has probably replaced old ways of measuring a celebrity’s popularity,” commented Marc Perman, basketball star Charles Barkley’s agent. A celebrity’s following on social media can provide companies with useful market research, he added.

David Schwab, talent buyer with Octagon First Call, which signs 250 brand celebrity deals a year, observed that what constitutes celebrity has changed with the rise in popularity of reality TV and, in particular, food shows. “We buy more chefs a year than we buy any other industry,” he reported.

There appears to be little doubt that new media platforms are upsetting the old order and TV’s importance is diminishing. With the web democratizing all forms of communication, it’s going to be a challenge for companies, networks, and studios to continue to control the message, commented Perman.

In the future, he predicted, “Celebrities are going to be producers of their own content.”

Click here for SVG’s comprehensive coverage of the Sports Entertainment Summit II.