Tips For Using Ambassadors Around Event Promotional Activities


We are weeks away from April – annually loaded with big-time sports special events – NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Final Four, MLB Opening Day, the Masters and the NFL Draft.

These events, as well as all others these days include ‘the show around the show.’ Sports-specific, lifestyle and local media will be eager for extra content to fill extended broadcast hours, column inches, non-stop social posts and to justify the writers, content producers and social media managers they’ve put on the ground. The increased buzz around these events provides opportunities for brands to capitalize on short-term publicity and B2B hospitality and retail needs. It’s common for brands to bring on ambassadors around an individual event, in fact, many long-term celebrity and athlete ambassador relationships begin with shorter deals that allow both parties to test drive and fine tune the partnership before committing for a year or more.

Here are a few tips to remember if you are considering ambassador-based promotional activities around such events:

Don’t Break The Bank. Media are looking for athletes and celebrities to fill time and bring the event experience to their audience. Most media will be eager to speak with B-list or C-list celebrities, so long as that person helps them create content, sparks page views and is relevant to the event at-hand. In an media row scenario, each athlete or celebrity typically gets an opportunity for one sponsor message per interview, whether he or she is at the top or bottom of the celebrity rankings (bigger name celebrities get more air time but often the same amount of product message time).

Share And Share Alike. It is OK if other brands (outside of your business category) want to use your hired talent for their work, as long as you are first and have an exclusivity window to pitch media in advance. Always aim to be first to market with any digital content as that increases engagement and views.

Think Locally. For many annual sports and entertainment events, you know locations several years in advance, such as the Final Four. Look at memorable anniversaries (10th, 25th, etc.), leverage ambassadors that are beloved in the market, work to understand who you are pitching and what type of ambassador will resonate.

Make It Personal. Find out which retail and other business customers are fans of your ambassador and get them personalized merchandise or negotiate a few 10 second shout-out videos. It’s amazing how far a thoughtful touch will go when building a relationship and trying to grow your bottom line.

Know The Sport. Broadly speaking, sports fans are motivated by different factors depending on the sport.  Octagon’s proprietary research platform, Passion Drivers, quantifies why fans are fans and breaks down fan passion into 12 determining factors.  Some examples below:

• For MLB, “Nostalgia” and “Team Devotion” are the top Passion Drivers for fans. Brands can be confident about using retired players and legends in their campaigns.  And if the campaign is a local one, tap into the “Team Devotion” factor with a local icon.

• For college basketball, the “All Consuming” nature of the tournament is one of the highest ranked Passion Drivers, brands are well positioned to drive engagement with an ambassador who conjures up memories of buzzer beaters, Cinderella stories and memorable March efforts.

• When it comes to the PGA, “Active Appreciation” is among the top Passion Drivers for fans. Brands should consider engaging with an ambassador who can relate to fans and talk to them about improving their short game and adding yards to their tee shots.

• The top ranked Passion Driver for NFL fans is “Team Devotion.” That means, football fans are loyal to their teams above all else. Brands should tap into athletes who have a large local/regional following or look for an athlete whose team has a national presence and fan base.

Not every brand can afford, or has an appetite, to play at the Super Bowl. And that’s ok. It’s important to consider every event on the calendar as an opportunity to leverage celebrity and athlete brand ambassadors.

John Mock