The NFL’s Chief Marketing Officer, Tim Ellis, recently announced an off-season program to help players enhance their digital footprint and build their personal brands.
While product endorsements and brand partnerships are nothing new for superstar athletes. The digital landscape has changed the way brands interact with superstars. An economy that once relied on television advertisements is shifting towards “influencer” marketing campaigns on platforms like Instagram and Twitter.
Ellis was hired in 2018 from Activision Blizzard Inc. to help the league combat a slump in rating and fallout from player protests.
“There’s a huge opportunity now for big professional athletes to become true marketers and to build their own brands,” Ellis told AdWeek. “You now even see younger athletes, before they get to the pros, who are building their brands at a very early age.”
According to Ellis, the program will focus on everything from audience building strategy to filming techniques like how to hold a camera.
The program was made to support players after their NFL careers have come to an end. Much like the old cliche of ex-football players hocking used cars, Ellis is hoping this program will build financial longevity for players long after their retired from the game.
But the effort isn’t all altruistic, Ellis believes the program will be mutually beneficial for the league itself. In an interview with AdAge Ellis said, “We look at the players as key partners in helping us continue to build the brand of football.”
This isn’t the first time a football organization has helped players build their brands. In 2018, The Los Angeles Rams hired sports marketing professional Jim Darlowe to specifically help player build their personal brands. In an interview with Front Office Sports Darlowe expressed the need for such programs as players often skip brand education opportunities in high school and college before joining the NFL.
Written by: Michael Skarsten
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