November 25, 2011 The marriage of athletes and sports sponsorship is a match made in sports marketing heaven. It has made millions of dollars for everyone involved. But an important part of this matchmaking is finding the right athlete to act as an ambassador for the brand. There are certain qualities sports marketing professionals look for in an athlete before they are considered the perfect band ambassador. They must be successful. They must be highly visible. The athlete also has to be attractive, likeable and well-spoken. They must display self-control and stay away from controversy. Athletes who embody these attributes tend to be the ones who get the most lucrative endorsement deals. For an athlete to be a good ambassador they must be successful in their sport. People love a winner. The public tries to identify the things which have made them successful and copy them. When an athlete has reached the pinnacle of their sport they are looked upon with awe and their words and actions are seen as important and take on greater meaning and value. This makes their sports sponsorship much more valuable. Success also improves an athlete’s visibility. Champions are feted, honored with parades, grace the covers of newspapers and magazines and invited to appear on radio and television. This high visibility works well for sponsors. It ensures their products will be seen by millions of people who may otherwise have never heard of their brand. The athlete’s presence in the media amounts to millions of dollars worth of free advertising for the companies whose products they endorse. People like their sports heroes to be attractive. The more handsome or beautiful they are the more people are drawn to them. Psychologically people link their attractiveness with their success and by extension believe using the products and services they promote will make them look and perform better in their own endeavors. But being attractive alone is not enough. The athlete must also be likeable. Many successful athletes who lack the ‘right’ personality are often overlooked or eschewed when sponsors are looking for people to promote their products. To be good product pitchpersons the athletes must have personalities that draw people to them. Communication is important when it comes to promoting products. Champions who are unable to clearly express themselves do not make good spokespersons and are often ignored by marketing professionals. The ability to stay above the fray and not take unpopular or controversial positions is also highly prized by sponsors. One of the keys to successful marketing is being able to reach as many people as possible. Athletes who only express socially acceptable opinions are attractive to large segments of the population and therefore make excellent brand ambassadors.