International Companies Marketing with American Athletes
Updated: Jan 14
It’s no secret that athletes have a nationwide appeal here in the United States, but the sports and entertainment industry is huge internationally as well. You don’t have to speak a certain language or be of a certain culture to appreciate the good competition. Unfortunately for brands selling a product or service, you may have to try a bit harder to get people of other nationalities to appreciate your products or services. Reaching the U.S. market with typical marketing strategies from another country can be challenging for brands. Differing customs may make it tough to break into American consumers’ minds unless you have a familiar figure or face. This is where athletes can come into the mix.
For foreign companies, having a familiar face in your social media posts or campaigns can be the first step in breaking into the U.S. market. Asian companies, especially in China, have been participating in this for years. One great example of this is Dwyane Wade and his partnership with Li-Ning, an athletic wear company based out of Beijing, China. Creating a line of shoes, shirts, and other apparel called “Way of Wade,” this partnership has been globally beneficial to both parties. Li-Ning gets more exposure in American markets while Wade gets more global exposure for his personal brand. This is evident by attendance at various events along with Wade’s tour of China with the company. You can read more about the 2019 tour here. This relationship has been going strong since 2012 and is set to continue for many years as Wade signed a lifetime contract with Li-Ning back in 2018. This is a great example of an international partnership working between an American athlete and an international company, but domestic companies can also find benefits in globalization.
International athletic wear companies are beginning to get into the game when it comes to American athletes (especially Adidas), but companies outside of sports see the value as well. Hublot, a Swiss watch company, has a respectable roster of athlete ambassadors. These ambassadors mostly participate in soccer, golf, or Formula 1 racing to match the high-quality image of Hublot. One American ambassador of note is the 2019 PGA Championship and Masters Runner Up, Dustin Johnson. Johnson is often seen wearing a Hublot watch whenever he posts a picture of himself holding up a trophy. You can find a few of these pictures on his Instagram page as he wins often. Hublot also regularly showcases its ambassadors on its own Instagram page, with Johnson being highlighted in a few. Hublot is a global brand that does a good job of making its presence known around the world. Their watches boast high-quality craftsmanship that is already respected worldwide. To capitalize on this reputation, sponsoring American athletes to further launch into the American market was a must. Another American athlete of note on Hublot’s roster is golfer Patrick Reed.
When looking to gain a global audience, don’t underestimate the power of an athlete's fan base. Athletes have fans from all over the world, so going global may be easier than you think.
Another great option for companies looking into globalizing is partnering with an influencer. Influencers can have the same global appeal of athletes depending on their content, so make sure to take that into consideration as well. Louisa Warwick is a great example of this as a British actress, model, and influencer living in New York City. As a brand, your options are endless, so begin building your international appeal today!