A new summer of heroes
There is an undeniable swagger about UK sport right now, and rightly so. From Andy Murray at Wimbledon, Justin Rose at the US Open and Chris Froome in the Tour de France to the Lions victory and the Ashes, we have gone from making up the numbers to No1.
Many of this summer’s success stories should be around for years to come so they could become long-term brand partners who will deliver more and more value as on-going success boosts awareness and respect for their achievements.
For some – despite their achievements – awareness remains relatively low, so brands need to investigate whether these new sporting heroes truly connect with their target audience.
Take James Anderson, for example. He may have tortured Australia in the first Ashes test, but awareness of him is still only around the 30% mark according to REPUCOM’s CelebrityDBI research.
This isn’t the whole story, however, as among cricket fans, he scores superbly well in attributes such as Appeal, Aspiration, Endorsement, Influence and Trust. In such cases, it comes down to a brand’s target demographic, not just the celebrity’s national popularity.
By contrast, Andy Murray’s awareness may be high at 96.6% in the UK, but his scores for Appeal, Endorsement and Trust are significantly lower than you might expect for an athlete of his stature. This may reflect the legacy of negative press coverage around his personality, previous antipathy towards his “dour” image or simply the fact that he’s not Tim Henman (the man who proved there is more to earning major endorsements than sheer sporting success).
For Murray, the tide does appear to be turning, though, particularly following his triumph over Novak Djokovic. The Scot’s rankings for all eight of the attributes measured by CelebrityDBI have also risen in the US, with awareness up to 38% (from 34% in August 2012) nationally and his score as an endorser up to 90% (up from 84%). Trust has also risen in the US, hitting 83% (up from 78%), indeed, few UK athletes score as highly across the pond.
Two other athletes who have achieved great things and could continue to do so for many years to come are Justin Rose and Chris Froome, winners of the US Open Golf and Cycling’s Tour de France, respectively.
Froome pips Rose for awareness at 37% to 34%, but both essentially still have appeal that’s limited to followers and demographics around their sports. Froome’s scores may have been boosted by his part in the 2012 Summer of Sport when he came second at the Tour de France and won a Bronze medal at London 2012. He also scores significantly higher than Rose across a wide range of CelebrityDBI attributes, including Appeal, Aspiration, Trust and Influence.
Members of the triumphant Lions team have an even lower profile – George North has just 17% awareness, for example – but with a World Cup taking place in England in 2015, successful Lions and particularly those members of the young Wales team could become powerful partners for brands that want to make an impression in the rugby heartlands of Wales and the West Country.
The crucial issue for brands as they reflect on another summer of sporting triumph (and the chance to link their brand’s image to these athletes) is the fact that celebrity endorsements need to be selected on a much more calculated basis. Sporting success alone is no guarantee of impact – reach and softer attributes such as appeal are just as crucial in this area as they are for a traditional media investment.
Understanding how Britain’s newest sporting stars measure up should be a vital consideration before brands sign on the bottom line.
Jon Stainer is SVP REPUCOM at REPUCOM UK & Ireland